US RACING: Preservationist takes Woodward Stakes


Preservationist boldly split horses and edged ahead in deep stretch Saturday at Saratoga to win the Grade 1, $750,000 Woodward Stakes, in the process taking step toward the Breeders’ Cup Classic.

Two starts back, the Jimmy Jerkens-trained son of Arch won the Suburban (G2) going 1 1/4 miles at Belmont Park, but Preservationist followed up when fourth at this same trip in Saratoga’s Whitney (G1).

Connections cited the fact that Preservationist had never run a full two-turn race before the Whitney. And in the paddock, he wasted energy when getting mentally worked up.

After a more quiet post parade for the Woodward, it could be on to bigger things for the Centennial Farms runner, who had Junior Alvarado up through nine furlongs in 1:48.11.

"You could see it," Alvarado said. "He was more settled -- more calm. His mind was just right for the race."

"It's huge," added Jerkens, who has also nursed Preservationist through a number of minor ailments during a career that has consisted of just 10 starts since a June 10, 2016, debut.

"The Suburban was really something, but to win a Grade 1 after what we've been through with him for three and a half or four years is just incredible."

Preservationist saved ground until a few anxious moments in the stretch as he looked for room to run, sitting off pace-setting New York-bred Mr. Buff, who went in 23.93 and 47.97 to open proceedings.

Bal Harbour initially went to the lead, looking like he may get away to the upset. But Preservationist dueled through traffic, nosing ahead late as 2-1 co-favorite Yoshida rallied down the center of the track.

Away at 3-1, Preservationist returned $8.10 to win.

"I thought he couldn't get through at a crucial time," Jerkens said of the congestion in the stretch. "At the 5/16ths pole, I thought we were in trouble. But he's got such class. He bullied his way through."

Bal Harbour held on for second with Yoshida, the defending Woodward winner, third in the field of eight. Vino Rosso, another Grade 1 winner entering Saturday, scratched to target the Sept. 28 Jockey Club Gold Cup (G1) at Belmont Park.


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