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Kentucky Derby Pedigree Profile: Maxfield

By J. Keeler Johnson

In a performance that brought to mind memories of Arazi’s victory in the 1991 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1), Maxfield unleashed a stellar, sweeping rally to crush nine rivals by 5 1/2 lengths in the $500,000 Breeders’ Futurity (G1) on October 5 at Keeneland.

A Godolphin homebred trained by Brendan Walsh, Maxfield has emerged as an exciting player on the Road to the Kentucky Derby, in part because he’s bred to relish running 1 1/4 miles on the first Saturday in May.

Maxfield’s sire, Street Sense, should be familiar even to casual racing fans. The first to turn the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile/Kentucky Derby (G1) double (2006-07), Street Sense has emerged as a productive sire of high-class runners over a variety of distances. Many have shown the brilliance needed to excel in sprints and miles, but Street Sense’s Grade 1-winning progeny in North America also include McKinzie (winner of the 1 1/8-mile Whitney Stakes) and Wedding Toast (victorious in the 1 1/8-mile Beldame Stakes). McKinzie is currently a leading contender for the 1 1/4-mile Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1).

The bottom half of Maxfield’s pedigree is even stronger. Although his dam, Velvety, was unremarkable as a racehorse, she did show the needed stamina to win her debut going a mile at Windsor. This is hardly surprising since Velvety is a daughter of 2006 Preakness Stakes (G1) champion Bernardini out of the Storm Cat mare Caress, a Grade 3 winner running 1 1/8 miles.

In addition to being a capable racehorse, Caress has been a productive broodmare. Aside from Velvety, her foals include 2002 Hopeful Stakes (G1) and Breeders’ Futurity (G2) winner Sky Mesa (now a successful sire) plus the two-time Grade 3 winner Golden Velvet, who most notably prevailed in the 1 1/8-mile Sixty Sails Handicap (G3).

As for Velvety’s sire, Bernardini, he has generally endowed his progeny with classic stamina. His most successful runners include Stay Thirsty and Alpha (both victorious in the 1 1/4-mile Travers Stakes [G1]), To Honor and Serve (winner of the 1 1/8-mile Woodward Stakes), and multiple Grade 1 victress Cavorting (who captured her only try at 1 1/8 miles in the Personal Ensign Stakes [G1]).

Bernardini has also been passing on stamina as a broodmare sire, with his daughters producing last year’s Travers Stakes winner Catholic Boy as well as reigning 1 1/8-mile Kentucky Oaks (G1) winner Serengeti Empress and 1 1/4-mile Alabama Stakes (G1) winner Dunbar Road.

With a double dose of classic stamina from both his sire and dam, Maxfield is one runner who shouldn’t have any trouble handling the challenging distance of the Kentucky Derby. “The longer the better” could well be Maxfield’s motto in 2020.

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