Retiring Righteous Resolve Seeks O'Brien Repeat

2023 O'Brien Awards - Roy Maxwell
Published: January 25, 2024 09:39 pm EST

Entering 2023 with high hopes off of a two-year-old campaign that saw her walk away an O’Brien Award winner for two-year-old trotting fillies in 2022, Righteous Resolve proved to be no one-hit wonder as she bids to add her second O’Brien Award trophy following her sophomore campaign. 

“There are certainly no complaints about the season she had,” said co-owner Roy Maxwell. “She came back great and did everything she was supposed to do and beyond.”

As a two-year-old, Righteous Resolve was nearly flawless in a season that saw her win eight consecutive races, which included the Ontario Sires Stakes Super Final, along with Grand Circuit victories in the Peaceful Way and Champlain Stakes. In all, Righteous Resolve’s lone defeats at two came in her career debut with a runner-up in an OSS Gold division, and in her season finale, a third-place finish behind Special Way in the 2022 Breeders Crown final. For the season, Righteous Resolve banked $623,704 on her way to winning O’Brien honours.

Righteous Resolve backed it up at age three, returning to the races in a season that saw the daughter of Resolve-Motown Muscle hit the board in 10 of 11 starts and bank $397,514 for trainer Matt Bax. With two-time O’Brien Award winner James MacDonald doing the driving for the entirety of the 2023 campaign, Righteous Resolve notched victories in two OSS Gold divisions, taking her lifetime mark of 1:52 at Woodbine Mohawk Park on Oct. 2.

Righteous Resolve took on North America’s best in 2023, scoring a victory in an elimination of the Elegantimage before narrowly missing by a head to eventual Dan Patch Award winner Bond in the $300,000 final. Close calls became a theme for Righteous Resolve over the course of the season, qualifying for the Hambletonian Oaks final at The Meadowlands and finishing a game third in a wild stretch drive won by the 28-1 upsetter, Heaven Hanover.

“Racing at The Meadowlands in the Hambletonian Oaks was the highlight for me.” Maxwell continued, “The early fractions in both her elimination and the final were pretty amazing, maybe if the fractions are a little different in the final there is a different result, but she got a good trip and raced great.”

Righteous Resolve’s time on the racetrack put her over the $1 million mark for her career, earning $1,021,218 over the course of 21 lifetime starts. With that, she enters 2024 in a new phase of her career as she has been retired from racing and will join the broodmare ranks this spring. 

“We had a few different options with her this winter,” recalled Maxwell. “We had some offers to buy her and decided you only get horses like this once in a lifetime and decided we wanted to keep her. From there, we decided it would be best to begin her career as a broodmare and we have a contract to breed to King Of The North this year.”

With a mare of her stature, Righteous Resolve certainly had right of first refusal to any stallion; however, the connections liked the idea of keeping the bloodline in the Ontario program.

“We’d kicked around the idea of stallions like Walner and options like that,” continued Maxwell. “With that said, we like Ontario and it’s a good fit for our smaller stable with the Sires Stakes program and breeders award program. A lot of things just fit in Ontario.”

King Of The North has certainly been popular as he heads into his second season of stud duty in Ontario, already with his book full and closed for 2024. Maxwell has two additional mares headed the Breeders Crown winner’s way as well in 2024, including the dam of Righteous Resolve, Motown Muscle, who has also produced the likes of Duly Resolve ($857,432, 1:53.4s) along with being an earner of over $450,000 on the racetrack in her own right.

“We have kind of changed our philosophy with our breeding heading into this year,” said Maxwell said. “We also wanted to get the Walner pedigree and felt King Of The North was the way to go to do so. He [King Of The North] may not have been the most consistent racehorse, but when he was right his talent was undisputed and the timing was right to make the move to him at stallion.”

As for what the connections hope Righteous Resolve will pass on to her offspring, there is certainly no shortage of traits to choose from.

“I would say at the top would be her gate speed.” Maxwell continued, “There aren’t many who could get off the gate like she could and make it look as easy as she did. You couldn’t get any better than her gait and her consistency too, she never made any mistakes out there and she had an incredible heart, that’s what I’ll remember most about her and hope she passes on.”

While Maxwell won’t make the trip to P.E.I, the nomination means even more to him as his horse partner of 37 years and the “Bet” part of Bet Max Stables, Bruce Tayler passed away at the end of 2023, not before getting to watch his champion trotting mare complete her career.

“Bruce still watched every start of hers on the TV and computer,” said Maxwell. “We would still call and talk after each of her races and discuss what we saw, he stayed involved and he appreciated that and I did too.”

The Bet Max Stable name will continue in honour of Tayler’s legacy and Righteous Resolve looks to carry on her legacy as a broodmare, providing Maxwell with a proud history and a foundation for the future.

“We’re very proud of how we’ve done things and how it’s developed,” said Maxwell. “Being able to keep what he have had going all these years, it’s something to feel good about.”

(Standardbred Canada; photos courtesy New Image Media)

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