Maxfield steals the show on Stephen Foster day at Churchill Downs

June 27, 2021

Maxfield sweeps past the field and to the head of the class with a geared down win in the Stephen Foster at Churchill Downs

Stephen Foster day stakes wrap up

Maxfield delivered a brilliant turn of foot around the final turn to comfortably grab the lead in Saturday’s 40th running of the $600,000 Stephen Foster (Grade II) at Churchill Downs as the 4-year-old colt collected his sixth career stakes win while defeating Warrior’s Charge by 3 ¼ lengths and clocking 1 1/8 miles in 1:48.53 on closing day of the Louisville, Ky. track’s 38-day Spring Meet.

Trained by Brendan Walsh and owned by Sheikh Mohammed Al Maktoum’s Godolphin, Maxfield was rated in sixth and in the clear as Empty Tomb and Sprawl led the field of nine older horses into the first turn and down the backstretch through factions of :23.33 and :46.88. Sprawl took over midway around the turn with three furlongs to run but a menacing Maxfield commenced his rally and quickly shot past each rival one by one with utter superiority. He extended his lead down the stretch under a hand ride and then was taken in hand with a sixteenth of a mile to the finish.

“It was a really good performance,” Walsh said. “It looks like he continues to improve all the time. Thankfully now he’s been good and healthy. Our goal has been to get a good string of races into him and that’s starting to happen. I’m glad to get over another obstacle today. We’ll hope he comes out of today’s race in good order and we’ll move on to the next one.”

The lofty $357,120 first prize lifted the classy dark bay or brown Kentucky-bred’s earnings to millionaire status: $1,265,902 from a record of 7-0-1 in eight starts. His lone blemish was a third in the $400,000 Santa Anita Handicap (GI) in March.

“I just sort of had to stay out of his way,” said winning rider Jose Ortiz. “He has a big stride and does it so nicely. It’s great to be back here at Churchill with this horse. He seems to be getting better and loves it here.”

The victory in the Stephen Foster, a Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In Classic Division” race, earned Maxfield a guaranteed spot in the starting gate for the $6 million Longines Classic (GI), which is scheduled for Nov. 6 at Del Mar. Also, his connections will have all Breeders’ Cup pre-entry and entry fees covered and receive a travel award up to $10,000.

Maxfield, at the compressed odds of 2-5, rewarded his backers with mutuels of $2.80, $2.20 and $2.10. Warrior’s Charge, with Florent Geroux aboard, closed for second and returned $5 and $3.60 as the 7-1 second betting choice. Sprawl, another two lengths back in third under Brian Hernandez Jr., paid $4.20 to show at odds of 12-1.

South BendChess Chief, Empty Tomb, Necker IslandVisitant and Silver Dust completed the order of finish.

Maxfield, winner of the Grade I Breeders’ Futurity at age 2, was on the Road to the Kentucky Derby in 2020 when he cruised to a one-length victory in the $150,000 Matt Winn (GIII) at Churchill Downs. Unfortunately, due to a condylar fracture following a workout at Keeneland, Maxfield went on the sidelines until the fall. He returned to competition in December at Fair Grounds and posted wins in the $75,000 Tenacious and $200,000 Mineshaft (GIII) at Fair Grounds. Following his third behind Idol and Express Train at Santa Anita, Maxfield returned to win the $400,000 Alysheba (GII) on the Kentucky Oaks undercard.

“We had a lot of confidence today,” said Godolphin North American President Jimmy Bell. “He settled down up the backside and down the lane he finished in a strong hand ride. It’s his fourth start of the year, so it’s good to see the succession of races coming together. We can look at the (Aug. 7) Whitney (GI) as a primary target.”

Maxfield is a son of 2007 Kentucky Derby winner Street Sense out of the Bernardini mare Velvety and was bred by his owners.


Letruska validated her status as America’s top older dirt female with a front-running 5 ¾-length demolition job in Saturday’s 46th running of the $300,000 Fleur de Lis (Grade II) at Churchill Downs. Antoinette was second, three-quarters of a length in front of Envoutantein third.

Sent to post as the odds-on 3-5 favorite in the field of six fillies and mares, Letruska, under Jose Ortiz, dictated the terms and loped on the lead through quarter-mile splits of :24.53, :48.19 and 1:11.36 with Antoinette briefly applying pressure down the backstretch. Letruska opened up her lead on the turn and continued to widen the margin down the stretch for a comfortable triumph in 1:48.57 for 1 1/8 miles.

By winning the Fleur de Lis, Letruska secured a “Win and You’re In” berth to the $4 million Longines Distaff (GI) on Nov. 6 at Del Mar.

“She’s a spectacular horse, said trainer Fausto Gutierrez. “I don’t really like to say what’s next but she was great today. We know she’s a really nice dirt horse and is supposed to win at different racetracks and different conditions for a possible Horse of the Year campaign.”

Letruska paid $3.40, $2.80 and $2.10. Antoinette, with jockey Florent Geroux aboard, paid $10.60 and $4.40 as the 22-1 longest shot in the field. Envoutante, the 2-1 second betting choice ridden by Brian Hernandez Jr., returned $2.40.

Point of HonorSpice Is Nice and Vault rounded out the field.

Letruska, a 5-year-old daughter of Super Saver out of the Successful Appeal mare Magic Appeal, improved her record to 15-1-1 in 20 starts and the $184,140 first prized boosted her career earnings to $1,616,459. She was bred in Kentucky by her owner, German Larrea’s St. George Stable LLC.

Earlier this year, Letruska scored a front-running victory in the $500,000 Ogden Phipps (GI) on the Belmont Stakes undercard. In April, she re-rallied against multiple champion Monomoy Girl to win the $1 million Apple Blossom (GI).

“There was a little question mark coming into this race off three weeks rest but I knew Fausto is a great trainer and he’d have her ready,” Ortiz said. “She is a really nice mare and she was ready today. She got to the front pretty easy and she was comfortable the entire way around there.”

Letruska has won six graded stakes in the last two years.


Juddmonte’s Set Piece (GB) weaved through traffic in deep stretch to collar pace-setting Somelikeithotbrown to win Saturday’s 32nd running of the $300,000 Wise Dan (Grade II) at Churchill Downs.

Trained by Brad Cox and ridden by Florent Geroux, Set Piece (GB) completed 1 1/16 miles over the firm Matt Winn Turf Course in 1:40.50, just .24 seconds off the stakes record set by Kasaqui (ARG) in 2017.

“He’s a very nice horse,” Geroux said. “No matter where he comes from, inside or outside, he always seems to rally late. Turning for home, he gave me his best run. I’m very proud of this horse and I think this year is the best we’ve seen from him.”

Somelikeithotbrown broke sharply from the gate under Jose Ortiz and set early fractions of :24.18 and :47.94. While Somelikeithotbrown had a solo lead, Set Piece (GB) was in ninth early. Following three-quarters of a mile in 1:11.70, Set Piece began to make his charge at Somelikeithotbrown. At the head of the lane, Set Piece (GB) continued to close significant ground but was still about seven lengths behind Somelikeithotbrown. Inside the eighth-pole Geroux navigated Set Piece (GB) inside tiring Field Pass to rally past Somelikeithotbrown by a half-length.

Set Piece (GB) returned $5.40, $3.40 and $2.40 for his Wise Dan victory. Somelikeithotbrown paid $3.80 and $2.80. Ride a Comet, under jockey Tyler Gaffalione finished third and paid $3.

Set Piece (GB) is a 5-year-old gelded son of Dansili (GB) out of the Kingmambo mare Portodora. He was bred in Great Britain by Juddmonte.

Set Piece earned $176,700 for his Wise Dan victory, which improved his career earnings to $433,744. He sports a stout record of 16-9-1-1 with four victories over the Matt Winn Turf Course.

“A lot of credit goes to the Juddmonte team who kept this horse in training at five-years-old,” Cox said. “Today he was able to get by a very good horse late. We’re very proud of him. Flo gave a great ride and saved as much ground as possible.”

Field Pass, Kentucky GhostSpooky ChannelMutakatif (IRE), In Love (BRZ), Hierarchy and Super Sol completed the order of finish.


East Coast invader Double Thunder from the powerful Todd Pletcher stable rallied into a collapsing pace from last to defeat Vodka N Water by 4 ¾ lengths in Saturday’s 120th running of the $150,000 Bashford Manor (Grade III) for 2-year-olds at Churchill Downs. Glacial was another head back in third.

Ridden by Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez, Double Thunder clocked six furlongs in 1:11.17.

Pletcher, who celebrated his 53rd birthday Saturday, won the Bashford Manor for the third time after wins by Limehouse in 2003 and Circular Quay in 2006.

Double Thunder hopped at the start and was last as Lansdowne and Tapped Off set the pace through fractions of :21.00 and :45.30. Glacial, the filly Shesgotattitudeand Whatstheconnection also were in close pursuit down the backstretch.

Leaving the turn, Double Thunder commenced his rally as Glacial took over with 56-1 longshot Knocker Down on his right hip. Despite having to close from the back of the pack, Double Thunder had clear sailing down on the inside, swung out at the three-sixteenths pole and easily ran down the weary Glacial, who was edged by a closing Vodka N Water for the place.

“I didn’t think we would break as slow as he did so we had to adjust a little bit after the start,” Velazquez said. “Once I got to the quarter-pole I had a lot of confidence in him and thought we had a big shot. He did everything professionally today. Warming up, he didn’t handle going with the pony as well so I warmed him up by himself. I knew there would be a lot of speed in the race and wanted to keep him close – just not last. You don’t expect a 2-year-old to handle things like that as well as he did. He took dirt and handled it well and I think he can move forward a lot from that.”

Double Thunder’s triumph was worth $88,350 for owner Aamer Abdulaziz Ahmed’s Phoenix Thoroughbred III Ltd. and increased his bankroll to $116,850 with a perfect record in two starts. His debut win came June 5 at Monmouth Park.

A $60,000 yearling buy, Double Thunder is a 2-year-old son of Pletcher’s 2010 Kentucky Derby winner Super Saver out of the Tapit mare Rattataptap. He was bred in Kentucky by WinStar Farm LLC.

Double Thunder returned $10.20, $6 and $3.80 as the 4-1 fourth betting choice. Vodka N Water, under Jose Ortiz at 7-1, paid $7 and $4.20. Glacial paid $3.40 to show under Joe Talamo at 3-1.

Knocker Down, 5-2 favorite Red Run, Shesgotattitude, Lansdowne, Whistlewhileyoumow, Whatstheconnection and Tapped Off completed the order of finish. Rising Outlaw was a late scratch.

First run in 1902, the Bashford Manor is named for the former Louisville Thoroughbred breeding and racing farm that dominated the American racing scene in the early 1900s. George J. Long, a wealthy foundry owner, purchased Bashford Manor Farm in 1887 and developed his Thoroughbred operation that provided him two Derby wins as an owner, 1892 (Azra) and 1906 (Sir Huon), and three as a breeder, 1892 (Azra), 1899 (Manuel) and 1906 (Sir Huon). In addition, Bashford Manor also won the Kentucky Oaks in 1894 (Selika) and 1915 (Kathleen). The original Wilder family owned Bashford Manor. The Wilders were direct descendants of Lord Baltimore, whose English home was also called Bashford Manor. Long died in 1930 and the farm was eventually sold in 1973 to make way for the development of a mall complex, fittingly named Bashford Manor, that formally closed in 2003.


Lucky Seven Stable’s Behave Virginia ran down swift pacesetter Wicked Halo and out-kicked 7-5 favorite Ontheonesandtwos in deep stretch to win Saturday’s $120th running of the $150,000 Debutante (Listed) at Churchill Downs by one length.

Ridden by Brian Hernandez Jr. and trained by Kenny McPeek, Behave Virginia ran the first sub-1:10 Debutante since Rated Fiesty’s 2007 stakes record of 1:09.27.

The quick final time was the result of a record-setting pace and a fast track. Wicked Halo, who broke from the rail in the field of eight 2-year-old fillies, was rushed to the front with Tizplenty and Mollie Kate just off her hip. Down the backstretch after a first quarter mile in :21.11 and the half in :44.61, Behave Virginia was rated in fourth with Ontheonesandtwos on the outside in the clear. Wicked Halo put away the accompanying speed leaving the turn and was quickly met by the converging Behave Virginia and Ontheonesandtwos at the three-sixteenths pole. Behave Virginia edged clear with a sixteenth of a mile to run and Ontheonesandtwos slipped past an understandably tiring Wicked Halo by a half-length for the place.

“She’s a really talented filly to be able to sit behind some pretty good horses like that and win the way she did,” Hernandez said. “When the spot opened up, she went through like an old professional would. It’s a testament of how good she is. She answered a lot of questions today and we are very proud of her.”

The victory was worth $90,210 which increased the 2-year-old filly’s earnings to $147,698 with a perfect record in two starts. Prior to her Debutante triumph, Behave Virginia broke her maiden at Churchill Downs on May 28 by 5 ¾ lengths at odds of 7-1.

“Typically we don’t crank our horses to win first time out,” McPeek said. “Usually when they win first out it’s because they do it on their own talent. That’s what she did. She reminds me of Take Charge Lady with her early ability on the racetrack. I think we may have seen a Breeders’ Cup contender. I’ll point her to the Alcibiades (in the Fall Meet at Keeneland) and go from there. I’ll probably take her to Saratoga with me this summer just so I can keep an eye on her.”

Behave Virginia paid $10.20, $4.20 and $3.20 as the 4-1 third betting choice. Ontheonesandtwos, under Florent Geroux, returned $3.20 and $2.40. Wicked Halo, with Ricardo Santana Jr. up, paid $2.80.

Tizplenty, ClassinessCatchusifyoucanCompressed Energy and Mollie Kate completed the order of finish.

Behave Virginia is a 2-year-old daughter of Unified out of the Mineshaft mare She’s Behaving. She was bred in Kentucky by Khalid Mishref Alkahtani and was purchased as a yearling at the 2020 Keeneland September Sale for Michael J. Mackin’s Lucky Seven Stable for $115,000.

The Debutante, first staged in 1895 and one of Churchill Downs’ most storied races, was one the second of three stakes races on Saturday’s closing day card at Churchill Downs.


Silverton Hill LLC’s homebred Next led every step of the way and comfortably won Saturday’s second running of the $150,000 War Chant at Churchill Downs by 3 ¾ lengths over Royal PrinceHelium, the even-money favorite, was another 2 ¾ lengths back in third, who finished a head in front of Dyn O Mite.

Trained by Wesley Ward and ridden by John Velazquez, Next prevailed in a field of four 3-year-olds as he covered one mile on firm turf in 1:35.09 after setting comfortable fractions of :24.03, :48.40 and 1:12.53 without any pressure.

“I knew he was a pretty speedy horse so the situation worked out well today being on the front end,” Velazquez said. “He seems to do his best running when he can get a lead and he was able to get a pretty easy one today.”

The victory was worth $97,500 and increased Next’s earnings to $199,394 with a record of 3-0-0 in six starts. The Kentucky-bred son of Not This Time out of the Awesome Again mare Bahia Beach previously finished 11th at 22-1 in the $500,000 American Turf (Grade II) on the Kentucky Derby undercard. At age 2, he broke his maiden on turf at Kentucky Downs and won a first-level allowance on dirt at Keeneland before finishing last of 14 in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (GI).

“He’s a really tough horse when he’s on the front end and when he comes from behind he’s just not the same horse,” Ward explained. “I thought if he broke well and was on the front end we’d have a great shot today.”

Next returned $6.60 and $3.20 at odds of 2-1. Royal Prince, ridden by Florent Geroux, returned $3. There was no show wagering because AccreditEl KabongIn Effect and Starrininmydreamswere late scratches.

The War Chant, which is named in honor of the 3-year-old who won the Breeders’ Cup Mile (GI) at Churchill Downs in 2000, was the first leg of the Derby City 6 which had a mandatory payout of the $166,087 jackpot carryover. A total of $1,142,890 in new money was bet into the closing day pool.


G. Watts Humphrey Jr.’s Navratilova held off the late challenge of Tobys Heart and New Boss to win Saturday’s second running of the $150,000 Tepin Stakes at Churchill Downs.

Trained by Rusty Arnold II and ridden by Brian Hernandez Jr., Navratilova completed one-mile on the firm Matt Winn Turf Course in 1:35.56. The Tepin was the final race that will be held over the current turf course before a $10 million renovation this summer at Churchill Downs.

Navratilova set early quarter-mile fractions of :24.35 and :48.99. Around the far turn, Adam Beschizza aboard New Boss ranged alongside Navratilova. The duo battled for nearly a quarter-mile when the highly-regarded Tobys Heart and jockey Javier Castellano ranged alongside the two fillies. Navratilova dug in gamely at the rail for a half-length victory.

“She relaxed well up front and had her ears up,” Hernandez said. “Down the stretch she really had to dig in to hold off those challengers. She ran well and handled the distance like we thought she could.”

Navratilova rewarded her backers at odds of 9-1 and paid $20.80, $9.40 and $7. Tobys Heart finished a head in front of New Boss to return $4.80 and $4.20. New Boss paid $5.80.

Town AvengerAdventuringArm CandyInvincible Gal (GB)Bullseye BeautyCommanders PalaceBarista and Fairchild completed the order of finish.

With her win Saturday, Navratilova improved her record to 5-2-0-2 with purse earnings of $136,340. She was bred in Kentucky by her owner.

“Her dam (Centre Court) was a Grade I winner going 1 1/16 miles so we thought she’d like the distance today,” Arnold said. “She was sprinting in her last start which she didn’t handle as well but did much better today.”

The Tepin is named after the brilliant two-time Eclipse Award-winning turf mare in 2015-16.


Jose Ortiz, jockey of MAXFIELD (winner): “I just sort of had to stay out of his way. He has a big stride and does it so nicely. It’s great to be back here at Churchill with this horse. He seems to be getting better and loves it here. In the Alysheba (GII) he had to do a little bit of running that day. Today, I just had to take care of him and he handled it so easily own his own.

Brendan Walsh, trainer of MAXFIELD (winner): “It was a really good performance. It looks like he continues to improve all the time. Thankfully now he’s been good and healthy. Our goal has been to get a good string of races into him and that’s starting to happen. I’m glad to get over another obstacle today. We’ll hope he comes out of today’s race in good order and we’ll move on to the next one.

Jimmy Bell, president of Godolphin, owner of MAXFIELD (winner): “We had a lot of confidence today. He settled down up the backside and down the lane he finished in a strong hand ride. It’s his fourth start of the year, so it’s good to see the succession of races coming together. We can look at the (Aug. 7) Whitney (GI) as a primary target.”

Florent Geroux, jockey of WARRIOR’S CHARGE (runner-up): “He relaxed really well today and I tried to make a little run but Maxfield was just a little bit too strong for him today. He ran a good race and was second best today.”

Brad Cox, trainer of WARRIOR’S CHARGE (runner-up): “He ran a solid race. (Maxfield) is a very nice horse for Godolphin. Warrior’s Charge is now a millionaire with today’s finish and that’s really special to us.”

Churchill Downs Press Release

Photo: Coady Photography, Maxfield winning the Stephen Foster stakes

Very well done piece by The King, John Stettin…

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