Athletes these days are often judged on potential and the anticipation of what they might do. The thoughts of future glory can create lots of debate and excitement. Sometimes they produce and other times they don’t. Thoroughbred trainer Brendan Walsh is currently holding his breath as one of his four-legged phenoms points toward his next start.
Since October of 2019 Maxfield has been thought of as potentially one of the top Thoroughbreds in training. A resounding six and a half length back of the pack to top of the stack score in the Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity at Keeneland catapulted him into contention for two-year old Eclipse Award consideration. Yes it was only his second career start, but this sizable son of Street Sense dropped some jaws with a stretch move that would have made his pappy proud. As Kentucky Derby dreams danced, it was obvious he had the goods to get it done on the first Saturday in May. Three-year old potential was certainly spelled with a capital “P.
Unfortunately the injury bug bit as Walsh prepared the Godolphin owned colt for the Breeders’ Cup. The recovery process moved a bit slower than the Irish born trainer had hoped, but with the rescheduling of the Kentucky Derby to September, Walsh was in no hurry to bring back his prized pupil. Making his long awaited three-year old debut on May 23 in the Matt Winn Stakes at Churchill Downs, it looked like the perfect place to start a run for the roses.Another late rally from off the pace landed Walsh and Maxfield in the winner’s circle and once again Fred Astaire was doing the Derby two-step.
In mid June however, the phonograph skipped and the dance got cancelled as injury put Maxfield on the shelf. Denied an opportunity to have an MC Hammer-type starter at the world’s most famous Thoroughbred soiree, Walsh has chosen to focus on the future for this grandson of Bernardini.
“Obviously we were very disappointed injury denied him the opportunity to start in the Kentucky Derby,” says Walsh.”I am just very thankful the injuries were not career ending. Godolphin has been patient and allowed me to keep him in training and work towards a four-year old campaign. They have been very gracious and told me to just take our time and get him right.”
The fourth start of Maxfield’s career is scheduled to come on Saturday, December 19 in the Tenacious Stakes at the Fair Grounds in New Orleans. The mile and a sixteenth race against open company should provide a challenge for this talented yet inexperienced runner.
“He will face older horses of the first time and this should be a nice test off the bench for him,” says Walsh. “He has been working well and is giving off all the signs he is ready.Physically he is a lot better than he has ever been and now we just need to get him into the starting gates.”
As is the case with any vastly talented athlete, thinking about the future is a natural thing. Walsh is hoping to have a spectacular 2021 in the works for this runner. But the crafty Irish conditioner refuses to look past this next start.
“We have no solidified future plans because now we know better than to look too far forward with him,” smiles Walsh. “I think we have absolutely not seen his best yet and that is very exciting. We are just taking things one day at a time and working towards a healthy future.”
The Tenacious Stakes is slated as the thirteenth and final race of a Fair Grounds card that features four other Stakes races.Six others are scheduled to line up against Maxfield including Cool Bobby, Mocito Rojo, Locally Owned, and Captivating Moon.