Centennial Farm's Preservationist stepped up into graded stakes company in a big way for Saturday's G2 Suburban, ceding his lead to 6-5 favorite Catholic Boy in the backstretch and gamely pulling away from that rival in the stretch to win by 4 1/2 lengths. It was the third win in a row for the 6-year-old son of Arch, guided by Junior Alvarado to complete 1 1/4 miles over Belmont Park's fast main track in 1:59.99. Trained by Jimmy Jerkens, Preservationist was sent off as the 7-2 second choice in the field of 11.
“He was there all the way for him,” Jerkens said. “Junior [Alvarado] said he felt good coming down the backside. He was so nice and relaxed coming off of a big race, so I thought he'd be fit enough. He's got a lot of talent but he's got stamina too. He has a lot of quality all through his female family. Nice to see it all come together to pick up a graded stakes win here today.”
Preservationist took command to lead by a length over Catholic Boy, who appeared rank in the early stages, and recorded an opening quarter-mile in 24.48 seconds. Just past the quarter pole, Catholic Boy made an early bid and moved to the outside of Preservationist to dictate the pace through a half-mile in 48.09.
Around the far turn, Alvarado began urging Preservationist, who responded by moving to the inside to overtake Catholic Boy past the three-quarters pole and eventually regained the lead. A four-wide Catholic Boy tried to come back but Preservationist widened his margin in the final furlong to win by 4 1/2 lengths. Catholic Boy stayed on for second from Grade 1 winner Pavel, who got third.
Rounding out the order of finish were Realm, Cordmaker, Carlino, Marconi, Rocketry, Lone Sailor, Wooderson and Mead Hall.
“Jimmy is a hell of a trainer and a great horseman, so I knew he was going to get him ready for this race, and that's what he did,” said Alvarado. “My horse broke good, and I let him find his rhythm. He took the lead during the first part of the race and then Catholic Boy came on the outside – a little keen. I wasn't worried. I was trying to give a nice, confident ride to my horse. At the five-sixteenths pole, when it was time to pick it up, I asked him, and he was there for me. He gave me a nice run in the end.”
Bred in Kentucky by Emory Hamilton, Preservationist is out of the winning Dixieland Band mare Flying Dixie. He commanded $485,000 as a yearling at the Keeneland September sale, then debuted in June of his sophomore season with a second at Belmont. He did not race again for nearly 18 months, but ran third in his second start the next December, and finally broke his maiden in January of his 5-year-old season. After an allowance win in February of 2018, Preservationist was on the shelf again for 11 months. This year, the horse recorded back-to-back allowance wins before stepping into stakes company, and improved his overall record to 5-1-2 from eight starts for earnings of over $600,000.
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