Centennial Farms' Preservationist is training well heading into Saturday's Grade 1, $1 million Whitney, trainer Jimmy Jerkens said Thursday.
Preservationist drew the outside post in the eight-horse field for the 1 1/8-mile Whitney, a “Win and You're In” qualifier for the Breeders' Cup Classic on November 2 at Santa Anita. He lightly galloped in the morning.
“It's not ideal, but everything has been good leading into the week,” Jerkens said about breaking from post 8. “He's eaten everything up and seems happy here.”
Both Preservationist and Thunder Snow are listed as 3-1 on the morning line, with McKinzie the favorite at 7-5.
Preservationist is coming off a 4 ½-length win in the 1 ¼-mile Grade 2 Suburban on July 6 at Belmont Park. The 6-year-old son of Arch earned a career-best 108 Beyer Speed Figure for that gate-to-wire victory, where he kicked away from runner-up Catholic Boy and third-place Pavel in besting a talented 11-horse field. He will now be cutting slightly back in running at the Whitney distance for the first time.
“It's always a little tricky cutting back in distance, but he is a horse who has plenty of natural speed,” Jerkens said. “He's not a plodder by any means. He was right there on the pace all the way. On Whitney Day, the track will probably be pretty fast. They usually make them a little faster on the big days. He has enough lick to be there if he has to be.”
Preservationist has never finished out of the money in eight career starts, posting a 5-1-2 record, and enters the Whitney with three straight wins. After making just one start before his 4-year-old year as he battled physical issues, including foot problems, he will now be running in his first career Grade 1 just four weeks off the Suburban.
Jockey Junior Alvarado has been aboard for all four of Preservationist's previous starts this year, resulting in a 3-0-1 record. He will be in the irons again on Saturday.
“It's good to have someone who's been aboard before. He certainly should know him by now,” Jerkens said.
Jerkens is no stranger to big races at Saratoga, saddling two Travers winners with V.E. Day in 2014 and Afleet Express in 2010. He will be looking for his first Whitney winner as he saddles his first starter in the race since Effinex ran fourth in 2016. Wicked Strong also finished fourth, in 2015. His father, the late Hall of Famer H. Allen Jerkens, famously won the 1973 Whitney when Onion upset Secretariat.
“I haven't had too much luck in it so far,” Jerkens said. “Wicked Strong and Effinex finished fourth. That's the best I've done in it. It'd be nice. I've had good luck in the Travers but in the Whitney, we need to start showing up there a little better.”
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