Art Collector Prepares to Defeat Four Rivals in Alydar – Up News Info
Bruce Lunsford’s Kentucky art collector proved to be too much for his four rivals as he successfully defended his title in the $135,000 Alydar, a nine furlong test for older horses who have not won any stakes other than state-high in 2022, at Saratoga Racecourse.
Trained by Hall of Famer Bill Mott, Art Collector has come a long way since last winning the Alydar, making trips to West Virginia, California and a final trip to Saudi Arabia in February when he left the board in Group 1 of the Arabian Cup before finally returning to the scene of his 3 1/2 length mark last year.
Art Collector delivered a similar performance to last year, taking their place at the front of the pack and never looking back. Despite two finishes off the board in his last two outings, Art Collector came back to run as hard as ever as Luis Saez sat motionless aboard Bernardini’s son in the lane and headed home for a two-length victory.
Starting from position 4, Art Collector held a comfortable advantage into the first corner, with Masqueparade being asked to take second under Joel Rosario through a first quarter mile in 24.60 seconds on the fast main track. Bal Harbor finished third along the rail with Chess Chief on the outside and Mystic Night on the back.
Positions remained unchanged until Reylu Gutierrez asked Chess Chief for more outside of his rivals and Rosario shook the reins aboard Masqueparade. Meanwhile, Saez remained calm aboard Art Collector as the peloton moved through the corner with three quarters completed in 1:13.77.
Masqueparade continued to chase outside of Art Collector with Chess Chief digging into the center of the racetrack, but Art Collector maintained their advantage with little prodding from Saez as they approached the wire. Its margin shrank as Masqueparade caught up, but Art Collector reduced its speed to the finish and was never threatened by its rival’s offer, stopping the clock in 1:51.84.
Masqueparade finished the exact 7 1/2 lengths ahead of Chess Chief with Mystic Night and Bal Harbor completing the order of finish. King Fury has been scratched.
Mott, who picked up his first victory of the competition, said the effort was exactly what he hoped to see.
“He’s okay with the distance, he likes the track and it was a good comeback run for him since he hasn’t been out since February,” Mott said.
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 maybe if the outside horse [Masqueparade] wanted to take the lead, we would let him go and we would have a goal,” Mott said. “But as it went on, he was alone in the lead. It seemed like he was going pretty easy and it seemed like every time that horse ran towards him, he kept the same edge.
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 tracks to the point where he’s supposed to do it on his own, and he did everything great. My plan was to go from there and if he takes the lead, I know he’s pretty quick, so if he takes the lead, we’ll take him. Otherwise, we will follow someone. It’s a horse you can ride however you want.
Art Collector used their previous victory at Alydar as a springboard to succeeding in the graded stakes in the Grade 2 Charles Town Classic and Grade 1 Woodward later this fall at Belmont Park. Mott said he is likely to continue defending his titles in those races as well on August 26 at Charles Town and October 1 at Aqueduct Racetrack, respectively.
“We could go to Charles Town, in the Woodward. In the short term, we’re definitely thinking of going to the Charles Town Classic with him,” Mott said. “That might change, I’ll talk to Bruce and see what he wants to do. He was excited to go last year, he might want to go back.
Lunsford and Mott shared some memorable moments together, including a second place finish in the 1999 Belmont Stakes with his horses Vision and Verse. Lunsford then owned and bred a half-sister to Vision and Verse named Distorted Legacy, which produced Art Collector.
“He’s a special horse. I love the horse. I love his rider,” Lunsford said. “Luis and I are going back with his ex-agent [Richard DePass] and his current agent Kiaran [McLaughlin]. It’s just a big thrill for me to have a horse of this quality and the siblings and the mother.
“Bill and I have been going back for a long time. We were together in the Belmont Stakes. I’m watching it with him, and I’m like, ‘We’re going to win, we’re going to win.’ But he barely got beat, it was a lot of fun,” added Lunsford remembering Vision and Verse.
Art Collector increased its total purse earnings to $1,729,555 and improved its record to 18-9-1-0. He returned $3.60 for a winning $2 bet as a 4-5 favorite after the start.
Rosario said Masqueparade did its best behind the slow fractions set by Art Collector.
” The trip went well. It was a bit slow at first and I had to follow him a bit to get him going,” Rosario said. “The horse in front was going slowly. He ran his course.
Live racing resumes Friday in Saratoga with a 10-race card, with the 2nd-year National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame, $200,000 in Race 8 and the $300,000 Troy, $300,000 in Race 9 The first post is at 1:05 p.m. EST.
Saratoga live will feature daily coverage and analysis of summer competition at the Saratoga Racetrack on the FOX Sports Networks. For the full broadcast schedule, visit https://www.nyra.com/saratoga/racing/tv-schedule.
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