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Preservationist (second from right) trained by Jimmy Jerkens with jockey Junior Alvarado up makes his way through the group and eventually took the lead to win the 2019 Woodward Stakes (G1) at Saratoga Race Course.

SARATOGA SPRINGS – In his successful wire job in the Suburban two starts back, Preservationist showed what he could do working from the front end. That style didn’t work as well one month later in the Whitney, especially with division leader McKinzie applying the pressure, as Preservationist weakened in the stretch, eventually checking in a well-beaten fourth.

In Saturday’s $750,000 Woodward, Preservationist (3-1) went back to the off-the-pace style that has served him best during his brief career. Apparently trapped behind a bunched-up group of horses in upper stretch, the massive son of Arch had to check briefly when one hole didn’t develop. Sent by jockey Junior Alvarado into an equally small gap a bit further out, Preservationist went through willingly, then split Bal Harbour and Tom’s d”Etat nearing the sixteenth pole, accelerating away from those two to hit the wire a half-length in front.

It was a heck of a finish. Longshot Bal Harbour (16-1), who also ran a big race, held second over favored Yoshida (2-1), who closed well for the third spot. Tom’s d’Etat, Mongolian Groom, Wooderson, Mr. Buff and Forewarned followed in that order. Time of the race was1:48.11 over a “fast” main track.

“It was a nice, even race from him,” said winning trainer Jimmy Jerkens. “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 bit, I was pretty confident.”

Mr. Buff made the early running, taking the field through a moderate half in :47.97 and three-quarters in 1:11.49. Bal Harbour was the first to get by, but when the field straightened out, it looked like a half-dozen horses were still in with a chance. It wasn’t until Preservationist burst into the clear that the field began to get sorted out.

“I had a great trip,” said Alvarado, who had been aboard Preservationist for all six starts this year. “I tried to find a way through and have something turning for home, but it was hard. They made it a little tight for me there, but at that point, I thought I had it. He showed some guts today.”

Preservationist, who races for Centennial Farms, has now put together six races in 2019, winning three of them. The 6-year-old horse went over the million mark with the Woodward win ($1,037,300) and now sports 6-1-2 record in 10 starts.

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