Bobby Zen

‘Saturday afternoon horses’ are every breeder’s goal. We continue our new weekly series with a young sire who got his first graded win in a high-profile race this past weekend.

At this time last year, an unheralded colt parlayed a sole maiden win into victory in the GIII Peter Pan S., which led to Classic success in the GI Belmont S. This year Antiquarian (Preservationist) is following the same blueprint put in place by Arcangelo (Arrogate): maiden win early in his sophomore campaign before bursting onto the national scene via a Peter Pan win in May with the Belmont as the next target.

If Antiquarian is giving shades of Arcangelo, it’s not a stretch see some similarities between their respective sires, Preservationist and Arrogate. Neither started at two and both improved with age. No one expected any of their stock to make any impact in the baby races at Keeneland or even to be ready for 2-year-old maiden events at Saratoga. What breeders did expect was quality horses who might need a little more time to grow up and start showing their best.

“I think anyone familiar with Preservationist‘s career would expect these horses to get better with age,” said Bret Jones, president of Airdrie Stud, where Preservationist stands. “He’s not built like a 2-year-old. He’s built like a horse that can get you the Classic distance. I would say he’s on the up, on the come.”

Preservationist, an Emory Hamilton-bred from her family’s exceptional Too Chic (Blushing Groom {Fr}) line, was a $485,000 yearling at the 2014 Keeneland September sale, making him the top-selling yearling by Arch that year. Limited to one start at three and one at four, Preservationist finally broke through at five with a first visit to the winner’s circle in his third career start. After all that time, one may have expected his initial win to come in a route, but it was in a six-furlong sprint at Aqueduct in a sharp 1:09.35. Owner Centennial Farms and trainer Jimmy Jerkens remained patient and were rewarded with three more wins before infiltrating the big leagues when the horse was six. Preservationist took home the hardware in both the GI Woodword S. and the GII Suburban S.

Retired to Airdrie for the 2020 season and introduced at $10,000, Preservationist was visited by 102 mares in his initial season. Those numbers dropped in the following years, as they do for the majority of young stallions, but that first crop is suddenly starting to make some noise. The din began at Oaklawn with Martha Washington S. winner Band of Gold, who switched to the grass for the GII Edgewood S. for trainer Kenny McPeek on Kentucky Oaks day and perhaps didn’t appreciate the yielding turf; then continued to grow with recent smart Keeneland debut winner Save the Trees, who “could be anything,” according to Jones, and sold at Keeneland’s Apr. 26 sale for $335,000; and increased with Gulfstream’s English Channel S. runner-up In a Jam on Derby day.

Antiquarian | Chelsea Durand

All that buildup led to Antiquarian carrying the flag May 11 as the first graded winner for Preservationist. The Todd Pletcher trainee’s win in the Peter Pan, a $200,000 race, helped the now-11-year-old sire break into the top 10 of the current second-crop sire list.

“It was great,” said Jones. “It was just a such a feel-good win Saturday with Centennial having raced Preservationist and the great relationship that we have with Donald Little [Jr.] and Dr. [Stephen] Carr. I know they’ve been high on this horse for a long time.”

While Centennial raced the father and races the son, Airdrie stands the sire and bred the son.

“It’s all Pops [the late Kentucky Governor Brereton C. Jones],” said Jones. “We’re just trying to continue what he believed in.”

He continued: “But Centennial really made a commitment to the horse.”

Centennial bought Antiquarian at the 2021 Keeneland September sale for $250,000, where he was the third highest-priced yearling in Preservationist‘s first crop.

Preservationist is one of the last top horses by the late Arch to go to stud. Arch’s benchmark sire son is Blame, whose 10 crops to race include a liberal sprinkling of six Grade I winners among his 21 graded winners and 47 black-type winners. The majority of Blame‘s top runners have been better at three and beyond, just as Preservationist‘s are expected to be.

Obviously, it’s still early days for a young stallion whose progeny have every right to improve with time and distance, but a Peter Pan win and a jump into the Classic picture with a first-crop runner like Antiquarian can’t hurt.

“I think breeders always need to see it with their own eyes,” said Jones. “I think anyone paying attention right now sees a stallion showing he can get these Saturday horses, horses that should only get better as they go along.

“I think the next several months will be very, very important to his future. We’re very bullish on him.”

The post Saturday Sires: Preservationist appeared first on TDN | Thoroughbred Daily News | Horse Racing News, Results and Video | Thoroughbred Breeding and Auctions.

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