SARATOGA SPRINGS, NY – Centennial Farms’ Preservationist pressed between foes in mid-stretch and shot through late to win Saturday’s $750,000 Woodward Stakes Presented by NYRA Bets (G1) at Saratoga.
Breaking from post 5 under Junior Alvarado as the 3/1 third choice, Preservationist settled along the rail in third heading into the clubhouse turn. Up front, Mr. Buff led the way through fractions of :23.98, :47.97, and 1:11.49 as the field hit the far turn.
Bal Harbour and jockey Javier Castellano made the first bid for the lead midway through the turn, and Alvarado tipped Preservationist out to follow behind him. Midway down the stretch, Preservationist squeezed his way between Bal Harbour and Tom’s d’Etat to join the fight.
Under a drive while still in traffic, Preservationist broke free late and fought forward in the shadow of the wire. The Jimmy Jerkens trainee crossed 1/2 a length clear in a final time of 1:48.11 for the 1 1/8-mile event over the fast main track.
“I had a great trip,” Alvarado said. “I tried to find my way through and have something turning for home, but it was hard. Javier had some horse turning for home and I wanted to follow him. but I know he didn’t want to move because then I would be in the clear, so he tried to hold me there as long as he could. Turning for home, I had some run in between horses. They made it a little bit tight for me there, but at that point, I thought I had it.”
Bal Harbour fought along the inside to keep second by a 1/2-length over the 2/1 favorite and defending champion Yoshida, who rallied from the rear but couldn’t get up in time. Tom’s d’Etat was unable to sustain his bid off of the far turn and flattened out before finishing fourth. Mongolian Groom, Wooderson, a spent Mr. Buff, and a non-threatening Forewarned completed the order of finish. Vino Rosso was scratched.
Preservationist’s win was his second at the graded level, having taken the Suburban Stakes (G2) at Belmont Park on July 6. The 6-year-old son of Arch broke into millionaire status after pocketing $400,000; he now has total earnings of $1,037,300 to go with a record of 10-6-1-2.
“It was a nice, even race from him,” Jerkens said. “Perfect for the kind of horse that he is – even-paced. He’s got a good cruising speed, but it looked like he was just galloping. When he gets into a nice rhythm like that, he’s going to run his race. Junior was able to switch him to his outside lead and I thought he really took over after that. I didn’t think he was going to get there at first, but when one of the horses started to fade and it began to open up a little bit, I was pretty confident after that.”
Preservationist returned $8.10 to win, $5.10 to place, and $3.60 to show. Bal Harbour brought back $12 to place and $5.10 to show, while Yoshida paid $2.80 to show.