Dozen In Search Of Derby Points
Undefeated Grade I winner Maxfield (pictured) is set to face 11 rivals, including Risen Star runner-up Major Fed and Louisiana Derby runner-up Ny Traffic, in Saturday’s $150,000 Matt Winn presented by Woodford Reserve (GIII) – one of five stakes races on the 11-race program at Churchill Downs.
The 1 1/16-mile Matt Winn will award the top four finishers 50-20-10-5 points on the extended Road to the Kentucky Derby series.
The Matt Winn is the featured race on Saturday’s program that has been dubbed “Stephen Foster Preview Day” and features four additional stakes events: the $100,000 Shawnee (Race 7), $100,000 Tepin (Race 8), $100,000 Blame (Race 9) and $100,000 War Chant (Race 11). First post is 1:00 (all times ET) and the Matt Winn is slated at 5:44.
The card includes a trio of Pick 4 and Pick 5 wagers along with the 20-cent Single 6 Jackpot. The late Pick 5 and Pick 4 will feature an all-stakes sequence. Free Brisnet past performances and additional handicapping information will be available at www.churchilldowns.com/handicapping.
Maxfield, a 3-year-old homebred colt by Street Sense, has been on the sidelines since his 5 1/2-length score in the Breeders’ Futurity in early October. Trained by Brendan Walsh, Maxfield was one of the likely favorites for the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile but was forced to scratch because of a minor issue in his right front leg.
“The biggest difference we have all noticed with him from last year to this year has been his physicality,” Walsh said. “We never really questioned what he was like mentally, but you can tell when we got him back to training he’s really filled out physically.”
Jose Ortiz, who has worked Maxfield at Keeneland prior to the Matt Winn, will be in the saddle on Saturday.
“Jose worked him from the gate two works ago, and he broke very sharply,” Walsh said. “We never really expected to have those gate issues last year, but I’m hoping those are behind him now.”
Chief among Maxfield’s competition in the Matt Winn is Risen Star runner-up and Louisiana Derby fourth-place finisher Major Fed. Trained by Greg Foley and ridden by Joel Rosario, Major Fed drew post 12 in the Matt Winn.
“Hopefully we will finally get lucky with a good trip,” Foley said. “He ran two really hard races in the Risen Star and the Louisiana Derby. We just got a little bit unlucky with our trips.”
Also entered in the Matt Winn is Louisiana Derby runner-up Ny Traffic. Trained by Florida-based horseman Saffie Joseph Jr., Ny Traffic has dueled with fellow Matt Winn entrant Major Fed in their last two encounters. Major Fed got the better of Ny Traffic by a neck in the Risen Star, but in the Louisiana Derby, Ny Traffic beat Major Fed by 3 ¼ lengths. Paco Lopez has the call on Ny Traffic from post 6.
Other top competitors that entered the Matt Winn include undefeated Pneumatic; Unbridled Stakes runner-up Attachment Rate; and impressive Fair Grounds maiden winner Mystic Guide.
The full field for the Matt Winn from the rail out (with jockey and trainer): Mystic Guide (Brian Hernandez Jr., Mike Stidham); Pneumatic (Ricardo Santana Jr., Steve Asmussen); Informative (John Bisono, Uriah St. Lewis); Celtic Striker (Manny Franco, Ray Handal); Flap Jack (Rafael Bejarano, Jack Sisterson); Ny Traffic (Lopez, Joseph); Necker Island (Tyler Gaffalione, Stanley Hough); Crypto Cash (Corey Lanerie, Kenny McPeek); Shake Some Action (Javier Castellano, Brad Cox); Maxfield (Ortiz, Walsh); Attachment Rate (John Velazquez, Dale Romans); and Major Fed (Rosario, Foley).
Saturday’s National Weather Service forecast calls for partly sunny skies with a high of 84 degrees.