Kentucky-bred Art Collector led every step of the 1 1/8-mile journey to take down top prize in the historic Woodward Stakes (G1) at Belmont Park on Oct. 1.
The Bruce Lunsford homebred grabbed the lead away from the gate under Luis Saez. The pair set solid splits of :24.02 for the opening quarter-mile and :47.78 for the half. After six furlongs in 1:12.12, Art Collector maintained a clear advantage with Maxfield and Dr. Post in pursuit. Art Collector proved unyielding in the stretch, though, prevailing by 1 ½ lengths at the wire. He covered the nine furlongs in 1:49.22.
“It was a wonderful race,” said Luis Saez. “I had a lot of confidence in my horse. He always tries so hard. He always comes with a run and finishes with run, and today he ran his race. We expected to be on the lead. He broke so well and he was able to control the pace. That was an exciting race.”
Winner of last year’s Blue Grass Stakes (G2) and Ellis Park Derby for trainer Tom Drury, Art Collector won the Charles Town Classic (G2) in his previous start for trainer Bill Mott who took over the son of Bernardini’s training earlier this season. Art Collector, who is out of the Distorted Humor mare Distorted Legacy, also annexed the Alydar Stakes at Saratoga prior to that in his initial start for Mott.
“He was in great shape,” said Mott. “When he came to me, he had a race under his belt and was ready to go. He’s done well since we’ve had him.”
With the win, Art Collector pushed his career bankroll to $1,535,305 and improved his record to 15-8-1-0. Mott indicated following the race that the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) could be the bay colt’s next target.
“I’ll talk to Mr. Lunsford. He makes the final decision, but I don’t know what we have to lose,” said Mott. “I’d run him a mile and a quarter. A mile and an eighth hasn’t been a problem for him, so why would I cut him back?”