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Cox Expects First Mission To ‘Take A Step Forward’ | 2023 Preakness Stakes News
First Mission (Maryland Jockey Club)

Cox Expects First Mission To ‘Take A Step Forward’ | 2023 Preakness Stakes News

Trainer Brad Cox said Tuesday morning that he is happy with the way Godolphin’s homebred First Mission has settled in at Pimlico Race Course since arriving from Churchill Downs Monday evening.

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First Mission, winner of the April 15 Lexington (G3) at Keeneland, will step into the Triple Crown series Saturday in the 148th Preakness Stakes (G1). He drew the outside post in the field of eight and will be ridden by Luis Saez, who was up for the Lexington. 

“I’m super-pleased with how he shipped in last night,” Cox said. “He jumped right into the feed tub. It was kind of late when he got here, but I thought it made the most sense in regards to travel time and when to send him.”

This will be Cox’s second Preakness and First Mission will be his third runner in the Middle Jewel of the Triple Crown. In 2019 he entered a pair: Owendale, who was third and Warrior’s Charge, who was fourth.

Cox sent the lightly raced son of Kentucky Derby (G1) winner Street Sense out to the track at Pimlico during training hours Tuesday.

“I’m happy with what we’ve done so far,” Cox said. ‘He had a really good morning and just galloped an easy mile. He’s a kind horse. He’s easy on himself. He doesn’t over-train. He doesn’t pull too much. He has settled in well. So far, so good.”

First Mission did not race as a 2-year-old and debuted on Feb. 18 with a second by three-quarters of a length at Fair Grounds. Cox said the timing of the Preakness fits nicely with the colt’s schedule.

“He’s getting five weeks since the Lexington,” Cox said. “He ran in February, then he was back in four weeks. Then he was back again in four weeks in the Lexington. So, he’s getting five weeks. He has never regressed, based off his numbers, the figures I use. He’s been very steady with his figures.

“I think he’s got to take a step forward. I think he will take a step forward,” he added. “He’s given me every reason to be super-confident with what he’s done in the mornings at Churchill. His three works since the Lexington have been really good. His first was just a maintenance half-mile by himself. Super easy in 49 (seconds). His last two works have been really, really good. So, we’ll see.”