Lintner: Preservationist runs onto the Breeders’ Cup radar

July 11, 2019 01:48pm

Centennial Farms’ president, Don Little Jr., has been on hand for some of New York’s biggest performances in recent years, including two Triple Crown-clinching Belmont Stakes, Frosted’s 2016 Met Mile (G1) and Arrogate’s record Travers Stakes (G1) later that summer.

“That was right up there to see it in person,” Little said in the days following Preservationist’s 4 1/2-length defeat of Catholic Boy in Belmont Park’s Suburban (G2). “It was a real gutsy, almost too-easy performance.”

It was also to much relief of connections, including trainer Jimmy Jerkens, who has often referred to his handling of Preservationist as “forced patience.” The $485,000 yearling purchase with a mile-and-a-quarter pedigree needed until July of his 6-year-old season to make a stakes debut in the Suburban.

Preservationist is stabled now at Saratoga for the first time and will head into the late summer and fall as a contender to watch in Grade 1 company. He vaulted to No. 3 in the latest Breeders’ Cup Classic Rankings released Tuesday and came in at fifth on this voter’s ballot.

McKinzie and Thunder Snow, the 2-3 finishers in the Met Mile last time, are the only horses ahead of Preservationist in the consensus poll. I also list Vino Rosso and Seeking the Soul — other recent winners within the division — in my Top 5.

“Any of those ones ahead of him would have had a hard time on Saturday,” Little said.

The big question moving forward is whether the son of Arch can show some consistency. With eight career starts, he has never gone more than two races without an extended layoff. His next start would be the third in this cycle that started with a May 23 allowance score.

“The first goal was to get him right. The second goal was to get him a stakes win,” Little said. “We’ve got that far. A Grade 1 is hopefully in the future. I would imagine whether it’s the Whitney or Woodward or whichever, that’s the next step.”

The Whitney (G1) runs Aug. 3 at Saratoga, with the Woodward (G1) following on Aug. 31. Both races are contested at 1 1/8 miles, but only the former offers a fees-paid trip to California for the Breeders’ Cup Classic on Nov. 2 at Santa Anita Park.

Preservationist never broke a bone or showed soft tissue injuries getting to this point. Jerkens said after the Suburban the big-bodied horse was instead plagued by feet too small for the frame. Given some time to grow, here he is.

“This horse has shown a boatload of talent all his career, even in his first start as a 3-year-old,” Little said. “He just had a bunch of hiccups along the way. We just had to wait him out…But we knew when and if he was going to get right, he was going to be something to watch.”

Take a full look at this week’s Breeders’ Cup Classic Rankings:

Consensus Top 10

 Lintner's Top 10

 1. McKinzie

 1. Thunder Snow

 2. Thunder Snow

 2. McKinzie

 3. Preservationist

 3. Vino Rosso

 4. Seeking the Soul

 4. Seeking the Soul

 5. Vino Rosso

 5. Preservationist

 6. Catholic Boy

 6. Tacitus

 7. Gift Box

 7. Maximum Security

 8. Omaha Beach

 8. Gift Box

 9. Gunnevera

 9. Catholic Boy

 10. Catalina Cruiser

 10. Quip


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