Maxfield ‘Starting To Step Up’ His Training; May Skip Derby, Point To Preakness

Godolphin’s undefeated homebred Maxfield, unraced since taking the Breeders’ Futurity (G1) in his second career start Oct. 6, turned in a sharp half-mile breeze Sunday as he continues to work toward his 3-year-old debut.

It was the third work since mid-February for Maxfield, all over the main track at Palm Meadows, Gulfstream Park’s satellite training facility in Palm Beach County.

“He worked really well,” trainer Brendan Walsh said. “He worked a half in 49 and went out five-eighths and three-quarters and went out good, so he’s starting to step up a little bit now. The next work or two we’ll have a good idea of where we’re going to go with him, but he’s doing good.”

Maxfield was scratched from a planned start in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) Nov. 1 with a minor foot bruise discovered after training three days before the race. He returned to the work tab Feb. 17, going three furlongs in 38.20 seconds, then went a half in 51.20 Feb. 24.

“We have to see with him because it’ll be a question of, do we take a shot at one of the Derby trials if he’s doing real good or just try to find something a little softer for him off the layoff?” Walsh said. “That’s just the way it is. We’re still not quite decided on it and it’s going to be him that makes the decision for us, really. But, I wouldn’t rule anything in or out.”

Walsh doubted there would be time to make the $1 million Curlin Florida Derby (G1) March 28 at Gulfstream, contested at 1 1/8 miles, and said skipping the first leg of the Triple Crown in favor of the Preakness Stakes (G1) May 16 at Pimlico Race Course is also on the table.

“I don’t know if we’d throw him to the wolves off the layoff in something like the Florida Derby. That’s probably unlikely, but I’m saying that like there’s any really softer spots. When you get that close to the [Kentucky] Derby, everybody’s trying to go at it so no matter where you go you’re going to come up against some good ones,” Walsh said. “We’re kind of watching what’s going on with everybody else, too.

“The other thing would be to come back maybe somewhere around Keeneland and run him in the Preakness. That might be the other option,” he added. “It doesn’t matter where he comes back, he’s going to be a good horse this year. It’s just a question about what the timing allows us to do. We’d all love to win the Derby, but on the same point I’m not going to sacrifice a horse like him just for it.”

Walsh said that Vitalogy, scratched by veterinarians from a scheduled run in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf, exited his comeback victory in Saturday’s $150,000 Palm Beach (G3) in good order.

“Everything’s good with him this morning. We’re happy with him,” Walsh said. “It was a good spot for him to come back in. He ran a hell of a race and I think he’ll improve a lot for it, too, because we had just enough work in him.”

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