The Bob Baffert-trained Preachinatthebar took command on the final turn in Saturday's $300,000 Texas Mile (gr. III) 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 120 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 jockey Garrett Gomez.The win was the eighth in 23 lifetime starts for Preachinatthebar, a son of Silver Charm, and was worth $165,000, raising the 5-year-old's earnings to $638,240 for owner/breeder Mike Pegram. Preachin' won the 1 1/8-mile Tokyo City Handicap (gr. III) in his last start at Santa Anita April 1.This was the second Texas Mile win for Baffert and Pegram. They took the inaugural running in 1997 when Isitingood upset champion Skip Away.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. 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 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."
The victory capped a stellar Saturday for Baffert, the three-time Kentucky Derby (gr. I) 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.Nakayama finished fourth, followed by Halos Sailing Sain, Dominguin, Yes He's a Pistol, Charming Socialite, High Strike Zone, Mr. Trieste, and Play the Chime.(Chart, Equibase)