Maxfield says unbeaten for Godolphin with stroll in the park win in the Grade 3 Mineshaft at the Fair Grounds

February 14, 2021

Just Might repeats in Colonel Power off-the-turf after winning on turf last year

New Orleans (February 13, 2021) – There may have been an anxious moment or two at the start of the $200,000 Mineshaft (G3) but there were hardly any late. Godolphin’s homebred Maxfield remained undefeated in five starts and delivered another “wow” performance in his comeback, registering an easier than it looked 3 ¼-length win over Sonneman on Louisiana Derby Preview Day at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots.

Maxfield, under Florent Geroux, hopped in the air at the start of the Mineshaft and found himself at the back of the six-horse field while longshot Dinar cleared on the lead and opened up a big edge early. A tight field that expected to have a slow pace was turned upside down on the backstretch, as Dinar continued to barrel along, opening up 10 lengths while rattling off a half-mile in a snappy 47.49. The complexion of the Minefield predictably changed entering the far turn, as Blackberry Wine and Chess Chief were the first to move, with Maxfield quick to take up the chase. The .60-1 favorite overpowered the leaders in midstretch, kicked clear with authority over late-rallying Sonneman, who was a half-length ahead of Chess Chief.

Maxfield, a 4-year-old son of Street Sense, has always been thought of as one of the most talented horses in training, though actually training has proven to be a bit of an obstacle for trainer Brendan Walsh. Entering the Mineshaft, Maxfield had started just four times in three seasons of racing and was forced to miss the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile in 2019 with a minor foot injury and then got derailed off the Kentucky Derby Trail last year when he came out of a June workout with a condylar fracture of his right front cannon bone.

Walsh, as patient and talented a horseman there is on the grounds, was forced to back off again and point to 2021. Maxfield got going again in the local December 19 Tenacious, beating Sonneman by an easy 2 ½ lengths. After a very brief illness that forced Maxfield to miss about a week of training, the Mineshaft was up next, and it marked just the second time Walsh’s stable star has been able to put back-to-back races together. Walsh deflected the majority of the credit on to a horse who is now 5-for-5, with earnings of $615,262.

“He’s just a special horse; you point him in the right direction and he does it for you,” Walsh said. “It’s a privilege to have him in our barn. I’d like to thank the whole team at Godolphin, (owner) Sheikh Mohammed, and the whole team. And my team as well; they’ve done some fantastic work, my two assistants. He’s really progressed and he’s turning into the horse we always hoped he would be.”

Maxfield burst on to the scene at 2 when he won the 2019 Breeders’ Futurity (G1) at Keeneland but couldn’t make the Juvenile. The song played out the same in 2020 when he won

Churchill Downs’ Matt Winn (G3) in May only to be forced off the Derby Trail with the aforementioned fracture. Walsh has never really allowed himself to look that much into the future with Maxfield, for obvious reasons, but with the $12 million Dubai World Cup (G1) looming March 27, it could be time for a big step up in class.

“’We’ll see (about the World Cup),” Walsh said. “We’ll go back, see how he comes out, talk to the team, and come up with a plan. All options are open. We’ll enjoy today. He’s making the progress we want him to make and I think we’re in great shape with the horse.”

Geroux rode Maxfield for the first time in the Tenacious and got rave reviews for putting him into the race early, as the colt was thought as a come-from-behind closer during his first three starts. Showing early speed quickly went out the window in the Mineshaft, when dinar ran off early, not that he took note.

“I generally didn’t pay any attention to the horse on the lead, I just rode my horse” Geroux said. “Whatever he was comfortable with was good with us. The key I think with this horse is getting him into a nice rhythm, whatever is comfortable, even if it’s closer or farther. Whatever is comfortable. From there I was just clocking the horses in front and when I asked him down the lane he gave me a very nice kick.”

Courtlandt Farms’ Sonneman was game in defeat and improved on his fourth-place finish in the local Louisiana (G3) January 16. The 4-year-old son of Curlin was second to Maxfield in the Tenacious for trainer Steve Asmussen, who won’t complain if Maxfield doesn’t show up for the New Orleans Handicap (G2) here on Louisiana Derby Day March 20.

“He ran his race but Maxfield is just a good horse,” Asmussen said. “I was happy with his effort and we’ll point him to the New Orleans Classic.”

Photo Maxfield when he won the Tenacious Stakes at the Fair Grounds on Dec. 19  (Hodges Photography / Lou Hodges Jr)

Just Might speeds off to Colonel Power repeat;

versatile sprinter wires off-the-turfer after winning it on grass last year

Turf or dirt, sloppy or fast, it doesn’t matter to Just Might. Putting a pair of tough-luck stakes seconds at the meet behind him, the defending Colonel Power champion repeated in the $100,000 stakes—albeit this year on the dirt—leading every step of the way for a 5-length win over favored Extravagant Kid in what kicked off a six-pack of stakes action on Louisiana Derby Preview Day at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots.

Trainer Michelle Lovell and Griffon Farms’ homebred Just Might (2.70-1) broke running under Colby Hernandez in the off-the-turf Colonel Power, which was run over a fast main track, and set a strong pace of 22.36 and 44.89 over while being chased early by Bango. Well within himself over a track playing to speed, Just Might was also well ahead of 1.60-1 favorite Extravangant Kid, who broke a bit slow and settled in last in the field-of-six. Just Might widened while in hand turning for home, opened up in midstretch, and easily coasted clear under the line, stopping the timer in 1:02.75 over a closing Extravagant Kid, who finished three quarters of a length in front of Went West.

Just Might, a 5-year-old son of Justin Phillip, has been one of the better turf sprinters in the Midwest the past several seasons, with a resume highlighted by last year’s Colonel Power win over the Stall-Wilson Turf Course. He entered off a pair of “win the battle lose the war” second-place finishes in the local Richard S. Scherer Memorial in December and Kenner, but had also won by 7 ¾ lengths in the slop over the track and distance last year. Lovell knew the Colonel Power wasn’t your typical off-the-turf race.

“He ran against some nice dirt horses today; Brendan’s horse (Extravagant Kid) is really good on the dirt and obviously (dirt stakes stalwart) Manny Wah,” Lovell said. “I thought it was a real tough race on the dirt. Usually I like it when it comes off because you get a few good scratches but he beat some nice horses.”

Regardless of surface, Just Might has shown plenty of speed in his races, which was that much more important over a main track that had been playing to speed during the first half of the card.

“After watching the first two races and then beyond, I knew we had to send,” Lovell said. “We never asked him away, so we figured we’d better send him away and try to keep an advantage if we got it.”

Just Might improved to 4-for-23 lifetime and is now a stakes winner on turf and dirt. He was third in Churchill Downs’ Turf Sprint (G2) and Keeneland’s Woodford (G2) last year and clearly has the look of a major player wherever he resurfaces for the rest of the year. Hernandez has been aboard his last six starts—all on turf—though he knows Just Might’s speed plays on any surface.

“I think he’s as good on dirt as he is on turf; it doesn’t matter,” Hernandez said. “He breaks so sharp and he’s got natural speed and we used that to our advantage. When I called on him at the top of the stretch he just ran on.

DARRS’ Extravagant Kid became racing’s newest millionaire with the runner-up effort, the third time he’s settled for second in three starts this year for trainer Brendan Walsh. The 8-year-old son of Kiss the Kid is an eight-time stakes winner and has now earned $1,001,610 in a 14-for-49 career. Extravagant Kid broke a bit slow under Florent 

Geroux and therefore spotted the winner a few more lengths than expected early on.

“He moved a little when the gate opened and was a little further back behind the leaders, as opposed to being on their heels, but he ran great,” Walsh said. “I’m proud of him; he’s run good again and he shows up every time. With sprinters, you’re not going to win all the time. Everything’s got to go perfect; if the smallest thing goes wrong, which it did a little bit here, you’re not going to win. But to earn a million dollars, we’re really proud of him.”

Press Release

Photo Maxfield (Hodges Photography / Lou Hodges Jr)

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