Edited Press Release — A potentially lucrative and prolific 2021 campaign gets underway in the twilight of 2020 when Maxfield makes his long-anticipated return to the races in Saturday’s $75,000 Tenacious Stakes at the Fair Grounds in New Orleans, La. Run as the finale, the 1 1/16-mile Tenacious is the last of six $75,000 stakes run as part of the 13-race Santa Super Saturday card. Clearly, the eyes of the racing world will be focused on Fair Grounds as the undefeated Maxfield makes his first start since May.
Godolphin LLC’s homebred Maxfield (post 6 at 8-5 on the morning line with Florent Geroux to ride) has had plenty of heartaches sprinkled in amongst a perfect 3-for-3 lifetime record for trainer Brendan Walsh. He was forced to miss the 2019 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile with a minor foot injury and then got derailed off the Kentucky Derby trail soon after his win in Churchill’s May 23 Matt Winn (G3). The 3-year-old son of Street Sense came out of a June 10 workout with a condylar fracture of his right front cannon bone, which prompted his connections to scrap any thoughts at a run in the Kentucky Derby on Sept. 5.
“We always thought he’d be a nicer 3-year-old, so to come back the way he did, then to lose him for the Derby was terribly disappointing,” Walsh said. “But at least we’re getting another go with the horse. It would have been a terrible shame if we didn’t get him back and he couldn’t show what we think he’s capable of.”
Maxfield broke his maiden on debut at Churchill in September 2019 and turned around a month later to win Keeneland’s prestigious Breeders’ Futurity (G1) by 5 ¼ lengths. He didn’t resurface until the 2020 Matt Winn and now reappears in the Tenacious. With just three races in a stop-and-start career, Maxfield has plenty of upside as a lightly raced colt. He’s worked eight times since late October, most recently logging 4 furlongs in :48.80 on Nov. 13 at Fair Grounds.
“He came out of his work great and we’re looking forward to Saturday,” Walsh said. “We’re happy what he’s done. It (the Tenacious) was in my mind for a while, with the timing, and I think Fair Grounds will suit the horse, with the long straight and all. We haven’t gotten anywhere near the bottom of him yet. He’s as good as ever; he’s matured beautifully, physically-speaking.”
Maxfield figures odds-on in a Tenacious that drew seven runners, though he spots recency to several, including Courtlandt Farms’ Sonneman (post 5 at 3-1 with Ricardo Santana Jr.), who enters off a rousing optional-claiming win Nov. 4 at Churchill Downs. The 3-year-old son of Curlin has run five times for trainer Steve Asmussen after beginning his career with trainer Mark Hennig. He was the runner-up in Churchill’s Pat Day Mile (G2) three back in September before running second in a Keeneland optional-claimer in October. Sonneman is 3-for-9 lifetime and has a plenty of early tactical speed that will enable him to get first run on Maxfield.
Lothenbach Stables Inc’s Captivating Moon (post 3 at 9-2 with Brian Hernandez Jr.) won the local “off-the-turf” Buddy Diliberto Memorial on the Santa Super Saturday card last year and he is cross-entered in the race again this year. The 5-year-old son of Malibu Moon is winless in seven starts this year for trainer Chris Block but he has faced some tough competition. He was fourth to Silver Dust in the local Mineshaft (G3) in February before running second to By My Standards in the New Orleans Classic (G2) here in March. Captivating Moon is 4-for-26 lifetime and would be a stretch danger should he start.
Completing the Tenacious field from the rail out: Cool Bobby (12-1 with James Graham), a potential pace-setter for trainer Cherie DeVaux; G M B Racing’s Locally Owned (post 2 at 5-1 with Miguel Mena), who enters off an optional-claiming win November 11 for trainer Al Stall Jr.; Wayne T Davis’ Mocito Rojo (post 4 at 8-1 with Jack Gilligan), who won the Lukas Classic (G3) at Churchill in 2019 for trainer Shane Wilson but is just 1-for-8 since; and Al Rashid Stables LLC’s Dinar (post seven at 12-1 with Shaun Bridgmohan), a close fourth two-back in Churchill’s Ack Ack (G3) for DeVaux.