Clark Stakes (Grade 1)
THERE were three Grade 1 races over the weekend in the USA and the feature was the all-aged Clark Stakes at Churchill Downs last Friday.
The nine-furlong contest drew a good field and it was the Brendan Walsh-trained, Godolphin’s homebred Maxfield who ended his 11-race career with a half-length win over Happy Saver and the favourite, the three-year-old Midnight Bourbon three lengths back in third.
Maxfield now retires and joins the stallion ranks at Darley at Jonabell Farm for 2022.
It was the second Grade 1 for the four-year-old son of Street Sense after winning the 2019 Grade 1 Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity at Keeneland at two.
With not much speed in the Clark apart from Midnight Bourbon, Maxfield, and jockey Jose Ortiz, grabbed a spot behind the pacesetter.
Midnight Bourbon set a comfortable pace with fractions of 23.83secs and 48secs. Maxfield always had him in his sights and took it up early in the stretch. With about half a furlong to go, Happy Saver emerged with a strong challenge but Maxfield responded and scored by half a length in 1m 49.06secs.
“I knew I put Midnight Bourbon away and he gave me another gear when he saw Happy Saver coming,” Ortiz said.
It was Maxfield’s eighth victory with two seconds and a third in his 11-race career with earnings of just over $2 million.
“I’m just delighted he got the job done and went out on a winning note,” the trainer said. “This is a very prestigious race. And it was nice that he could win it and hopefully he can go on to have a great stud career.
“But he’s just been an unbelievable horse. He’s come back from an injury. He’s helped me get out of bed in the mornings in the last two years, and it’ll be hard to find another one like him.”
Maxfield missed both the 2019 TVG Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and the 2020 Kentucky Derby due to injuries.
Michael Banahan, Godolphin USA’s director of bloodstock said: “A great result for Brendan and his team, who have nursed the horse through some ups and downs over the last years.”
More Matriarch Glory for Brown
THERE were two Grade 1s on turf over the weekend on the west coast and on Sunday at Del Mar trainer Chad Brown won his fourth Grade 1 Matriarch Stakes in the last five years.
In the colours of Peter Brant, the five-year-old Animal Kingdom mare Regal Glory made all the running under jockey Jose Ortiz and none of the other five got in a blow as she came home two and a half lengths clear of the Irish-bred Zofelle and the favourite Princess Grace. Viadera, last year’s winner, was fourth,
Brant had paid $925,000 to get Regal Glory early this year at the Keeneland January Horses of All Ages Sale from the estate of Paul P. Pompa Jnr who died last year. She had also been trained by Chad Brown for Pompa.
With none of the six front runners, Jose Ortiz let Regal Glory head to the front. That allowed Regal Glory to go the first quarter-mile in 24.06secs and a half-mile in 48.50secs.
Turning for home, Kent Desormeaux tried to rally Princess Grace but Regal Glory had plenty left and won unchallenged.
“We got away with some easy fractions, and then she had lots for the finish,” Ortiz said.
The Grade 1 Hollywood Derby produced a fittingly named winner as jockey Kent Desormeaux, back in favour this season, steered home Beyond Brilliant in an all-the-way, rail-skimming ride.
The son of Twirling Candy grabbed the lead at the start and never looked back, just holding on by a neck victory from Godolphin’s Santin in the nine-furlong three-year-old contest. Favourite Public Sector was fourth.
After spending his first seven starts, two of which he won, in allowance and maiden races on turf and dirt for trainer John Shirreffs, Beyond Brilliant was third last time out in the Santa Anita Grade 2 Twilight Derby on his stakes race debut.
“The (credit) goes to the barn because it’s beyond brilliant what they’ve done to him in the last month,” Desormeaux said.
“In his last start, I had my hands full and tried to manhandle him and coax him back and it didn’t work as well. But today he was very content, very happy. He showed that he can sprint if he’s allowed to have it his own way and he had it his today and his mind was right.”
In a field of 14, Beyond Brilliant and Desormeaux led by a lengths and a half after a half-mile in 49.23secs, and still led as challenges came on the final turn.
It was the last to challenge Santin who made up nearly four lengths in that last furlong, but fell just short of adding to a memorable weekend for Brendan Walsh. Beyond Brilliant covered the nine furlongs in 1m 48.84secs.
It was a first Grade 1 for Desormeaux since 2019. He had failed to win a graded stakes race in 2020 and the first seven months of 2021,
“It’s a tremendous amount of support, even more than you imagine because of social media,” said the 51-year-old, with 49 wins this year, his biggest total since 2018.
“Kent and I go back a very, very long way and we’ve had our ups and downs but I’m so happy that Kent’s riding so great and very thankful he did it for us today,” John Shirreffs added.