Kentucky-bred Maxfield, a leading top older horse in North America, brought the curtain down on his sensational racing career on Friday, Nov. 26, sweeping to a determined victory in the $750,000 Clark Handicap (G1) at Churchill Downs in the final start of his career before becoming a stallion at Jonabell Farm.
The Godolphin homebred, now four, was ridden to victory by Jose Ortiz for trainer Brendan Walsh. Breaking from the far outside in the field of eight, Maxfield settled nicely off the pace set by race favorite Midnight Bourbon. Leaving the far turn, Maxfield drew on even terms with the pacesetter before putting away Midnight Bourbon and holding a late rally by Happy Saver at bay to win. He covered the 1 1/8 miles over a track labeled good in 1:49.06, becoming the first horse to sweep Churchill Downs’ Alysheba, Stephen Foster, and Clark in a calendar year.
“I could tell Happy Saver would be coming around the far turn and Maxfield felt him come alongside as well,” said Jose Ortiz. “He was able to dig down and really fight hard today. Hats off to Brendan and his team who have done an amazing job with him throughout his career. I’m very happy he gets to go out this way.”
Maxfield retires with a record of 8-2-1 in 11 starts. All told, he earned $2,001,812 and is a perfect 5-for-5 at Churchill Downs. The victory marked the seventh career stakes win for Maxfield and second Grade 1. At two, he captured the $500,000 Breeders’ Futurity (G1) at Keeneland. The son of Street Sense out of the Bernardini mare Velvety will stand his initial season at stud for $40,000.
“I feel just delighted he got the job done like that today,” Brendan Walsh said. “It’s a very prestigious race and it’s very nice he could win it and go into his stud career like that.
“He’s an unbelievable horse,” Walsh continued. “I can’t say enough about him. Today, he had to fight hard to get the job done and he ran great to hold off Happy Saver.”