Impressive Maxfield charges into Derby picture

Before he got hurt, Maxfield was supposed to be one of the favorites last fall for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. Those bottled-up expectations were finally uncorked Saturday. And he did not disappoint.

 

With his triumphant return as the 3-10 favorite in the Matt Winn Stakes at Churchill Downs, Maxfield affirmed the confidence that futures players have had in him for months.

 

But because of that betting exposure, William Hill Nevada cut his odds only from 11-1 to 10-1 to win the Kentucky Derby. Since Circa Sports just got into the futures business, it cut Maxfield from last week’s 22-1 opener to 19-2 — or + 950.

 

With a Beyer Speed Figure of 95 in only his third start, Maxfield is right about where a serious contender should be three months before running for the roses at Churchill Downs. Trainer Brendan Walsh has not committed him to a specific next race, though he has said he wanted to get his Street Sense colt into three 2020 preps before the Kentucky Derby. So if he stays on that timetable, maybe that means the Belmont Stakes on June 20.

 

If nothing else, the Godolphin homebred looked like he had come all the way back from ankle-chip surgery in November. There is no reason to believe his Derby odds will be getting longer anytime soon.

 

The same might not be said, though, for at least two other horses also in the consensus top five in futures betting.

 

New questions about medication hit trainer Bob Baffert on Tuesday. A number of reports said the Arkansas Racing Commission identified two preliminary drug tests that came back positive from Arkansas Derby day May 2 at Oaklawn Park.

 

Citing a knowledgeable source, the Louisville Courier-Journal said red flags came up on two of three Baffert horses. Of the three, Nadal (+ 340 at Circa, + 400 at William Hill) and Charlatan (+ 465, + 450) won the two divisions of the Arkansas Derby, and Gamine, his Kentucky Oaks contender, won an Oaklawn allowance race.

 

Baffert objected to preliminary test results being leaked before a split of the samples could be tested at a separate lab for a second opinion.

 

“The rules of the Arkansas Racing Commission mandate confidentiality until there is a written decision of the stewards,” Baffert said in a text to the media. “I am extremely disappointed that the commission has not followed its own rules on confidentiality. I am hoping for an expedited investigation and look forward to being able to speak soon about any written decision.”

 

Because it could be weeks before second opinions come back, any doubt about whether Charlatan or Nadal would be eligible for future races might not be addressed soon. Certainly not soon enough for horseplayers. That brings into immediate question the Belmont Stakes, for which Circa Sports has said it will post prices within a week.

 

The long-term questions about whether Baffert’s horses will remain eligible for the Derby may color the futures market in the coming days and weeks. Then again, it is 2020. Why wouldn’t we see another complication?

 

Derby futures: Who’s hot?

 

Cezanne (25-1 at Circa, unlisted at William Hill). Baffert has not said where he will debut this colt, which Irish giant Coolmore bought 15 months ago for $3.65 million. Asked this week if he had a race in mind, his text reply said, “Kentucky Derby.” Three of Cezanne’s last four workouts at 5 furlongs were sub-:60s. XBTV analyst Millie Ball told the “Thoroughbred L.A.” radio show last weekend “he couldn’t even have blown a candle out.” Believe it or not, speculation has circulated around Santa Anita that this Curlin colt out of a Bernardini mare could make his first start in the Belmont Stakes.

 

Pneumatic (50-1, 75-1). Relatively untested in winning his first two races, this Uncle Mo colt from Steve Asmussen’s stable carried high expectations into his stakes debut in the Matt Winn. He lived up to most of them, finding the lead in the second turn and competing all the way to the wire before finishing third as the 5-2 second choice. Ridden for the second time by Ricardo Santana Jr., he pressed the pace more than he did in his first two starts, a sign that he has some versatility. Pneumatic joins Basin (55-1, 20-1) and Silver Prospector (85-1, 50-1) as Asmussen’s most respected Derby candidates.

 

Art Collector (150-1, 125-1). It took a few days, but bookmakers and bettors are reacting to this Bernardini colt’s 2¾-length triumph May 17 in a sprint allowance at Churchill Downs. He had been on turf to begin his career, breaking his maiden in his second start. But a seventh-place finish in a Grade 2 race last fall at Keeneland led trainer Tom Drury to switch him to dirt. Art Collector’s most recent win came in his 3-year-old debut after a 5½-month break. He has not proven that he is more than a one-turn specialist, but that win was enough to merit his addition this week to the Circa futures.

 

Derby futures: Who’s not?

 

Ny Traffic (50-1, 60-1). Stalking a slow pace all the way around the track, he had the lead at the top of the stretch and was poised to finish first. Yes, that was in Saturday’s Matt Winn. But that first sentence could have been written about this Cross Traffic colt’s three races. After winning for new trainer Saffie Joseph Jr. in January, Ny Traffic has developed seconditis. Or worse. He finished third in the weaker division of the Risen Star and then, with blinkers added, placed second in the Louisiana Derby and the Matt Winn. Having four jockeys in as many races could have been a question of who was available during the pandemic. But that also might make bettors wonder if they were really getting value last week when Circa opened him at 125-1. (By the way, in spite of the lowercase “y” in his name, it really is pronounced “New York Traffic.”)

 

Attachment Rate (90-1, 100-1). He shortened from 100-1 at Circa and drifted from 75-1 at William Hill. Still just a maiden winner, this Hard Spun colt trained by Dale Romans looks competitive, but he is regressing. Since he won by 6¼ lengths in the Gulfstream Park slop in February, he has finished third in a Grade 3 mile, second in a black-type 8½-furlong race and fourth in the 8½-furlong Matt Winn. Switching from Luis Saez to jockey John Velazquez, he still had trouble switching leads in the stretch. Maybe he is a slow learner, or maybe he is better suited to shorter distances.

 

Major Fed (125-1, 100-1). Well, isn’t this a fickle page? Wasn’t this colt just among the “hot” last week? A last-place finish in the Matt Winn changed that, adding $40 to his odds at both Nevada sportsbooks. The Ghostzapper colt trained by Greg Foley has had legitimate excuses. He drew Post 12 on Saturday and never overcame it. A poor start in the Louisiana Derby, a wide trip in the Risen Star and even a bumpy trip in his maiden win in January have peppered his trip notes. Faith in Major Fed still represents value, but even if his bad luck finds some balance, he still has to prove he belongs in Derby company.

 

back to news

FREE Email Sign-Up

Get the latest sports betting news & VSiN programming updates with this free daily email from VSiN, The Sports Betting Network.

Headlines

View All
  • Lauri_Markanen

    Tuley's Takes Today: Tuesday recaps, Contest Corner, Wednesday play (12/1)

    As we were getting ready for the Tuesday night sports betting action to begin with the NBA, NHL and college basketball, all I could think of is that I...
  • baylor

    Early CFB Conference Championship Sharp Report

    Today bettors have a loaded Wednesday slate to choose from including 9 NBA games, 6 NHL games and 70 College Basketball games. For an updated breakdown...
  • reynolds

    Hero World Challenge best bets

    While the official PGA Tour season is on pause until January, an elite field of 20 players gathers this week for the Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas....
  • finocchiaro

    Best bets for Font-Aldo UFC card

    After a week off for Thanksgiving, the UFC heads into its last three productions of 2021 starting with Saturday’s UFC Fight Night from the Apex...
  • USATSI_17242641

    Peterson: Best bet for Nebraska vs. NC State

    The Big Ten/ACC Challenge will be decided on Wednesday and NC State will look to both help its profile, and also that of the ACC, as the Wolfpack...
  • vontobelnfl

    NFL Week 12 lessons learned

    It was an emotional week for me in the NFL, as the Indianapolis Colts’ failed cover cost me a share of the first-place prize in the Westgate SuperContest...
  • vontobelnba

    Three NBA trends to watch

    It was a somewhat quiet week in the NBA with the league taking a night off for Thanksgiving, but there is still plenty to discuss. This week we touch...
  • macneil

    Hockey bettors must beat closing line

    In the end, wins and losses are really all that matters, because every sports bettor’s goal is to make money. However, wins and losses don’t...
  • appelbaum

    Five NFL games wise guys like

    NFL underdogs continued to grind out a profit in Week 12, going 8-7 ATS. Dogs are now 101-77 ATS (57 percent) on the season. A $100 bettor taking every...
  • hill

    NFL capsules for Week 13

    Dallas Cowboys at New Orleans Saints The Dallas Cowboys (7-4 SU, 8-3 ATS) visit the New Orleans Saints (5-6 SU and ATS) on Thursday night as both...
  • moore

    Let's re-examine Gonzaga wagers

    Those predictions we heard about this college basketball season being filled with upsets and uncertainty? Well, they seem to be pretty accurate just a...
  • makinennfl

    Simulating rest of NFL season

    (To view the charts associated with this report, subscribe to Point Spread Weekly) All NFL teams have either five or six games left in their 2021-22...

custom-banner-3
VSiN Logo Plus

Free Trial

Make a risk-free bet on VSiN!

VSiN+ FREE TRIAL

  • Afternoon subscriber-only email with highlights and best bets from the day's programs
  • Point Spread Weekly, VSiN's digital magazine on sports betting
  • 24-7 Live video stream of VSiN programs plus replays
  • Any special sport-specified betting guides we do
  • All exclusive subscriber-only stories and data on VSiN.com
Sign Up Now
Google Play
App Store
Close