Breeding of Bruce Lunsford art collector proved too much for his four rivals on August 4 at Saratoga Racetrackrepeating in the $130,950 Alydar Stakes, a 1 1/8 mile dirt test for older horses that haven’t won a non-state entry in 2022.
Trained by Hall of Famer Bill Mott, Art Collector has come a long way since last winning the 2021 Alydar, making trips to West Virginia, California, and a final trip to Saudi Arabia in February when he completed the edge in the Arabian Cup (G1) before finally returning to the scene of his 3 1/2 length score last year.
Art Collector delivered a similar performance to 2021, taking its place at the front of the pack and never looking back. Despite two finishes off the board in his last two outings, he came back running as hard as ever as Luis Saez sat motionless aboard Bernardini’s son in the lane, and they headed home for a two-length victory .
Posting easy fractions of :24.60, :49.23 and 1:13.77, Art Collector held a comfortable advantage down the backstretch and around the corner to get home. Masquerade who finished second throughout, bid top lane but couldn’t catch Art Collector, who hit the wire in secret in a time of 1:51.84 for nine furlongs.
Masqueparade finished the exacta, 7 1/2 lengths ahead chess leader .
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Art Collector showed versatility in his nine victories and won both lead and lead. Mott said he was ready for a potential challenge up front.
“We thought if the outside horse (Masqueparade) wanted to take the lead, we would let him go and we would have a target,” Mott said. “But at the end of the day, he was alone in the lead. It seemed like he was going quite easily, and it seemed like every time that horse ran towards him, he kept the same advantage.”
Saez echoed Mott’s sentiments.
“He’s a pretty cool horse to ride. He’s pretty smart,” Saez said. “He broke and controlled the pace. He changed his mind to the point where he’s supposed to do it on his own, and he did it all beautifully.”
Art Collector used their previous Alydar victory as a springboard to succeeding in the Graduated Stakes in the Charles Town Classic Stakes (G2) and Woodward Stakes (G1) later this fall at Belmont Park. Mott said both of these races are places circled as likely targets for Art Collector.
Lunsford and Mott shared some memorable moments together, including a runner-up finish in the 1999 Belmont Stakes (G1) with Lunsford’s Vision and Verse. Lunsford then owned and bred a stake-winning, grade one half-sister to Vision and Verse named Distorted legacy who produced Art Collector.
“He’s a special horse. I love the horse. I love his rider,” Lunsford said. “Luis and I are back with his ex-agent (Richard DePass) and current agent Kiaran (McLaughlin). It’s just a big thrill for me to have a horse of this quality and siblings and dam .”
Art Collector increased its total purse earnings to $1,729,555 and improved its record to 9-1-0 in 18 starts. He returned $3.60 for a $2 winning bet.
The dam produced three runners and another winner in Legionnaire (in mischief ), a first winner at Ellis Park July 16 which is pointed next to a first level allocation.
The dam’s unreleased foals are a 2-year-old Into Mischief colt named Classic Legacy, a year-old filly by Justify and one Medaglia d’Oro filly foaled this year.
Video: Alydar S. (BT)
This press release has been edited for content and style by BloodHorse Staff.