In a short period of time, Preservationist has made enough noise to establish himself as a major force in the handicap division, but a victory in Saturday's Grade 1, $750,000 Jockey Club Gold Cup could put him atop the older horse division.
Saturday's lucrative Jockey Club Gold Cup Day card features four graded stakes, including two Breeders' Cup Win and You're In events with the Jockey Club Gold Cup offering a berth in the Grade 1, $6 million Classic and the Grade 1, $300,000 Vosburgh providing a berth in the Grade 1, $2 million Sprint, both on Saturday, November 2 at Santa Anita Park.
America's Day at the Races will present live national television coverage of Jockey Club Gold Cup Day at Belmont, which also features the Grade 2, $300,000 Beldame and Grade 3, $200,000 Pilgrim, from 2:30-6:30 p.m. on FS2 with regional coverage airing on MSG Networks from 3:30-6:30 p.m.
Owned by Centennial Farms and trained by Jimmy Jerkens, Preservationist made his stakes debut at the age of 6 just three starts back when besting Grade 1-winners Catholic Boy and Pavel in the Grade 2 Suburban on July 6 over Big Sandy. He earned a 108 Beyer Speed Figure in the process, but his effort in the Grade 1 Whitney at Saratoga did not go as planned, when he went to the lead and faltered to fourth, beaten 7 ¾ lengths.
Last out at Saratoga, the lightly raced Arch bay redeemed himself with a victory in the Grade 1 Woodward presented by NYRA Bets, where he stalked a moderate pace, was patiently ridden by Junior Alvarado and split horses at the top of the stretch to win by a half-length.
Centennial Farms' President and co-owner Don Little, Jr. believes that the large and vocal crowd at the Spa contributed to his lackluster fourth in the Whitney, which is his only off-the-board effort in a dozen lifetime starts.
“Believe it or not, it was all new to him,” Little, Jr. said. “The crowd was big and making noise and he got a little bit wound up, but he's been a different horse since then. He manhandled his way through horses in the Woodward and he's been great since that big race.”
The five-horse field assembled for the Gold Cup wasn't quite what Little, Jr. was hoping for, but nevertheless he believes Preservationist, who will again be piloted by Alvarado, will still run his good race.
“I don't really like small fields in big races like this. Sometimes it comes down to it being a jockey's race and your strategy can fall apart,” Little said. “It will be interesting to see. Junior has ridden him numerous times and I'm sure he'll familiarize himself with the other horses in the race and do the best he can.”
Little, Jr. and the Centennial Farms team could be visiting the winner's circle earlier in the card when they debut highly regarded 2-year-old Ethos, who also is trained by Jerkens.
Bred in Kentucky by Colts Neck Stables, the son of Ghostzapper was a $550,000 purchase from the Fasig-Tipton Florida Select 2-Year-Olds in Training Sale. He is out of the Mr. Greeley broodmare Happy Now, who is a half-sister to multiple graded stakes winning millionaires Ironicus and On Leave.
“I'm really excited about him. We've got a lot of nice 2-year-olds this year, as we usually do,” Little, Jr. said. “It's a nice looking field of young horses and they're all first time starters with the exception of one. You've got a really well bred into Mischief for Juddmonte [Toledo]. It really looks like a Travers day maiden race.”
Little, Jr. said Ethos stood out in a crowd at the sale.
“He's a nice horse. He stood out at the sale,” Little, Jr. said. “His walk was exceptional, just beautiful and athletic. He looks very athletic in his breezes. Good horses don't look like they're going fast when they are.”
Ethos will be ridden by jockey Joel Rosario.
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