LEXINGTON, Ky. (Friday, Oct. 18, 2o19) — There are certain things that happen around a trainer’s barn when an unbeaten Grade 1 winner is within the shedrow. For one, otherwise routine workouts become a crowd-drawing event.
As Godolphin’s homebred Maxfield headed to the Keeneland main track Friday morning for his first breeze since capturing the Grade 1 Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity Oct. 5 in just his second career outing, the trail of connections, cameras, and onlookers tracking his path signified to trainer Brendan Walsh that a new kind of spotlight had indeed descended on his crew.
Under the watchful gaze of Walsh and Godolphin USA president Jimmy Bell, Maxfield provided an impressive visual as he worked an easy half-mile in 48.60 seconds in preparation for his expected start in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at Santa Anita Park on Nov. 1.
Working solo under exercise rider Paul Madden, Maxfield clocked splits of :12.70 and :25.11 with a gallop out in 1:01.67. It was all standard fare from the son of the Street Sense who swept past rivals effortlessly in the lane en route to taking the Breeders’ Futurity by 5 ½ lengths.
“He’s been looking to do something the last couple of days,” Walsh said of the colt who gave him his first career Grade 1 triumph. “If we were getting on the plane tomorrow, I’d be pretty happy with him. If we could have the same order next week, I think we’ll be bang on target.”
It has been a quick progression for Maxfield since getting his race career underway at Churchill Downs last month. After spending the summer training at Ellis Park, the bay colt debuted beneath the Twin Spires Sept. 14 with a three-quarter length win going one mile. The decision to wheel back into top-level company three weeks later was one that Walsh joked cost him a night or two of restful sleep. But ultimately, it was Maxfield and his strong demeanor who called his shot.
“Everything is positive with him, that’s the best way to put it,” Walsh said. “He’s got a good look in his eye. His whole demeanor, the way he eats, the way he sleeps, he just gives you the impression that he’s doing good. It seems since he started racing, even since the last time now, he gets a little more presence about him all the time.
“He’s like the perfect employee, everything you ask him to do he just does. There are no questions asked.”
Walsh said the plan is for Maxfield to have one more workout at Keeneland – preferably on Oct. 25 – before shipping out to California Oct. 26 along with British-bred stablemate Vitalogy, who is bound for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf on the heels of his runner-up effort in the Oct. 6 Grade 3 Dixiana Bourbon Stakes.
A native of Ireland, Walsh will be seeking to add a first Breeders’ Cup triumph to an already banner season that has seen him capture the Group 2, $2.5 million UAE Derby with Plus Que Parfait.
“We’re trying to enjoy it the best we can,” Walsh said of his Breeders’ Cup expectations. “The only thing we can do is bring them over there the best we can. Both of them have the ability and neither are going to let us down as far as effort-wise. They’re going to go out there and run their best race, and we can’t ask for more than that. If it works out, then well and good. If it doesn’t there will be other day.”
Alicia Hughes is the director of NTRA Communications and a former turf writer for The Blood-Horse and Lexington Herald-Leader.