Rupp Racing's Owendale earned his way into Saturday's $1.5 million Preakness (G1) at Pimlico with a 1 3/4-length score in the Lexington (G3) at Keeneland.

Owendale didn't send signals that he would be a classic performer early on in his career. The son of Into Mischief finished fourth at Ellis Park in each of his first two outings in the summer before ultimately graduating third time out at Indiana Grand going one mile.

He finished a credible fourth in a tough allowance race at Churchill Downs next time out, and the bay colt concluded his juvenile campaign by running a strong second in an allowance tilt at Fair Grounds.

The Brad Cox trainee made good in his sophomore debut with a pace-pressing tally at Fair Grounds which led him to his initial stakes try. The Kentucky-bred was one of 14 to contest the Risen Star (G2), but a wide trip throughout compromised his chances when he checked in eighth, beaten 10 lengths.

Owendale then entered the Lexington off of a two-month break and the freshening paid off. With Florent Geroux in the silks, Owendale had just one horse beaten early but made an eye-catching move approaching and into the lane en route to his first graded stakes triumph.

The Preakness contender was bred by Stonestreet and is the first stakes star produced by the unraced Bernardini mare Aspen Light. That mare is a half-sister to 2006 Breeders' Futurity (G1) victor Great Hunter, and she is from the same female line as six-time Grade-1 winning champion Stellar Wind as well.

Owendale brought the gavel down $200,000 at the 2017 Keeneland September Yearling Sale, going to John Wentworth. He earned a healthy 99 BRIS Speed figure in the Lexington accompanied by a notable 106 BRIS Late Pace number, both of which are career highs.

The prospect is moving forward at the right time and would be a factor on Saturday with continued ascension. Owendale remains a bit of a tricky proposition for the Preakness in that he has never run longer than 1 1/16 miles, nor has he ever faced a field with this amount of quality in it.

With that said, Owendale has reportedly been training in superb fashion lately and he simply may be peaking in advance of his biggest assignment to date. The colt can't be dismissed at Old Hilltop in a sophomore crop that has seen very little separation at this juncture of their careers.