November 30, 2023

Maxfield caps big day for Godolphin in Breeders’ Futurity

Maxfield wins the Breeders' Futurity at Keeneland 2019
Maxfield was an impressive winner of the Breeders' Futurity (Coady Photography)

Maxfield remained unbeaten with an impressive performance in Saturday’s $500,000 Breeders’ Futurity (G1) at Keeneland and stamped his ticket for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile in the “Win & You’re In” event. The Godolphin homebred son of Street Sense launched his move on the far turn and offered a dynamic turn of foot into the stretch, blowing past 3-2 favorite Gouvereur Morris and drawing away to a 5 ½-length decision.

Jose Ortiz was up for Brendan Walsh, who recorded his first Grade 1 triumph as a trainer, and Maxfield completed the 1 1/16-mile distance in 1:44.21, scoring as the 6-1 fourth choice among 10 rivals. Godolphin also won a pair of stakes races at Belmont Park Saturday, with Alms taking the Matron (G3) and Final Frontier the Belmont Turf Sprint, and Maxfield has connections thinking about the Kentucky Derby.

The Breeders’ Futurity is part of the Road to the Kentucky Derby series and awarded the winner 10 points toward a berth in a projected 20-horse Kentucky Derby field next spring.

Maxfield stretched out to two turns off a rallying debut maiden win at Churchill Downs in which he also started slowly. The bay colt broke a step slowly and raced nearly 10 lengths back as pacesetter American Butterfly established splits of :24.01 and :47.78.

Gouverneur Morris, a scintillating debut winner at Saratoga, looked imposing when making a move to the lead between calls on the far turn but could not go with the winner in the stretch. He held second by a half-length over the last-running Enforceable at 19-1. It was another five lengths back to fourth-placer Ajaaweed, who was followed by By Your Side, American Butterfly, January Won, King Theo, Life on the Road and 3-1 second choice Tap It to Win.

Out of the Bernardini mare Velvety, Kentucky-bred Maxfield counts as his second dam the multiple Grade 3-winning Caress and this is the immediate female family of Grade 1 winner and sire Sky Mesa.

Breeders’ Futurity Quotes

Brendan Walsh (winning trainer of Maxfield): “When he started rolling I was looking to see if he was going to get through – is there anything going to stop us? – because I knew he was going to run right to the wire.

“He’s a very special horse. I’ve been around a lot of good horses, and good horses breathe different air. I think this horse is right there. I thought he might take a run or two to break his maiden, but we knew he was a super-talented horse. He overcame a lot the first day we ran him, and he came out of that race doing so good. To come back in three weeks for a horse that’s only run once is a big ask, but he answers every question.

“Obviously, we’ll see how he comes out of this (before a decision on the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile), but if you don’t bring him, who do you bring?

“I always knew (winning my first Grade 1 race) would be special but to win it here for these people (Godolphin) it’s extra special. Fantastic. Indescribable. “

Jose Ortiz (winning rider): “He’s a very nice horse and he’s very smart. He broke slow first time, took dirt and came running at Churchill. Today, he did the same thing. Broke a bit slow, relaxed and when I asked him to go, he was there for me the whole time.”

Javier Castellano (rider of runner-up and beaten favorite Gouverneur Morris): “It was a good trip. Unfortunately, we were kind of wide in the first turn, but that’s hard to deal with breaking from the outside post. He broke well enough to get into a good spot. We were just second best today. He earned it and fought for second place, but the winner was the best horse in the race.”

In other Saturday Keeneland stakes, Spiced Perfection overcame a stumbling start and split horses in the stretch to prevail by a head in the $250,000 Thoroughbred Club of America (G2), earning a free trip to the Filly & Mare Sprint in the Breeders’ Cup Challenge race. The four-year-old returned from a five-month layoff and notched her second graded stakes victory at Keeneland after taking the Madison (G1) last spring.

Peter Miller trains for Len Schleifer’s Pantofel Stable, Adam Wachtel and Peter Deutsch, and Javier Castellano was up on the California-bred daughter of Smiling Tiger. Spiced Perfection was the 4-1 second choice and stepped six furlongs in 1:10.60. She saved ground in midpack during the early stages and determinedly outfinished Dawn the Destroyer.

Spiced Perfection pushed her earnings past the $1 million mark ($1,026,905) from an 18-8-5-2 career line. Now a six-time stakes winner, the bay filly also captured the La Brea (G1) last December. She was bred by Premier Thoroughbreds and initially sold for $6,500 as a yearling before being purchased for $50,000 at the 2017 Barrett’s two-year-old sale. Spiced Perfection is out of the Pleasantly Perfect mare Perfect Feat and counts Cal-bred stakes winner Cruel Intention as a full-brother.

Dawn the Destroyer, who rated in last in the early stages, just missed at 10-1 with wide closing kick, 1 ½ lengths better than Mia Mischief in third. It was another 1 ¾ lengths to Chalon in fourth and next under the wire came Ours to Run, Danuska’s My Girl, pacesetter Talk Veuve to Me, Pretty Greeley and Razorback Lady.

In the $200,000 Woodford (G3), Stubbins rallied last to first to score by about a length. The three-year-old colt was making his second start against elders and Joel Rosario was up for owner Patrick McShane and trainer Doug O’Neill. Stubbins left the starting gate as the 7-1 fourth choice and completed 5 ½ furlongs on the firm turf in :55.74.

A turf maiden winner the third time out in early January, the bay son of Morning Line recorded his lone previous stakes tally in the off-the-turf Pasadena in early March. He was exiting a runner-up finish in the September 12 Franklin-Simpson (G3) at Kentucky Downs and has now earned $318,151 from a 10-4-2-2 ledger.

Leinster, who advanced to take a clear lead in midstretch, could not withstand the winner’s late charge but easily held second at 5-2 odds, 1 ½ lengths better than 7-5 favorite Imprimis. Smart Remark, Extravagant Kid, Fareeq, Win Lion Win, Satellite Storm and Royal Commish completed the order.

Bred in Kentucky by Patrick and Brittney Durtschi, Stubbins was purchased for $130,000 at the 2018 OBS March two-year-old sale.