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Saturday Stakes: Maxfield answers questions in the Matt Winn Stakes
SATURDAY, MAY 23, 2020
by: Rich Bieglmeier
Listen to our first episode of The Player's Edge for more detailed analysis and picks for the Matt Winn Stakes!
It wasn't supposed to be like this!
The first weekend of stakes racing at Churchill Downs is supposed to be filled with style, stars and celebrating the winner of the Kentucky Derby and Oaks. Instead, the stands will be free from pomp and people while horses run for a total of 85 Kentucky Derby qualifying points in the Grade III, Matt Winn Stakes.
He who wears the Matt Winn crown will earn 50 points and most likely a spot in the September 5th version of the run for the roses. Twenty for second won't be enough to make fall plans for Churchill on the first Saturday of September; unless, the place horse already has close to 20 points in the bank.
The points and the Matt Winn Trophy are all about MAXFIELD (PP: 10 ML 5/2) and if the son of STREET SENSE is ready to return to the track? He hasn't raced since smashing a field of 10 by 5 1/2 lengths in the Grade I, Breeders' Futurity at Keeneland. If his workouts are any indication of how he's going to run in his three-year-old debut, then MAXFIELD should overpower this group.
Maxfield winning at Keeneland
Readiness is the question many horseplayers have for MAXFIELD. The reality is that every other horse in the field has question marks, most of which are significantly bigger than MAXFIELD's ability.
PNUEMATIC (PP: 2 ML 4-1) is tied for the oddsmaker's second choice. Trainer Steve Asmussen's understudy is undefeated in two starts, both at Oaklawn Park. Being lightly raced, he has an opportunity to continue his improvement in his third career start. However, he is stepping up the competition scale and will have to prove he can be a headliner on the main stage. Asmussen is no stranger to the big time but, surprisingly, he only wins at 16% at the graded stakes level.
ATTACHMENT RATE (PP: 11 ML 4-1) is the other second choice. His only win came on a sloppy track where he ran away from the pack by 6 1/4 lengths. It's supposed to rain on Saturday; so, he might get another chance to run on a wet track. Wet track or not, he's making his second start after a layoff and he ran his best 6 furlong fraction despite racing at his longest distance to date. It looks even better when you consider he was bumped at the start. Normally, faster times are a good omen for the next race. Outside of the slop, he hasn't been able to beat better company, something he'll need to do today.
MAJOR FED (PP: 12 ML 5-1) is the last horse with morning line odds under double-digits. He's been a top contender in the two races when he's had a n excuse free trip. Meanwhile, he was well beaten in the two starts with some adversity. With the outside post, a mid-pack running style and a 12-horse field, more trouble isn't out of the question. If jockey Joel Rosario can steer him to a trouble free trip, he has a shot.
The beautiful NY Traffic
NY TRAFFIC (PP: 6 ML 10-1) almost pulled off the upset in the Grade II, Louisiana Derby, finishing second behind WELLS BAYOU. However, the place showing doesn't look as good after WELLS BAYOU failed to hit the board in his next start. He'll be close to the lead as CELTIC STRIKER (PP: 4 ML 20-1) is the only other consistent frontrunner. Speed is the preferred running style at the distance in the early part of the current meet. He'll need to be on/near the lead with modest fractions to have a chance; otherwise, he's likely to fade near the wire.
Our handicapper believes MAXFIELD will put all the questions to rest. Here's how we see the race in our Matt Winn Wagering Guide.
The Play: Many felt MAXFIELD was one of the top three-year-olds in the land. We'll find out today. MAJOR FED has improved in each of his four starts. He'll be a top contender if the trend continues. PNEUMATIC is yet to lose in two races. He'll need to bring the same form as he moves up the class ladder. NY TRAFFIC or ATTACHMENT RATE, a tough call. We lean towards NY TRAFFIC as he'll be close to the lead in a race that could be run at a modest early pace.
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Good luck at the races!
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