Maxfield put on another dominating performance to win the G2 Stephen Foster and remained undefeated at Churchill Downs. On June 5 Godolphin’s Adayar captured the Cazoo Derby (G1) at Epson and the Belmont Stakes Presented by NYRA Bets (G1) with Essential Quality . Three weeks later on June 26, the operation pulled off another major stakes double, capturing the Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby (G1) at The Curragh with Hurricane Lane and the $600,000 Stephen Foster Stakes (G2) at Churchill Downs with Maxfield.
With Jose Ortiz riding, Maxfield took the lead off the final turn and cruised to a 3 1/4-length victory over Warrior’s Charge in Saturday’s $600,000, Grade 2 Stephen Foster on closing day of Churchill’ Spring Meet. Maxfield covered the 1 1/8 miles in 1:48.53 and paid $2.80 as the 2-5 favorite.
Maxfield raced from off the pace in the Stephen Foster, though he was always within striking range. Sixth for the first half-mile of the race as Empty Tomb set the pace in the 1 1/8-mile race with fractions of :23.33 and :46.88, Maxfield crept up to fifth after Sprawl took command with three-quarters in 1:10.70.
The Stephen Foster was a “Win and You’re In” qualifier for the Breeders’ Cup Classic on Nov. 6 at Del Mar. Maxfield could return next in the $1 million, Grade 1 Whitney on Aug. 7 at Saratoga
Trainer Brenden Walsh was gratified by Maxfield’s perfomance
“I just sort of had to stay out of his way,” said 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.” Trainer Brenden Walsh was gratified by Maxfield’s turn in the Stephen Foster. “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.”
Stephen Foster History
The Stephen Foster Handicap was inaugurated in 19 June 1982 as the Stephen Foster Handicap and has progressed from Grade III status in 1988 to Grade II in 1995 to Grade I in 2002. In 2019, it was downgraded to Grade II. Currently offering a purse of $500,000, the race draws some of the top older horses from various parts of the United States. Since 2015 the event is a Breeders’ Cup Challenge “Win and You’re In” event, offering the winner an automatic berth in the Breeders’ Cup Classic.
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