News and STORIES

Maxfield Takes Matt Winn Stakes

Author: Don Mckee
Published: Monday May 25, 2020
The 3-year-old Maxfield scored the $150,000 Matt Winn Stakes (G3) on May 23. While there has yet to be any official announcement, it is likely that the Godolphin colt is looking at the Kentucky Derby in the fall. 

Besides the Derby, trainer Brendan Walsh has spoken about other options for the grade 1-winning runner, specifically the $1 million Belmont Stakes (G1). 

At the Matt Winn, Maxfield beat Ny Traffic by a length, and it followed his 7 1/2-month layoff from racing. The race ran at 1 1/16-mile.

Triple Crown Races

"Absolutely, (the Belmont) and everything else is in the picture," Walsh said. "Every time he runs, it looks like the mile and a quarter, which will be the furthest (of the Triple Crown races), will not be a problem for him. The Belmont, the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness, they will all be in his wheelhouse."

According to Walsh, he will observe how the homebred son of Street Sense comes out of his 3-year-old debut. Afterward, he will discuss options about the June 20 Belmont Stakes in New York with Godolphin management. 

"We'll enjoy this and come up with a plan in a few days," Walsh said. 

Following his performance at the Matt Winn, Maxfield would surely be one of the favorites in the opening Triple Crown race. He showed his ability to bounce back after an ankle injury that cut short his 2-year-old campaign, which followed a victory in the Oct. 5 Claiborne Breeders' Futurity.

"He's an amazing horse. Ones like him don't come around too often. He showed he's as good or maybe even better than he was last year," Walsh said. "It was the performance we wanted, and hopefully, we can move forward from here and have a good year, which I am sure he will. He makes us look good."

Matt Winn Performance 

Compared to his 2-year-old races, Maxfield showed a lot more speed at the Matt Winn. As the field of 10 headed into the first turn, he battled with four other horses for the lead. Jockey Jose Ortiz backed off and moved inside, and Maxfield ran behind horses in eighth after an opening quarter-mile in :23.98.

"He got a great education today," Walsh said.

Winchell Thoroughbreds' Pneumatic and Ny Traffic fought with the 168-1 longshot Celtic Striker for the lead as Ortiz held patiently. The time came to make a move with the 6-5 favorite leaving the three-eighths pole when Ny Traffic and Pneumatic moved away from Celtic Striker. Ny Traffic had a slight lead after six furlongs in 1:12.44.

Ortiz moved Maxfield five paths wide into the clear.

Maxfield passed up the 7-2 third choice Ny Traffic and went the distance in 1:43.05.

Rest of the Field

The Belmont Stakes is the first Triple Crown race this year due to the shifting of the schedule, but the Kentucky Derby is already being thought about. Maxfield was awarded 50 qualifying points as part of the Road to the Kentucky Derby series and now has a total of 60 points. He holds the ninth spot in the standings and is all but guaranteed a starting spot in the event.

"We're in a nice position now," Walsh said.

Ny Traffic finished second and was awarded 20 points. He was coming off another second-place finish in the Louisiana Derby (G2) and a third in the Risen Star Stakes Presented by Lamarque Ford (G2). The son of Cross Traffic now holds the eighth spot with a total of 70 points.

"I'm super proud of him," trainer Saffie Joseph Jr. said. "An exceptional horse beat him. He's learning how to sit behind horses and relax. Now we have to teach him how to finish the job a little more. This was crucial because I think we secured a Derby spot."

The 5-2 second choice Pneumatic finished three-quarters-of-a-length back in third while Attachment Rate finished fourth 3 1/4 lengths behind.