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First Mission ‘Thriving’ Following Final Work For Brad Cox | 2023 Preakness Stakes News
First Mission (Keeneland Photo)

First Mission ‘Thriving’ Following Final Work For Brad Cox | 2023 Preakness Stakes News

Trainer Brad Cox didn’t necessarily look for his Preakness Stakes (G1) contender First Mission to work five-eighths of a mile in 59.20 seconds as soon as the Churchill Downs track opened at 5:30 Saturday morning.

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But he certainly wasn’t surprised that Godolphin’s homebred colt, who is 3-for-3 after winning Keeneland’s Stonestreet Lexington (G3) went so fast a week before the Middle Jewel of the Triple Crown at Baltimore’s historic Pimlico Race Course.

“It’s him,” Cox said. “He’s gotten better as the year’s gone on. He seems to be thriving right now. That’s really what you want to see going up to a big race. I like quick times, but I’m more interested in how they’re doing it. And I love what we saw this morning.”

Working with stablemate Tapit’s Conquest, First Mission’s time was the fastest of 24 at the distance. Second-fastest was the 59.60 recorded by Tapit’s Conquest as well as, in a separate work, Interstatedaydream, last year’s Black-Eyed Susan (G2) winner that Cox plans to run in this year’s $100,000 Allaire du Pont Distaff this coming Friday at 1 1/8 miles.

“He broke off well in hand; (I’m) happy with the way he was moving and how he galloped out – and happy with the way he looked when he got back to the barn” Cox said of First Mission. “It didn’t seem to take much out of him. Look, we’re in a good spot. He’s had a couple of solid, solid works the last few weeks. He’s going to have to step up and run a solid race next week. If he does, I think he’ll be in the mix. He’s a good colt. We think a lot of him, and we’ll see what happens.”

Cox said his Pimlico-bound horses are likely to train Monday morning at Churchill Downs before vanning to Pimlico later that day.