Art Collector is curating another Alydar Trophy

Art Collector is curating another Alydar Trophy | Pro Club Bd

Art Collector Repeats at the 2022 Alydar Stakes in Saratoga (Photo by Coglianese Photos)

For the second year in a row, Art Collector found the Alydar S. in Saratoga to be the perfect getaway to get back on track. And once again Bill Mott’s apprentice started the race with Luis Saez as the favourite. With an even shorter 4-5 shot in Thursday’s $130,950 overtime, Art Collector also increased its winning lead to two lengths.

However, there were two key differences from last summer. In 2021, home-bred Bruce Lunsford started the season for the second time, but for the first time since joining Mott. This time Art Collector was reinstated after a five-month layoff. Bernardini’s son had not raced since his disappointing 12th place finish in the Saudi Cup (G1) on February 26th.

His main opponent had a modern-day advantage. The Class 3 Masque Parade veteran, the second pick of 2.70-1, just received an allowance for Churchill Downs on June 23. It didn’t matter in the end because Art Collector was too good.

Art Collector broke from post 4 in a five horse field and traveled well within himself through fractions of: 24.60 and: 49.23. Masqueparade competed on the outside until the leader got away at the six meter mark in 1:13.77. The rest would soon have trouble keeping up with Masqueparade.

Art Collector extended its lead at the top end. The stubborn masque parade reduced the deficit late, an effort aided by Saez’s non-urging art collector. The winner completed 1 1/8 miles in 1:51.84.

The only drama, the photo for the third, unfolded another 7 1/2 lengths backwards. Chess Chief, the longest shot on the board at 29.25-1, edged out Mystic Night for the bronze medal. Bal Harbor stayed behind on his return after seven months. King Fury got scratched.

“He’s a pretty cool horse to ride,” Saez said of Art Collector. “He’s pretty smart. He broke and controlled the pace. He changed the line where he should be doing it himself and he did it all beautifully.

“My plan was to break from there and if he takes the lead I know he’s pretty quick. So if he takes the lead, we’ll take it. If not, we’re going after someone. He’s a horse you can ride however you want.

“We tried that with him,” Saez replied, noting the modest pace. “We tried to control the pace as slowly as possible and everything went so perfectly. When he got to the end of the track, I had so many horses that he just kept going on his own.”

Mott made similar comments about Art Collector’s manageability.

“We figured if the outside horse (masque parade) wanted to go to the front, we’d let him go and have a goal,” the Hall of Fame coach said. “But how it worked out, he was alone at the top. It looked like he was going easy enough and it looked like he kept the same advantage every time the horse (Masqueparade) ran towards him.

Art Collectors 2021 Alydar set him up for wins at the Charles Town Classic (G2) and Woodward (G1) and his 2022 agenda may look familiar.

“Maybe we’ll go to Charles Town, back to the Woodward,” Mott said. “In the short term we are definitely thinking about going to the Charles Town Classic with him. That could change, I’ll speak to Bruce (Lunsford) and see what he wants to do. He had looked forward to going there last year; maybe he wants to go back.”

Lunsford sounded on the same page about a Charles Town title defense on August 26, while adding Churchill Downs for later.

“Charles Town makes logical sense,” said the owner/breeder. “What happens next will speak for itself. I think it will be a good race this year. From there we will choose our seats. I’m a Kentucky guy so maybe we could go to the Lukas Classic ([G2] on Oct. 1) or the Clark ([G1] on Nov. 25). We may be there, but Bill will make that decision.”

Art Collector’s scorecard stands at 18-9-1-0, $1,729,555. The bay notched his first stake wins for trainer Tom Drury, the Blue Grass (G2) and Ellis Park Derby to become a prime contender for the 2020 Kentucky Derby (G1) delayed by the pandemic. Unfortunately scratched by the Derby with a foot problem, Art Collector finished fourth in the Preakness (G1) and eighth in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (G1). After joining Mott and scoring a hat-trick on the Stakes in 2021, Art Collector tried his hand at the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) but fell to sixth place behind Horse of the Year Knicks Go.

Distorted Legacy, a Kentucky native, is from Grade 1. The Distorted Humor mare is a half-sister to the 1999 Belmont (G1) 1999 Belmont (G1) winner Vision and Verse, out of the wider family of Stop the Music and Hatchet Man.

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