Maxfield, an unbeaten but injury-hampered Grade 1 winner, is nearing his return to the races.
The 3-year-old turned in his sixth timed work Monday since returning to trainer Brendan Walsh after a summer on the sidelines. He breezed five furlongs in 1:00.80 at the Fair Grounds, where Walsh said Tuesday that the Street Sense colt will likely make his next start.
Option No. 1 for Walsh is the $75,000 Tenacious Stakes going 1 1/16 miles Dec. 19 at the Fair Grounds. If Maxfield needs more time, the New Orleans oval hosts the Grade 3, $125,000 Louisiana Stakes on Jan. 16 at the same distance.
Walsh cautioned that nothing is “set in stone” for Maxfield, a Godolphin homebred who has still made only three career starts.
“This horse has taught us not to make too many plans,” Walsh said.
Maxfield debuted a winner last September at Churchill Downs and impressively took Keeneland’s Breeders’ Futurity (G1) a month later. Plans for a Breeders’ Cup Juvenile start were then dashed due to an ankle chip that required minor surgery.
Connections took their time getting Maxfield back to the starting gates after that injury. When he returned, he won Churchill’s Matt Winn Stakes (G3) in May off a seven-month layoff, reestablishing himself as a contender for 2020’s postponed Triple Crown races.
But another injury – this time, a non-displaced condylar fracture – kept Maxfield on the bench as the biggest 3-year-old events of the season came and went. He recovered and started his second comeback Oct. 25 with a timed work at Keeneland.
Maxfield has “been working away steadily” since returning to Walsh’s barn, the trainer said. Walsh will have two more timed works to evaluate the colt before determining if he will make his fourth career start in the Tenacious.
“He’s come back good again,” Walsh said. “He’s a very straightforward horse to train. He was always a horse that needed to mature physically, so he’s matured and gotten stronger. He’s almost there now physically.
"That’s nice because the more time he was going to get, hopefully the better he will get. Hopefully we’ll get a clear run with him this time and get to see the best of him, or near the best of him, anyway.”