Art collector looks to repeat victory in Alydar Stakes in Saratoga – Reuters

Bruce Lunsford’s Art Collector takes on three other tiered stake winners in Thursday’s $135,000 Alydar Stakes, a nine-stay test for older horses who haven’t won a stake other than state in 2022, at the Saratoga racetrack.

Art Collector, a three-time winning 5-year-old, sports an 18-1-0 record in 17 starts and lifetime earnings of $1,655,305 as the only millionaire on the court. He made his debut for Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott with a gate-to-wire score at last year’s Alydar, beating ranked stakes winners Night Ops and Math Wizard. Bernardini’s bay son won by 1 1/2 lengths on his way to a strong 4-year-old season, then winning the Grade 2 Charles Town Classic and the Woodward (G1) at Belmont Park en route to a sixth at the Breeders ‘ Cup Classic (G1) in November at Del Mar.

Mott said Art Collector may follow a similar lead during its current campaign.

“These are races we’re looking at, but we have to get past first,” Mott said.

Art Collector begins an international commitment in the Saudi Cup (G1) in February, finishing in an unusual 12th place. Mott said the performance could have been due to a heavy track at King Abdulaziz Racecourse.

“He was close to the front and then everyone was there, several good horses, back from the race,” Mott said. “It’s a different type of track, a completely different type of surface. It was safe, but maybe a little heavy, sticky, or laborious might be the best way to put it.

Conditioned by Joe Sharp at age 2, Art Collector broke his maiden on the grass in September 2019 at Kentucky Downs and went down to earth after finishing seventh on his Bourbon (G3) debut at Keeneland. After a pair of two-round allowance scores the following year at Churchill Downs for trainer Tommy Drury, Jr., he captured the Blue Grass (G2) at Keeneland and the Ellis Park Derby en route to a fourth distant in the Grade 1 Preakness.

Luis Saez, last year’s top rider at Saratoga, will retain the post 5 mount.

FTGGG Racing’s Masqueparade will make its first Spa start since finishing sixth at Essential Quality in last year’s Grade 1 Runhappy Travers for trainer AI Stall Jr., who won the 2019 Alydar with Tom’s of State, the Grade 1 winning millionaire.

The Upstart son had a successful 3-year-old season, which included a third-place finish in the Jim Dandy (G2) at Saratoga. He also won the Ohio Derby (G3) at Thistledown, winning a 98 Beyer beating fellow aspirant Alydar King Fury.

Masqueparade was just second on its 2022 debut, an optional two-round allotment claimant for four-race non-winners on May 13 at Churchill Downs. He scored a victory for the same condition at Churchill on June 23.

Stall said Masqueparade had been training forward since returning to Spa, recording three works on the main track this month.

“He might have needed both races this year. He is big and carries a lot of weight and these stallions, when they have a long rest period, are not the easiest thing in the world to recover,” Stall said. “We’re happy he’s come back trying really hard and running at the same level as last year. The third race back is what we’re looking forward to. His training and breezes have been great here so we we are on time.

Joel Rosario, who rode Tom’s d’Etat in the 2019 Alydar, will pilot Masqueparade from position 6.

Trainer Kenny McPeek will saddle Fern Circle Stables and Three Chimneys Farm’s King Fury, which is looking for its first win since a 13-length run in last year’s Bourbon Trail at Churchill Downs. The 4-year-old chestnut Curlin, out of freshman winner Taris, hasn’t raced since finishing a distant eighth in the Kentucky Cup Classic on April 2 on the all-weather surface at Turfway Park.

“He got his shoulder stuck in his last run – we don’t know why or when,” McPeek said. “He came out of it with a twisted right shoulder and it was a little weird. I thought he would run well on the synthetic, but he didn’t, so we’re back on the dirt to which we belong.

A three-time winner of appearances, including Lexington’s 3rd year at Keeneland, King Fury has shown good energy, according to McPeek, who said the Alydar could be used as a springboard for graded appearance commitments.

“If he runs well, hopefully we’ll see him again in some of the biggest three-and-over races,” McPeek said.

Jose Ortiz has the mount aboard the King Fury from Station 4.

Five-time winner Chess Chief, trained by Dallas Stewart, will look for his first win away from Fair Grounds, last finding the winner’s circle at Tenacious on Dec. 26 at the New Orleans Oval.

The 6-year-old son of Into Mischief won the New Orleans Classic (G2) last year, beating out graduated stakes winners Owendale and Enforceable. Chess Chief will be looking to make amends in his fourth start this year, after three distant sixth-place finishes this year.

Reylu Gutierrez will ride from position 3.

Three Chimney Farm’s Peter Brant and Mystic Night are trying to build on back-to-back triumphs for Spa lead coach Chad Brown. The son of Into Mischief won two lengths by completing two laps on the main track at Keeneland in April, two months after scoring 1 1/2 on a sloppy and sealed main track at Aqueduct.

Favored in his last six starts, Mystic Night’s only effort was a distant sixth in Queens County at Aqueduct.

Coming out of position 1, Mystic Night will be ridden by Irad Ortiz Jr.

Bal Harbour, a Red Oak Stable horse, will make his first start at Spa since finishing second at Woodward (G1) in his 4-year-old season. First Samurai’s 7-year-old son was last seen finishing fifth in Queens County on December 18 at Aqueduct. His most recent win came in the 2018 Gio Ponti at the Ozone Park oval.

Flavien Prat will pick up the mount at post 2.

The Alydar pays tribute to the Calumet Farm Hall of Fame runner and prominent stallion who finished second to Affirmed in all three legs of the 1978 Triple Crown. at the Spa to defeat older horses in the Whitney of that year before winning the Travers by disqualification against Affirmed.

Norma D. Ross