January 30, 2023

Maxfield concludes decorated racing career with Clark victory

Maxfield goes out a winner in the Clark Stakes at Churchill Downs (Photo by Coady Photography)

Maxfield put away Midnight Bourbon after straightening for home and held Happy Saver safe late, stylishly concluding his racing career with a half-length win in Saturday’s $750,000 Clark S. (G1) at Churchill Downs.

A Godolphin homebred son of Street Sense, Maxfield notched his second Grade 1 tally, and seventh overall stakes win, and the four-year-old colt will head to stud at Darley with $2,001,812 in earnings from an 11-8-2-1 record.

Off as the 6-5 second choice with Jose Ortiz, the Brendan Walsh-trained Maxfield stalked about a length back in second as 6-5 favorite Midnight Bourbon established opening splits in :23.83 and :48. Maxfield advanced to even turns nearing the completion of the far turn, swinging wide into the stretch with momentum.

Midnight Bourbon tried to battle back along the inside, but Maxfield powered past to take a clear lead. Happy Saver emerged as a threat in deep stretch, rallying boldly into contention on the far outside, but Maxfield had enough left to hold off the late challenger.

“He put me in the race today when he broke from the gate,” Ortiz said. “I could tell Happy Saver would be coming around the far turn, and Maxfield felt him come alongside as well. He was able to dig down and really fight hard today. Hats off to Brendan and his team who have done an amazing job with him throughout his career. I’m very happy he gets to go out this way.”

Maxfield finished 1 1/8 miles over the “good” track in 1:49.06.

“Today, he had to fight hard to get the job done, and he ran great to hold off Happy Saver,” Walsh said. It’s hard to find another horse like him. It was fantastic everything came together. It’s a fantastic way to cap his career.”

Happy Saver was three lengths better than Midnight Bourbon at 8-1. Militarist, an 86-1 outsider, wound up about a length behind Midnight Bourbon in fourth. King Fury, Night Ops, Dr Post, and Chess Chief completed the order of finish.

Maxfield captured his first five starts, and overcame a pair of lengthy layoffs, before sustaining his first setback, a fifth in March’s Santa Anita H. (G1). The dark bay came back to win his next two outings, the Alysheba (G2) and Stephen Foster (G2) at Churchill Downs.

After recording back-to-back seconds in Whitney (G1) at Saratoga and Woodward (G1) at Belmont Park, Maxfield rebounded triumphantly in the Clark.

“I feel just delighted he got the job done like that today,” Walsh said. “It’s a very prestigious race and it’s very nice he could win it and go into his stud career like that. He’s an unbelievable horse. I can’t say enough about him. He’s been through a lot the last two years.”

Out of the Bernardini mare Velvety, Kentucky-bred Maxfield hails from a classy female family. Notables include Grade 1 winner and sire Sky Mesa.