Maxfield, Attachment Rate Hope Matt Winn Stakes Helps Them Catch Up on the Road to the Kentucky Derby

Posted on: May 23, 2020, 10:35h. 

Last updated on: May 23, 2020, 06:22h.

This year’s Road to the Kentucky Derby hit a speed bump because of COVID-19. But the four-month delay in the race now gives some promising horses a chance to catch up and earn a spot in the Sept. 5 race. A couple of those horses will be on display Saturday at Churchill Downs in Louisville, when the home of the Derby runs the Grade III Matt Winn Stakes.

Kentucky Derby Churchill Downs
Maxfield, seen here winning the Breeders’ Futurity last year at Keeneland, makes his 3-year-old debut Saturday in the Matt Winn Stakes, a Kentucky Derby prep race at Churchill Downs. (Image: Eclipse Sportswire)

The 1-1/16th-mile race was added as a Derby prep race after Churchill Downs officials pushed the Derby back four months. The winner Saturday will get 50 qualifying points toward the Run for the Roses.

The race features a field of 10, led by morning-line favorite Maxfield, who is making his 3-year-old debut.

Post time for the race is 5:44 p.m. ET.

Injury, COVID Derailed Maxfield

Maxfield got off to a strong start last fall, winning his first two starts. His second was the Grade I Breeders’ Futurity at Keeneland last October. However, an ankle injury kept him from racing the next month in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, and kept him out of racing for a few months.

Then, the COVID-19 crisis hit, further altering his comeback schedule. However, trainer Brendan Walsh thinks it may work out well for his colt.

It would’ve been a little bit unorthodox if we were still prepping for the Derby” on its traditional the first Saturday in May date, Walsh said. “We were still going to target the Derby, but we would’ve only had one race to get him qualified. Now, we have a couple of races that we can get him ready for the race in September.”

Jose Ortiz gets the mount on Maxfield, who starts off with morning-line odds of 5-2.

“Later Developing Colt” Gives Romans Second Derby Chance

Earlier this year, trainer Dale Romans thought he had a 2020 Kentucky Derby contender in Dennis’ Moment, a colt who had his moments as a 2-year-old. However, when Romans entered his horse in the Fountain of Youth Stakes nearly three months ago, the horse failed to deliver. He went off as the favorite, ran listless, and finished last.

That horse may be off the Derby trail now. But Romans has another chance to make it into the biggest race at his hometown track.

Attachment Rate has raced four times this year and finished in the money in each. That includes a third place finish in the Grade III Gotham Stakes.

“He’s been a later-developing colt,” Romans said. “He’s run four solid races, including third in the Gotham and second in the Unbridled. Really, his only bad race was in his debut at Churchill last June. We brought him back in Florida this winter and we thought we had something when he finished a fast-closing second at 50-1 in a maiden race.”

Attachment Rate, who has morning line odds of 4-1, will have a jockey change, as John Velazquez gets the mount Saturday. Luis Saez had ridden him previously, but is finally serving a 15-day suspension handed down by Kentucky officials for his ride on Maximum Security in last year’s Kentucky Derby. Maximum Security was first under the wire, but was disqualified after stewards ruled the horse interfered with others late in the race.

Other top contenders Saturday include Major Fed (5-1), who has a win and a second in three starts this year. In his last race, the Grade II Louisiana Derby, the Greg Foley-trained colt broke abysmally, but rallied to finish fourth under jockey Joel Rosario. Pneumatic (4-1), trained by Steve Asmussen and ridden by Ricardo Santana Jr., has two wins in his first two races and makes his graded stakes debut.