Maxfield returns to winning ways in Churchill's Alysheba

Maxfield returns to winning ways in Churchill's Alysheba
Photo: Eclipse Sportswire

Louisville, Ky.

Maxfield bounced back from the first loss of his career by taking over and pulling away Friday for a victory in Churchill Downs’ Grade 2, $400,000 Alysheba Stakes.

Trained by Brendan Walsh, the 4-year-old Street Sense colt covered 1 1/16 miles in 1:41.39 under jockey Jose Ortiz. He returned $3 as the 1-2 favorite in his first start since running third in the Santa Anita Handicap (G1).

Visitant set early fractions of 23.91 and 47.48 seconds, with Maxfield sitting off that pace. The Godolphin homebred put a nose in front coming around the far turn and drew off by 3¼ lengths for his sixth win in seven career starts.

“I was very confident all the way around," Ortiz said. "We were right where I wanted to be. When it came time to go, he was there for me. He’s one of the nice ones.”

The William Morey-trained Visitant hung tough for second place ahead of Chess Chief and Roadster, who rounded out the superfecta. A 2019 Kentucky Derby starter, Roadster raced Friday for trainer Bob Baffert after running for Mike Stidham’s barn last month at Fair Grounds.

Maxfield is now 3-for-3 in his career at Churchill Downs. He won his debut under the Twin Spires in September 2019, then returned to the track last May to take the 2020 Matt Winn Stakes (G3).

“He loves this track,” Walsh said. “He’s done nothing wrong. But he’s done nothing wrong on any track, really, to be fair to him. He’s just a very good horse.”

Other victories on Maxfield’s ledger include Keeneland’s 2019 Breeders’ Futurity (G1) and Fair Grounds’ 2020 Tenacious Stakes and 2021 Mineshaft Stakes (G3).

Injuries kept Maxfield from competing in last year’s Triple Crown series or in either of the last two Breeders’ Cup meets. The colt has now started four times since December and looks in fine form ahead of a summer schedule that could include races like Churchill’s Stephen Foster (G2) or Saratoga’s Whitney Stakes (G1).

“I think we’ve still got better to come from him,” Walsh said. “As he goes along, he’s going to gradually get better with seasoning.

“We put a big obstacle in front of him when we brought him to Santa Anita the last time. I think in a way, it might have been the best thing we ever did. It brought the horse along mentally. I think it really helped him to mature. …

“Hopefully we can keep it going and have a good year with the horse and can fulfill his potential.”

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