MAXFIELD MAKES A MOVE IN ALYSHEBA
Sometimes we find out about some of those “other” horses during the Kentucky Oaks/Derby extravaganza. Graded stakes races lead up to these all-too famous events so that means plenty of top athletes are on display. Often times you see a runner that makes you go hmmmmmm.
The grade 2 Alysheba has been a race for older dirt males that serves as a springboard to the summer. First run in 2004, it kicked off the graded stakes action on Oaks day and yes we were treated to one of those wow performance.
Maxfield came into this mile and a sixteenth race a perfect two for two beneath the twin spires. An early favorite for the 2020 Kentucky Derby, this son of Street Sense encountered some minor mishaps and had to miss the delayed Run for the Roses. Now running in 2021, this Brendan Walsh trained behemoth wants to stake a claim as best older male.
Beginning the year with a win in the Mineshaft Stakes at the Fair Grounds in New Orleans, Walsh shipped to Santa Anita for the Santa Anita Handicap on March 6. Even though that historic race resulted in his only career defeat, his crafty conditioner viewed that as perhaps one of the best things that could have happened.
“I think shipping to Santa Anita might have been the best thing we ever did,” says Walsh. “It really brought him along mentally. He seems to have really moved forward from there.”
Move forward he has as his Alysheba performance was an eye-opener to say the least. Breaking alertly and settling in a stalking position early, Maxfield was comfortably cruising into the far turn. Assuming command at the top of the stretch under jockey Jose Ortiz, the Godolphin owned runner put on a powerful display down the stretch. Winning by a widening 3 ¼ lengths, Maxfield was much the best.
“Maxfield has filled out nicely and really matured physically,” says Walsh. “He has taught us not to think too far into the future, but this was a really nice run in this one and we hope to bring him back later in this Churchill meet.”
As impressive as the Alysheba run was for Maxfield the question lingers as to just how good he can be. Obviously tougher obstacles lie ahead if he hopes to considered as the best older dirt male, but Walsh is cautiously optimistic better things are ahead.
“I really don’t think we have seen his best yet”, says Walsh. “As we get more seasoning into him I think he can be even better. He was unfortunate early and touch wood if we can keep him healthy we can have a good year and he can fulfill his potential.”