Maxfield will return to the site of two of his five victories in the $400,000 Alysheba Stakes Presented by Sentient Jet (G2) at Churchill Downs. The April 30 race is part of the 13-race card highlighted by the Longines Kentucky Oaks (G1).
Though his five rivals include three stakes winners and two stakes-placed runners, Maxfield, who drew post 6, will likely be favored. The 4-year-old colt was undefeated through his juvenile and sophomore seasons and won his 4-year-old debut as well, the Feb. 13 Mineshaft Stakes (G3) at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots.
Maxfield’s only loss came when he shipped to California for the 1 1/4-mile Santa Anita Handicap (G1) March 6. He ran third to Idol and Express Train as the 11-10 favorite while carrying top weight of 124 pounds.
Jose Ortiz, who rode Maxfield in his first three wins, will be reunited with the colt for the 1 1/16-mile Alysheba. Brendan Walsh trains the son of Street Sense —Velvety, by Bernardini , for owner/breeder Godolphin. Under the Alysheba’s allowance conditions, Maxfield will carry 120 pounds.
“The Santa Anita Handicap was a good test for him,” said Jimmy Bell, president of Godolphin USA. “It was a decent field. He just galloped over the racetrack and ran, and he gave the winner five pounds. He also raced wide. If not for the fact he was 5-for-5 you would say, ‘Man, he got beat a length-and-a-half. That was a good effort.’ But when you’re 5-for-5 and you lose that unbeaten record, people look at the race more closely. But I believe he’ll move forward off it.”
Chess Chief will carry top weight of 123 pounds in the Alysheba. Luis Saez will ride the 5-year-old son of Into Mischief —Un Blessed, by Mineshaft , from post 4. Dallas Stewart, who will also saddle Will’s Secret in the Kentucky Oaks, trains Chess Chief for the Estate of James Coleman Jr.
In his two starts this year, both at Fair Grounds, Chess Chief ran third in the Mineshaft behind Maxfield and Sonneman , and won the March 20 New Orleans Classic Stakes (G2). Chess Chief’s beaten foes in the 1 1/8-mile Classic included Sonneman and Roadster , both entered back in the Alysheba.
“This horse is a real nice horse and he’s doing good,” said Stewart. “Maxfield is a great horse, and there are a couple of really good horses in there that we beat. But I feel that we’re on our game, and he’s trained well here.”
Steve Asmussen, who has Pauline’s Pearl and Clairiere in the Oaks, trains Sonneman for Donald and Donna Adam’s Courtlandt Farms. Asmussen also conditions Super Stock and Midnight Bourbon , two hopefuls for the May 1 Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve (G1).
Sonneman is a 4-year-old son of Curlin , who won back-to-back Horse of the Year titles in 2007-08 under Asmussen’s tutelage. Ricardo Santana Jr. has the mount on Sonneman, who drew post 2. Sonneman has raced twice at Churchill, where he won an allowance race and ran second in last year’s Pat Day Mile Stakes Presented by LG and E and KU (G2).
Roadster won the 2019 Santa Anita Derby (G1) and has placed in five other stakes during his 12-race career. Irad Ortiz Jr. will ride the 5-year-old son of Quality Road from post 5. Bob Baffert trains Roadster for Peter Fluor and K.C. Weiner’s Speedway Stables. For the same connections, Baffert won the 2017 $1 million TVG Pacific Classic (G1) at Del Mar with Collected .
Bill Morey trains Visitant, a 5-year-old son of Ghostzapper , for the Williamson Racing stable of Henry Williamson. Visitant won the March 27 TwinSpires Kentucky Cup Classic Stakes at Turfway Park and the 2019 Alcatraz Stakes at Golden Gate Fields.
Dale Romans trains Attachment Rate for owners Jim Bakke and Gerald Isbister. A 4-year-old son of Hard Spun , Attachment Rate has placed in four stakes, most recently finishing third in the Commonwealth Stakes (G3) at Keeneland. He ran fourth behind Maxfield in the 2020 Matt Winn Stakes (G3) at Churchill.
Bob Ehalt contributed to this report.
Churchill Downs, Friday, April 30, 2021, Race 6
- Grade II
- 1 1/16m
- 4 yo’s & up
- 1:26 PM (local)