Centennial Farms' Preservationist will look to regroup in Saturday's Grade 1, $750,000 Woodward presented by NYRA Bets at nine furlongs on the Saratoga main.
The 6-year-old son of Arch posted a three-furlong blowout on Thursday morning over the Oklahoma training track which he completed in 36.66 seconds. In his previous work last Thursday, he went six furlongs in 1:13.30.
A five-time winner of nine starts, Preservationist won his stakes debut two starts back in the 10-furlong Grade 2 Suburban at Belmont Park over dual Grade 1-winner Catholic Boy, where he registered a 108 Beyer Speed Figure. Last out, Preservationist set the pace in the nine-furlong Grade 1 Whitney, before retreating to fourth, beaten 7 3/4 lengths to McKinzie.
“He pulled up [from the Whitney] well and it looks like he's training well. We blew him out a little this morning and his work last week was good, so we're taking another shot,” said trainer Jimmy Jerkens, who saddled Shaman Ghost to a Woodward victory in 2016.
Jerkens said he is pleased with post 5 for Preservationist in the Woodward, where he will he will again be piloted by Junior Alvarado.
“A mile and an eighth around two turns is different from a mile and a quarter around a turn and a half,” said Jerkens. “The key to those races is to have an easy rhythm. That's not always going to work out, but he's got a nice post. He can tuck in a little and save some ground and make a gradual run from there on. Hopefully he's good enough.”
The Woodward field features two Grade 1 winners in Vino Rosso and last year's Woodward victory Yoshida, but Jerkens said multiple New York-bred stakes winner Mr. Buff is a possible concern with speed from the inside post.
“Mr. Buff, from his post, he's certainly the speed of the race. He's dangerous if he can dictate,” Jerkens said. “He's improved a lot since last year. He showed, even in the debacle last time, he got hung up in the gate, broke in a tangle and still won. He shows he's got something more to him than previously thought.”
Jerkens said he isn't concerned about bringing Preservationist back four weeks after his Whitney outing.
“A lot of people like to wait for the next one but a lot can happen to horses in seven weeks' time, so as long as you think you're doing well, you might as well take a shot,” Jerkens said.
Preservationist broke his maiden at third asking, two starts after emerging off of a 16-month layoff. After defeating winners for the first time last February, he did not return to action until 11 months later where he ran third. Since that effort, he has won three of his last four starts.
Bred in Kentucky by Emory Hamilton, Preservationist is out of the Dixieland Band broodmare Flying Dixie, who is a half-sister to dual turf graded stakes winner Hungry Island.
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