Bloodlines: Timing Benefits Classic Hopeful Maxfield And His Sire Line

It’s an ill pandemic that spreads no good. Had the Kentucky Derby gone off on its appointed hour this year, one of the certain absentees would have been the unbeaten Maxfield (by Street Sense), who won the Grade 1 Breeders’ Futurity last October at Keeneland in the style of a serious contender for divisional honors.

An ankle issue put the dark brown colt out of action for months, however, and he returned to the races in the G3 Matt Winn Stakes at Churchill Downs on May 23, nearly eight months after his portentous victory in the main event for juvenile colts at Keeneland.

Now Maxfield is unbeaten in three starts, with a wide move on the turn and power through the stretch at Churchill that carried the colt to victory.

And just like that, we have another classic contender for the first jewel of the 2020 Triple Crown, the Belmont Stakes at nine furlongs. Everything else is upside down and backwards this year; so why shouldn’t the Belmont be the first race for the Triple Crown, scheduled for June 20. And nine furlongs?

Twice before, more than a century ago, the Belmont Stakes had been raced at nine furlongs. In 1893, Empire Stable’s California-bred Comanche (Sir Modred) won the first nine-furlong Belmont Stakes, and the following year, August Belmont II’s Henry of Navarre (Knight of Ellerslie) won the Belmont Stakes. At the time, the race was run at Morris Park, then was transferred to Belmont Park in 1905.

In the intervening 125 years, the Belmont Stakes was raced at 10, 11, and 12 furlongs. The race has been run at 12 furlongs continuously from 1926 to 2019. Man o’ War’s son Crusader won the first 12-furlong Belmont; the previous year, Man o’ War’s son American Flag won the last 11-furlong Belmont, and he appears multiple times in the pedigree of Matt Winn winner Maxfield.

Bred in Kentucky by Godolphin, Maxfield is out of the Bernardini mare Velvety, a half-sister to Grade 1 winner and sire Sky Mesa (Pulpit). The tall, dark, and handsome colt traces in the female line to the outstanding broodmare Busanda (War Admiral), who was the dam of Horse of the Year Buckpasser (Tom Fool) and Futurity winner Bupers (Double Jay), and thence to her grandam, the epochal La Troienne (Teddy).

Bred in the blue, Maxfield is one of seven Northern Hemisphere Grade 1 winners by his sire Street Sense (Street Cry), winner of the 2007 Kentucky Derby and the horse who busted the phony Breeders’ Cup Juvenile jinx to small bits with his success in the Kentucky classic.

The other Grade 1-winning son of Street Sense in America is McKinzie, who has won four such: the Whitney Stakes, Pennsylvania Derby, Malibu, and Los Alamitos Futurity, in addition to seconds in the Breeders’ Cup Classic and Metropolitan Handicap. The 5-year-old McKinzie is expected to race next in the Metropolitan Handicap.

Their sire is the 16-year-old star of Street Cry’s first crop, which Street Sense led at two as champion juvenile colt and at three as a classic winner. Thereafter, crop-mate Zenyatta picked up the baton for Street Cry and kept the bulky bay son of Machiavellian near the top of the sire lists in further seasons.

Zenyatta, like Winx, Grade 1 winner Street Boss, and others, showed much improvement with maturity, like their sire. Street Sense was an exception only in the sense that he was so good at two, then improved the next season. The 3-year-old season for Street Sense was marred only because of the appearance of the rapidly improving Curlin, who finished third in the Kentucky Derby, then won the Preakness at the direct expense of Street Sense. The latter regrouped and won the Jim Dandy and Travers, while Curlin won the Jockey Club Gold Cup. The pair met again in the Breeders’ Cup Classic at Monmouth, and in the slop, Curlin powered away from his competition to win the divisional title and Horse of the Year.

After that, Street Sense retired to stud at Darley in a power pack of entering sires that included Grade 1 winner Hard Spun (Danzig), who also had been second in the Kentucky Derby and the Breeders’ Cup Classic, and Haskell winner Any Given Saturday (Distorted Humor).

Last year, Hard Spun ranked sixth among North American sires after Spun to Run won the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile, and Street Sense ranked ninth with McKinzie as his leading earner. In the peculiarly truncated racing season of 2020, both rank in the top 20 but are sure to have more results in the coming weeks.

And it would be a wry twist of fate if the virally distorted racing calendar of 2020 allowed a son of Street Sense to win a classic after the colt’s hopes for the BC Juvenile last season were dashed by an injury that kept Maxfield off the track until now.

The post Bloodlines: Timing Benefits Classic Hopeful Maxfield And His Sire Line appeared first on Horse Racing News | Paulick Report.

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