Brendan Walsh admitted to a sense of relief after watching Maxfield return to action in winning style in the $75,000 Tenacious Stakes at Fair Grounds.
The Godolphin-owned Maxfield is now a perfect four-from-four in a truncated start to his racing career in which he has twice been forced to recover from injuries, but his ability remains unchecked.
Sent off the 2-5 favourite under Florent Geroux in his latest comeback, the Grade 1 winner sat off the pace at Fair Grounds before stretching clear of his rivals in comfortable fashion once asked.
He had three-lengths to spare over Sonneman in second spot, with Dinar and Cool Bobby chasing the duo home. Seeing Maxfield back on the racetrack and doing what he does best was a thrill for Walsh, who admits connections can now look forward with confidence again.
“I’m relieved,” Walsh said. “It’s nice to get him back (to the races) and have him run so well. He was working so well going into it, you’re just looking for confirmation. He gave us what we needed to see. Hopefully he comes out of it ok and we move forward from here.”
Geroux was on board for the first time, with Jose Ortiz having ridden Maxfield in his three previous starts. The jockey was impressed by what he had under him.
“This is a horse who is maturing,” Geroux said. “When I worked him out of the gate a few weeks ago, he was very sharp away from there, so I was pretty confident he’d be up closer than he had been in his previous races. He got me in a great position and he was in a nice rhythm. He was comfortable and happy and I loved my spot.
“Turning for home he gave me another gear and I kept him busy all the way to the wire because I wanted to make sure he got something out of it.”
The son of Street Sense came on the scene with a debut win at Churchill Downs and then picked up the Breeders’ Futurity (G1) at Keeneland on only his second start.
A minor foot injury forced him to miss the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile however, but he made it 3-3 when he returned from seven months off to win the Matt Winn Stakes (G3) at Churchill Downs back in May.
Another setback followed in June, this time a non-displaced condylar fracture to his right front cannon that forced him to sit out the big summer races.
Despite the issues, Walsh and Godolphin remained patient and, back in work since mid-October, plotted their path back to the racecourse.
With his Tenacious Stakes win in the books in impressive fashion, Maxfield now once more has a bright future ahead of him.
“All options are open,” Walsh said. “We will see how he comes out of the race, talk it over with the team at Godolphin and figure out the best plan going forward.”