Another Contender Drops Out as Fracture Forces Maxfield from 2020 Kentucky Derby Campaign

Posted on: June 10, 2020, 11:37h. 

Last updated on: June 11, 2020, 08:37h.

The Road to the Kentucky Derby continues to be a bumpy one for the 2020 class of 3-year-olds, as two more horses saw their campaigns end on Wednesday morning.

Maxfield Kentucky Derby
Kentucky Derby contender Maxfield, seen here winning the Matt Winn Stakes at Churchill Downs last month, saw his 2020 season end Wednesday because of a leg fracture. He’s expected to race again next year. (Image: Godolphin/Coady Photography)

It started when Godolphin, the owner of Maxfield, announced their colt suffered a non-displaced fracture in his right front leg. The injury was discovered after a half-mile workout earlier in the day at Keeneland Race Course in Lexington.

While it sidelines him for the Sept. 5 Derby, the injury is neither life- nor career-threatening.

This is a very disappointing event, obviously, but we are certainly grateful that Maxfield’s injury wasn’t worse and we look forward to seeing him return to the races next year,” Godolphin president Jimmy Bell said in a release.

The injury came as the colt was preparing to race in next month’s Grade II Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland. Maxfield, who has won all three of his races in his young career, made his 2020 debut on May 23 with a resounding performance in the Grade III Matt Winn Stakes at Churchill Downs.

After hanging back for most of the race in eighth place, Maxfield, with Jose Oritz aboard, made his move in the final turn. Despite having to go wide down the stretch, he was able to chase down the leaders to win by a length.

It was a performance that drew interest from plenty of Derby handicappers. Before news of his injury, Circa Sports listed the Brendan Walsh-trained colt at +600, one of the top choices on its Derby futures board.

Bruises Force Wells Bayou Out

Shortly after Maxfield’s injury became public, the Daily Racing Form reported that Grade II Louisiana Derby winner Wells Bayou would miss the Kentucky Derby because of bone bruising.

With three wins in six career starts, Wells Bayou wasn’t considered a top-shelf candidate in the Run for the Roses. But his win at Fair Grounds Race Course in New Orleans on March 21 gave him 100 points, more than enough to make it to the field had he stayed healthy.

Those two are just the latest injuries to beset horses that had qualified for the Derby. Last month, Nadal, the Bob Baffert-trained horse who won the second division of the Grade I Arkansas Derby last month, suffered a career-ending injury while training at Santa Anita.

Then this past weekend, Baffert announced that Charlatan, who won the first division of the Arkansas Derby, would also miss the Louisville race because of an ankle injury. His status was already in question after reports indicated he failed a drug test.

Tiz the Law Still the Favorite

Tiz the Law was already the favorite on the Derby futures odds board, and Wednesday’s news only strengthen his position at the top.

At Circa Sports, the Barclay Tagg-trained colt with four wins in five starts saw his odds drop from +400 to +325.

Behind him are Honor A.P., who won Saturday’s Grade I Santa Anita Derby, and Authentic, another Baffert horse who finished second in Saturday’s prep race. Both horses are listed at +500.

The only other horse with odds under +1000 on the Circa futures board is Sole Volante at +950. The graded stakes winner won an allowance race Wednesday at Gulfstream in Florida, with trainer Patrick Biancone using it as a possible tune-up for the June 20 Grade I Belmont Stakes.

On Wednesday, he rallied from being last and nine-lengths back after the first quarter-mile to take the lead in the final strides and win for the fourth time in six starts.

After the race, Biancone said a decision on the Belmont will come in the coming days.

“My owner is very keen on running in the Belmont,” he said. “We’ll have to wait for the horse to decide. We’ll see how he is in the next few days. If he really comes up, we may go. If not, we’ll wait for the Blue Grass. One or the other.”