Baffert's Preachinatthebar Wins Grade III, $300,000 Texas Mile at LSP

(April 29, 2006) - The Bob Baffert-trained Preachinatthebar took command on the final turn in Saturday's Grade III, $300,000 Texas Mile at Lone Star Park in Grand Prairie, Texas and held on to beat Stockholder by a neck in front of 14,437 fans. Texcess was another neck back in third.

"He's just a class horse and when he's on his game he's going to give it to you," said winning rider Jon Court, who carried 122 pounds. "He comes to the races all business."

Preachinatthebar covered one mile on a surface rated "good" in 1:36.81. He paid $6.80, $3.80 and $3 as the 2-1 second betting choice. Stockholder returned $7.80 and $5.20. Texcess paid $3.20. Yes He's a Pistol, the 2-1 favorite, finished seventh. "I had a really good trip, just no horse," said Yes He's a Pistol's jockey Garrett Gomez.

The win was the eighth in 23 lifetime starts for Preachinatthebar and was worth $165,000, raising the 5-year-old's earnings to $638,240 for owner/breeder Mike Pegram.

This was the second Texas Mile win for Baffert and Pegram. They took the inaugural running in 1997 when Isitingood upset champion Skip Away.

Winning a stakes race in Texas is nothing new to Baffert, Court and Pegram. Baffert tallied his 11th Lone Star stakes victory and fifth for Pegram. Meanwhile, California-based Court won five local stakes a year ago and now boasts seven career Lone Star stakes wins.

"I always enjoy coming to Texas," Court said. "Some of the horses I rode early in my career in Louisiana were Texas-breds and I was winning stakes early on so it's always got a sentimental touch, not only when I come here, but when I win here. So far it's been great that way and hopefully it continues."

Preachinatthebar was caught five-wide into the first turn and moved into contention as the field of 11 older horses entered the backstretch. On the turn for home, the big gray fought four-wide between rivals then battled determinedly in a prolonged drive under Court's urging.

"I was concerned with the outside (post No. 10 of 11) and, no disrespect to the other horses in the race, but it looked like a favorable strategy to follow the speed," Court said. "Just as he's shown before, I wanted to give him some running room and when he showed up at the end of the race be the one who had a head in front.

"I kind of let him make the judgment call on [when to move]. Actually, I thought it was a little premature at the three-eighths pole so I just tried to nurse him around the turn as quietly as I could. Once they had all collared me within about a half-length or three-quarters-of-a-length, I called on him just on the approach to the three-sixteenths. I knew he had a good eight-of-a-mile kick and he was enough to carry with that."

The victory capped a stellar Saturday for Baffert, the three-time Kentucky Derby winning trainer who plans to start three horses in the 132nd "Run for the Roses" next Saturday (Bob and John, Point Determined and Sinister Minister). On opening day at Churchill Downs, the famed white-haired trainer won the $100,000 Derby Trial with Record.

Earlier on the Lone Star program, jockey Quincy Hamilton rode the winners of both undercard stakes races. Kip Deville led throughout in the $75,000 Grand Prairie Turf Challenge and defeated favorite Desert Wheat by four lengths. The 3-year-old ran one mile over a "soft" turf course in 1:36.32 and paid $10, $4 and $3. In the $50,000 JEH Stallion Station Stakes, Cookin's Cast got up by a neck to defeat favorite Tizzy Girl in 1:18.55 for the 6 ½ furlongs. She paid $32.60, $13.20 and $7.40.

Attendance on Saturday, which doubled as "Dollar Day" at Lone Star Park, was up 8.3% from the 13,329 that attended the Texas Mile/Dollar Day program in 2005. It also was the highest Texas Mile attendance since 2001 - the first year it was run on a separate program as the Walmac Lone Star Derby.

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