Centennial Farm's Preservationist showed off his strength of will on Saturday, making his way through a narrow hole and fighting his way to the wire first in the Grade 1 Woodward Stakes. The 6-year-old son of Arch and jockey Junior Alvarado were sent off at 3-1 after a fourth-place finish in the G1 Whitney, but the pair battled back for a Saratoga victory by a half-length over Bal Harbour. Trained by Jimmy Jerkens, Preservationist ran nine furlongs on the fast main track in 1:48.11.
“He was a little more settled today than when he was in the Whitney [fourth-place],” Jerkens said. “I thought he was much better in the post parade. He was able to stay with the pony. Last time, he wasted a lot of energy. He's been doing well since that last race in his workouts and his whole demeanor. Physically, I thought he looked terrific.”
Though the field of eight was a bit unsettled before the break, the starter and his crew got everyone off to a good beginning in the Woodward. Preservationist was fourth early on, laying just inside and behind the speed of New York-bred Mr. Buff through early fractions of :23.98 and :47.97.
Bal Harbour was second down the backstretch, a length and a half off the leader, while Preservationist moved up to third inside of Mongolian Groom and Tom's d'Etat. As is his custom, 2-1 favorite Yoshida was at the rear of the field.
Tom's d'Etat moved up to challenge four-wide while Yoshida made his move at the same time in the far turn, and Mr. Buff was the first to fold. Alvarado was waiting for racing room behind a wall of horses at the top of the stretch, and had to send Preservationist through a narrow hole for a shot at the wire and new leader Bal Harbour.
Jockey Irad Ortiz was flagging Tom's d'Etat left-handed, so his whip was right in Preservationist's eye line as the horse tried to take on Bal Harbour. Alvarado changed hands to get his horse's attention on his rival to the inside, and Preservationist responded brilliantly to gamely run down Bal Harbour and win by half a length. Yoshida got up for third while Tom's d'Etat tired late in finishing fourth.
“I tried to find my way through and have something turning for home, but it was hard,” admitted Alvarado. “Javier [Castellano, Bal Harbour] had some horse turning for home and I wanted to follow him but I know he didn't want to move because then I would be in the clear. So, he tried to hold me there as long as he could. Turning for home, I had some run in between horses. They made it a little bit tight for me there, but at that point, I thought I had it.”
Bred in Kentucky by Emory A. Hamilton, Preservationist is out of the winning Dixieland Band mare Flying Dixie. He was a $485,000 yearling purchase at the Keeneland September sale, and didn't break his maiden until his third start when he was five years old. This year, the horse has proven his connections' patience was worth it with wins in the G2 Suburban and now the G1 Woodward, improving his overall record to six wins from 10 starts for earnings over $1 million.
“I'm sure we'll take a look at the [Grade 1, $750,000] Jockey Club Gold Cup, but he's run pretty close together his last three starts,” Jerkens said. “Obviously, the year-end goal you have to look at the Breeders' Cup Classic as to where we want to be. We'll come up with a plan to get there ready.”
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