Godolphin's Maxfield is in the running for the Kentucky Derby
Godolphin's Maxfield is out of the Kentucky Derby Image Credit: USA Today

Team Godolphin’s hopes of winning a first Kentucky Derby have suffered a huge blow with principal contender Maxfield set to miss the American Classic due to injury.

An impressive winner of the Group 3 Matt Winn Stakes at Churchill Downs on May 23, the Street Sense colt suffered a non-displaced condylar fracture on Wednesday morning at Keeneland in Kentucky.

Jimmy Bell, head of Godolphin’s US operations, said Maxfield will undergo surgery on Saturday to repair the injury in his right-front leg and as a result miss the 2020 Kentucky Derby on September 4.

Maxfield triumphed at Churchill Downs.

“He went a maintenance half-mile this morning,” Bell said. “It was as nice as you’d want to see. We were on hand to watch.

“When he turned back to jog home, he was off. We got him back to the barn and took X-rays.”

However, Bell said that the injury is not life or career threatening and that Maxfield should be able to race again once the injury has healed.

It takes an average six to eight weeks for horses to recover from this sort of injury and subsequent surgery.

“This was very clean,” Bell said. “It was non-displaced, so it’s fortuitous if you want to look at it that way.

“It looks like a straightforward procedure. We’ll always have a discussion, but certainly racing is still in the game plan.”

When His Highness Shaikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, created Godolphin in 1992, one of the stable’s primary objectives was to win the world’s major contests — the Epsom Derby, Kentucky Derby, Prix de l’Arc d’Triomphe and Melbourne Cup, races that stood at the sport’s summit.

They have since won all but one of these showpiece races with the Kentucky Derby standing as the final frontier.

This is not the first injury that Maxfield, who is trained by former Dubai-based Brendan Walsh, has incurred in his career.

An ankle chip also requiring minor surgery left Maxfield out of the 2019 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile.

Godolphin are hopeful that the horse could recover in time to contest the final leg of the Triple Crown series, the Preakness Stakes on October.

Following his Matt Win victory, Godolphin had decided to bypass the June 20 Belmont Stakes, the first leg of the Triple Crown, and instead tread carefully towards the Derby by staying at their home base in Keeneland for the July 11 Blue Grass Stakes (G2).

“Sometimes all you’re hoping for is not having any bad luck,” Bell said, “and we just got a little unlucky here.”