Maxfield back with a bang in Group 3 Matt Winn Stakes - GulfToday

Maxfield back with a bang in Group 3 Matt Winn Stakes


Maxfield, ridden by Jose Ortiz, runs towards the finish line during Matt Winn Stakes on dirt at Churchill Downs on Saturday.

Maxfield enjoyed the perfect start to his three-year-old campaign as he maintained his unbeaten record with a cosy success in the extended-mile G3 Matt Winn Stakes on dirt at Churchill Downs, US, on Saturday.

Making his first start since comprehensively taking the G1 Breeders’ Futurity at Keeneland in October, the Brendan Walsh-trained colt raced up with the early pace before settling in a close eighth of the 10 runners after the first quarter-mile.

Maxfield took closer order around the field turning in and quickened strongy down the centre of the course in the straight, reeling in NY Traffic and Pneumatic inside the final half-furlong. The Street Sense homebred readily went on and was eased on the line by Jose Ortiz for a length success.

Godolphin US President Jimmy Bell said: “It was nice to see that Maxfield was able to maintain the same level of professionalism and consistency that he showed as a two-year-old.

“Maxfield had been off since October but I think that Brendan was quietly very confident that the horse was going to give a good account of himself. He felt that Maxfield was spot on in terms of fitness, while his mental attitude has always set him apart from day one.

“It’s great to see him back at the races and deliver a performance like that. This was a slightly different race compared to his two previous starts, when he walked out of the gates and picked off horses as he pleased. Today, he broke very sharply and was right up in the mix – he was behind a wall of horses and had to wait for his opportunity. When Jose got him to the outside and set Maxfield on his way in the straight, you could see he was moving best of all.

“Brendan was very focused on today’s race and there are numerous opportunities for Maxfield now. We were able to confirm what we hoped we had, and now we can sit down and think about plans going forward.”

Meanwhile, Godolphins’s hopes were dashed at Japanese Oaks as the firm favourite Woman’s Heart was beaten by Daring Tact, who captured the 81st running of the race on Sunday and became the second unbeaten horse and first in 63 years to win two legs of the prestigious Japanese filly triple crown.

Ridden by champion jockey Kohei Matsuyama, Daring Tact made her way through a jam in the middle of the pack before finding space just after the final turn of the 2,400-metre turf meet in Tokyo. After going clear in front of the chasing pack, she finished the race with a huge gap of 2 minutes, 24.4 seconds.

Matsuyama expressed his delight, saying: “Of course, I’m happy to win,” Matsuyama said. “But as she was the favorite, I’m also relieved.”

“Through the first half of the race, the battle for position was very fierce, so I dropped back briefly to save strength. But she’s a strong finisher so I had confidence in her.”

Seventh-favorite Win Marilyn finished second a half-length behind, and 13th-pick Win Mighty took third a further neck back.

Matsuyama steered Daring Tact to her maiden Grade 1 victory in the first leg of the series for 3-year-olds, the Oka-sho, last month.

The race favorite prevailed Sunday without fans in the stands as part of the Japan Racing Association’s measures to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Undefeated over four starts, Daring Tact became the 15th horse to win both the Oka-sho and Japanese Oaks. The last filly with a perfect record to do so was Miss Onward in 1957.

Japan’s filly triple crown wraps up in October with the Shuka-sho. Only five fillies have claimed all three races, with Almond Eye last accomplishing the feat in 2018.

Earlier, Kementari’s “back-to-the-future” exercise continues with undiminished enthusiasm at Eagle Farm in Saturday’s G2 Victory Stakes, a race that shapes as the most suitable he has encountered since returning to the racetrack.

A winner of the G1 Randwick Guineas and one of the best colts of his generation in his first incarnation as a racehorse, Kementari (Ryan Maloney) joined the Darley stallion roster in 2019 but fertility issues resulted in him being gelded and put back into work.


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