Art collector handles transition to Mott’s Barn with grace, prepared for classic’s biggest challenge – Reuters
Art Collector saw far more scenery changes than its cohorts at this year’s Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Classic. Bill Mott will saddle the Bernardini colt in this Saturday’s race, and is the horse’s third trainer – no record of course, but more than is typical for a graduate level horse.
Speaking at a press conference in Del Mar on Nov. 1, Mott said Art Collector handled its latest barn switch with ease. Although the basic routine is similar from one higher level stable to another, there are changes – to feed, hay, equipment and noise levels – that can be upsetting for horses. which are easily shaken.
“I guess we have to hope the horse fits our style,” Mott said. “Sometimes the horse adapts to us as much as we adapt to the horse. The horse fell right into the training regime we had him in, and he was ready to race when we got him. We we just kept going and he did really well. Right now he looks great.
Art Collector started his career in 2019 with Joe Sharp, then moved to Tommy Drury’s barn for his G2 Blue Grass and Ellis Park Derby wins. He finished a disappointing fourth in the G1 Preakness and eighth in the G1 Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile as a 3-year-old and earlier this summer switched to Mott.
Since transitioning to Mott’s barn, Art Collector is three out of three, with its last victory in the G1 Woodward over Maxfield and Dr Post.
Having Art Collector in the barn is something of a loophole moment for Mott, whose relationship with owner Bruce Lunsford goes back many years. Mott trained Bunting, Art Collector’s second dam, for Lunsford in the mid-1990s. Lunsford bought her from the scatter of Greentree Stable (Mrs. delivered some good racing scores with her before retiring to the breeding shed. Bunting would go on to spawn Distorted Legacy, which produced Art Collector from a cross with Bernardini.
Mott said he had no concerns about the 1 1/4 mile distance. He has seen strong forward finishes in his previous 1 1/8 mile prep runs. He also thinks Art Collector has some flexibility in their racing style; it’s no secret that Knicks Go will likely be the classic point guard, and Mott thinks Art Collector will be happy to slow down or stalk if he needs to – which would be a departure from his gate-to-wire wins in the Woodward or the Alydar. Much of his race strategy will hinge on Monday afternoon’s post office draw.
Mott is under no illusions that the Classic will be easy work, despite his positive feelings about the colt’s development – and he hasn’t shied away from the idea that a decent performance here could really improve his stallion career prospects.
“We know we’re going in deep water,” Mott said. “We are trying out a new group of horses, and they are the best we are going to face. We are adding another furlong to what he has ever run and we have to figure that out. You never know until they do.