June 12, 2024

Maxfield to make latest comeback in Tenacious at Fair Grounds

Maxfield wins the Matt Winn Stakes at Churchill Downs (Coady Photography)

The following races are examined below:

  • Tenacious Stakes
  • Letellier Memorial
  • Sugar Bowl Stakes
  • Richard R. Scherer Memorial
  • Blushing K. D. Stakes
  • Buddy Diliberto Memorial

Tenacious Stakes

Race 13 (6:50 p.m. ET)

Untimely injuries have not only prevented Maxfield from important engagements like the Breeders’ Cup and Kentucky Derby (G1), but overall have limited the innately talented colt to just three starts. The Godolphin homebred, who turns four in a matter of weeks, will look to get his racing career back on track again on Saturday in the $75,000 Tenacious Stakes, one of six stakes on a tremendous, stakes-laden Fair Grounds card.

Forced to miss last year’s Breeders’ Cup due to an ankle chip and the entirety of this year’s Triple Crown series due to a condylar fracture, Maxfield nonetheless remains one of the more esteemed members of his generation. His relative quality was on display in a blowout victory in the 2019 Breeders’ Futurity (G1), and his lone prior start this year, the May 23 Matt Winn (G3), was just as impressive considering he had not run since the Futurity in October.

The 1 1/16-mile Tenacious is not a terribly deep spot, but testing enough for a horse with only a single outing in the past 14 months. Maxfield will be ridden for the first time by Florent Geroux, who substitutes for the Gulfstream-based Jose Ortiz.

“(The Tenacious) was in my mind for a while, with the timing, and I think Fair Grounds will suit the horse, with the long straight and all,” trainer Brendan Walsh said. “We haven’t gotten anywhere near the bottom of him yet. He’s as good as ever; he’s matured beautifully, physically-speaking.”

Maxfield’s two primary rivals figure to be the 5-year-old Captivating Moon and fellow sophomore Sonneman. Although cross-entered in a grass stakes he won on this card last year when it was rained onto the main track, Captivating Moon is capable of a strong showing over a fast track as well judging from his second-place finish in the New Orleans Classic (G2) in March. Sonneman has come on for trainer Steve Asmussen this fall, running second in the Pat Day Mile (G2) in September and most recently romping against second-level allowance foes by more than five lengths at Churchill.

Here’s a brief look at the main contenders in the other Santa Super Saturday Day stakes:

$75,000 Buddy Diliberto Memorial

*Captivating Moon could opt for a title defense in this fixture scheduled for 1 1/16 miles on the turf. However, the race is loaded with quality, with graded veterans Cross Border, Dot Matrix, and Henley’s Joy among the cast. Sailing Solo possesses dangerous speed, while Tenfold looms a threat if the race were to be washed off the grass.

$75,000 Blushing K. D. Stakes

*For fillies and mares at 1 1/16 miles on the turf, this marks the debut of Secret Message for new trainer Brad Cox after the 5-year-old previously captured the Mint Julep (G3) and Nassau (G2) under the tutelage of Graham Motion. Other potential players include the German-bred Dalika, Quick Witted, and the promising stakes debuter Beautiful Trauma, who’s one to watch for in the event the race is transferred to dirt like last year.

$75,000 Richard R. Scherer Memorial

Thanksgiving Classic winner Nitrous will attempt to become the first dual stakes winner of the young meet when he faces a deep cast over 5 1/2 furlongs on the turf. The field also features Grade 3 winner Guildsman; Jim McKay Turf Sprint victor Hollis; stakes winner Archidust; and course specialists Just Might, Real News, and Fast Boat.

$75,000 Sugar Bowl Stakes

*Quick Tempo, runner-up in the Nyquist S. at Keeneland last out, will look to steal this 6-furlong dash for 2-year-olds. The opposition includes Twilight Blue from the Joe Sharp barn, Churchill debut winner Gagetown from Brad Cox, and the Godolphin homebred Tate.

$75,000 Letellier Memorial

Joy’s Rocket, convincing winner of the Songbird S. on Breeders’ Cup weekend at Keeneland, will look to fend off Churchill allowance heroine Charlie’s Penny and local graduate Mariah’s Princess in this 6-furlong test for 2-year-old fillies.