First Mission enters Preakness conversation with G3 Lexington Stakes win
First Mission set himself up for some ambitious targets over the coming months as he gamely prevailed over Arabian Lion in the G3 Lexington Stakes at Keeneland, USA, on Saturday, 15 April.
The Street Sense colt, making his Graded Stakes debut on the back of a comprehensive maiden win at Fair Grounds, broke smartly and disputed the early running before grabbing the inside rail behind Arabian Lion and Prairie Hawk.
First Mission moved up to second leaving the back straight, with Luis Saez asking the Godolphin homebred to close on Arabian Lion soon after.
Arabian Lion continued to hold sway as he shifted off the rail at the top of the straight, allowing Arabian Lion to challenge down his inner and join the long-time leader with a furlong to race.
First Mission refused to be intimidated as Arabian Lion leaned into him, with the Brad Cox-trained three-year-old asserting in the final half-furlong to score by half a length.
Michael Banahan, Director of Bloodstock, Godolphin USA, said: “We have always held First Mission in high regard. He had a few issues as a juvenile last year and ran a tremendous race on his debut to finish second over six furlongs. He won very easily on his last start but this was a tough Lexington Stakes, with some nice horses.
“We were hopeful and confident that, if he showed the talent he has, that he had a big chance. It was exceptionally nice to see that happen, especially with the experience he gained from being in tight on the rail. For an inexperienced horse, I think that will hold well for his future.
“I think the five weeks until the Preakness Stakes is ideal. I think he answered a lot of questions today, so we will certainly look hard at that race. We will see how the Kentucky Derby works out first and how he comes out of this. I think we have a nice horse for down the road even if we didn’t make one of the Classics.”