Godolphin's 3-year-old homebred Street Sense colt Maxfield did not disappoint in his long awaited return to the races on Saturday, rallying wide to win the Grade 3 Matt Winn Stakes at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky., by one length under Jose Ortiz. Now 3-for-3, Maxfield is back on the topsy-turvy Triple Crown trail, which will begin with a shortened Belmont Stakes on June 20, continue with the Kentucky Derby on Sept. 5 and conclude with the Preakness Stakes on Oct. 3.
Maxfield, who earned 50 qualifying points for the Kentucky Derby with his Matt Winn victory, raced past Ny Traffic and Pneumatic in deep stretch to secure the win for trainer Brendan Walsh. It was Maxfield's first start since winning the G1 Breeders' Futurity at Keeneland last Oct. 5. He was among the favorites for the G1 Breeders' Cup Juvenile at Santa Anita but was scratched because of an ankle injury that led to surgery to remove a chip.
Maxfield paid $4.60 as the favorite in the field of 10 3-year-olds in the Matt Winn. Ny Traffic, prominent throughout, held second, with Pneumatic suffering his first defeat in three starts while finishing third. Attachment Rate was fourth. Necker Island, Celtic Striker, Shake Some Action, Informative, Flap Jack and Major Fed completed the order of finish. Crypto Cash and Mystic Guide scratched.
Time for 1 1/16 miles was 1:43.05 on a wet but fast track after fractions of :23.98, :48.21, 1:12.44 and 1:36.92.
Maxfield was prominent early but wide into the first turn, carrying Attachment Rate and Major Fed even wider. Longshot Celtic Striker sped to the lead under Manny Franco, but was under close pursuit from Attachment Rate to his outside. Pneumatic got a rail trip in third under Ricardo Santana Jr.
Down the backstretch, Ortiz allowed Maxfield to settle into eighth while well off the rail. Approaching the far turn, as a three-way battle for the lead continued, Maxfield followed Major Fed, who tried to launch a bid while losing much ground. Ortiz then found a seam between Major Fed and Attachment Rate nearing the five-sixteenths pole and swung Maxfield out for the stretch drive.
Pneumatic and Ny Traffic engaged for the lead down the stretch, but Maxfield began to bear down on them. Maxfield came in slightly under right-handed pressure and Ny Traffic, ridden by Paco Lopez, drifted out.
Maxfield powered past, with Ortiz looking for competition from behind and then easing the colt up in the final strides.
“The start is a key part of the race,” said Ortiz. “Last time I worked him out of the gate at Keeneland he worked better. He's really matured a lot. If you can keep breaking like he did today and be in a spot like he did, he's going to be a really nice horse. He came off the layoff today going 1 1/16 miles and Brendan (Walsh) did a really good job to get him fit so I don't see a mile-and-a-quarter being a problem at all. When I came alongside Paco's horse I had to adjust a little because of how much bigger Maxfield is compared to his. He's just a massive horse.”
“We were really anxious to see this one,” said Walsh. “It wasn't an easy spot either. I think the top four horses are all really nice horses. It's nice to get this one out of the way. It's good to see him come back and see he's as good if not better than when he was a 2-year-old. Jose (Ortiz) gave him a great ride. He had a different kind of style than he did in the past. He broke really good. He won and we can't ask for more than that.”
Maxfield earned $88,350 from the $150,000 purse.
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