One 'Righteous' O'Brien Award Finalist

Roy Maxwell and Righteous Resolve
Published: February 3, 2023 12:59 am EST

The story of Righteous Resolve started more than a quarter century ago in Michigan, with a powerhouse performer that kicked off three generations of stakes winners for Roy Maxwell.

In 1994, a yearling filly by the name of Bankers Jackpot sold for $12,500 at the Michigan Classic Yearling Sale. Bankers Jackpot was from the first crop of Michigan sire Wall Street Banker. A foal of 1988, Wall Street Banker took a mark at three of 1:57.4, posted a 10-2-4 summary from his 33 lifetime starts and boasted a bankroll with earnings in excess of $322,000. All of these accomplishments were respectable, but breeders were more interested in his pedigree.

Wall Street Banker was a son of Baltic Speed - Valley Victoria, making him a full brother to the hottest commodity in harness racing at the time: the now legendary Valley Victory.

Bankers Jackpot's dam, J J Adele, had produced nothing notable by the time the yearling entered the sales ring. In fact, Bankers Jackpot was her last foal. As it turned out, that cross and that name couldn't have been scripted any better by Hollywood talent.

While racing almost exclusively on the Michigan fair circuit, Bankers Jackpot carved out a solid niche as a two- and three-year-old that boasted a seven-race win streak at two and a 16-race win streak that spanned her rookie and sophomore seasons.

She did try Grand Circuit competition as a two-year-old, venturing to Sportsman's Park in Chicago for a division of the American National. There were two divisions for two-year-old trotting fillies, and she was favoured in hers but made a miscue early and wasn't a factor. For reference, the favourite in the other division was a filly that went on to beat the boys in the 1996 Hambletonian — Continentalvictory, a daughter of (you guessed it) Valley Victory.

Bankers Jackpot retired with an impressive summary of 25-3-3 from 36 career starts with more than $167,000 in earnings. Her owners, Bet Max Stables and Benenati Inc. of Michigan, bred her to a range of stallions from various jurisdictions but her greatest success came from two matings to Ontario sires. Porsche Hall, a daughter of Angus Hall, banked more than $640,000 racing predominantly in Ontario before being exported to Sweden. Bankers Jackpot's last foal was a Muscle Mass filly named Motown Muscle.

While Porsche Hall had the misfortune of being born the same year as Pure Ivory, Motown Muscle also had a world class superstar in her division -- 2013 Canadian and U.S. Horse of the Year Bee A Magician. Having said that, Motown Muscle posted a 9-5-6 summary from 30 career outings and banked a very respectable $460,000 for breeders and owners Bet Max Stables and Benenati Inc.

The 'Max' part of Bet Max Stables is Roy Maxwell, and he told Trot Insider that there was never any thought of selling Motown Muscle after her racing days had concluded. It was the same stance he and the connections held with her talented dam.

"We raced her and there was no thought about selling her. We said ‘she’s a good race mare, so let's get her going on her broodmare career and we'll see what comes up.’ We had high hopes for her and I think she's fulfilled them."

To say that Motown Muscle has fulfilled Maxwell's high hopes would be an understatement. From four foals, Motown Muscle has produced four stakes winners and four sub-1:55 trotting winners. The most notable performers are the Resolve siblings Duly Resolved and Righteous Resolve. Duly Resolved was named Canada's Two-Year-Old Male Trotter of the Year in 2021, and female trotter Righteous Resolve appears poised to deliver the same honour to her connections when Standardbred Canada presents the 2022 O'Brien Awards on Saturday, Feb. 4 at the Hilton Meadowvale / Mississauga.

After selling Bright Eyes M and Duly Resolved as yearlings, the connections made the decision to hold onto Righteous Resolve and entrust her to the team that developed the stakes winning siblings, John & Matt Bax. 

"Of course after ‘Duly’ did so well and everything, we decided that ‘You know, John did pretty good with Duly Resolved. Maybe we should see if he’d train this Righteous Resolve horse for us?’ That’s how we got hooked up with him."

The decision worked out as well as anyone could have expected. Righteous Resolve had a dominant freshman campaign, winning eight of 10 races and earning $623,704. The daughter of Resolve won the Champlain Stakes, the Peaceful Way and four Ontario Sires Stakes events, including the OSS Super Final. She also finished third in the Breeders Crown final.

"I went down last year and saw her train in Florida, and I thought she looked pretty good there. And John plays it pretty close to the vest. Every time I would ask him ‘How is she doing?’ the reply would be ‘Well, she's doing okay.’ And he can explain that a little bit when a little bit later when he said, ‘Well, she didn't really show that well training down in Florida, but when she got back to Canada, she turned it on.’ ...He was just being cautious.

"Her first pari-mutuel race, she was green – like all of them are. When she won that race, she came home the last quarter and :27.1 and we said 'Yeah, maybe she’s got some talent.'

That talent might have shone brightest during a stakes record and lifetime best performance in the Champlain.

"She ran down a lot of horses and had her fastest time of the year," recalled Maxwell when asked about her best performance. "Before that race, I think her fastest time was like [1:]55 and a piece. She went [1:]53.1 that night. And, of course, broke the Champlain record.

"We kicked around going to the Mohawk Million and decided we're going to just make sure that we give her the best opportunity in the long run to be the best she can be. And I guess we'll find out pretty quick."

One thing Maxwell did find out quickly and firsthand is why Team Bax has an outstanding reputation not just as horsepeople but just straight-up good people across the harness racing industry.

"They're really easy going, nicest guys you'd ever want to meet, real easy to talk to and they communicate well with us. It was a good fit from the very beginning, personalities and so forth. John is kind of a laid back guy and so am I so that that kind of fits well.

"Team Bax did a tremendous job with this horse. We told them that and we do appreciate all of their hard work."

While the connections won't be in attendance on Saturday night, Maxwell, Bruce Taylor (the BET in Bet Max) and Sebastian Benenati (of Benenati Inc.) will be among those tuning in to the live stream to find out if the voters selected his filly or fellow finalist Silly Me Hanover.

"We've never had an O'Brien Award winner before, if she does in fact win. So we were watching that real closely to see how that all comes out and we're honoured that our horse is thought of in that way and people are taking note of her."

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