The Monday Special – July 13

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When Art Collector arrived in Thomas Drury Jr.’s barn at the beginning of the year the trainer only had one plan – keeping the Bernardini colt on dirt after he started his career on turf. That decision paid off in spades with Art Collector giving the trainer his first graded stakes win in Saturday’s Grade 2 Toyota Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland.

“[Former trainer] Joe Sharp ran the horse in the fall at Churchill he ran him on the dirt and he just annihilated the field that day,” Drury said. “Whenever you get a new horse in the barn, you always go back and watch their races to figure out running style and things you might change, this that and the other and to me that was his most impressive race. For me there was no question that he was going to run on the dirt.”

Art Collector proved during the Churchill Downs spring meeting that keeping him on dirt was a wise move with wins in both starts under the twin spires. He stepped that up to another level Saturday when dominating the Blue Grass field with only the filly Swiss Skydiver within 8 lengths of him.

The filly made Art Collector work for the victory, dueling briefly with the winner and having Drury worry that his colt wouldn’t be able to get by. That fear went away in the final furlong as Art Collector romped home under Brian Hernandez Jr. to win by 3 1/2 lengths. The victory proved to be a massive one for the trainer, who took out his trainer’s license nearly 30 years ago and had only dreamed of running a horse in a race of this caliber for most of his career.

“I remember thinking at one point that he may not get by her,” Drury said. “Then late in the race once he finally got clear and was going by me, I have no idea what I was thinking. It was just so much excitement. It was amazing. Usually you’re watching races like this on TV and thinking ‘wow, that’d be really cool to have a horse run in a race like this.’ Just to run in the Blue Grass is a big deal. To win it, it can be life changing. I think it can hopefully open up some doors and let people know we’re capable of managing a horse of that caliber and we’re just really excited for what the future might hold now.”

For Drury, keeping Art Collector close to home after those starts was a major incentive to step him up to graded stakes company – something that he’s also keeping in mind as they work their way toward the Kentucky Derby now in less than two months.

Art Collector bounced out of his stall in good shape Sunday morning and Drury said he’ll let the colt tell him where they’ll go next. He wants to stay close to home so it is unlikely Art Collector will travel to Saratoga for the Grade 1 Travers but the Kentucky Derby is firmly on their radar.

A conversation is planned with owner-breeder Bruce Lunsford later this week to figure out the path they’ll be taking to have the colt as fresh as possible for the Derby Sept. 5. He mentioned the Ellis Park Derby Aug. 9 as possible if he runs again before the Derby.

Maiden Winner of the Week: Therideofalifetime looks aptly named if he again runs anywhere close to his maiden victory Saturday at Keeneland.

Trained by Ignacio Correas IV, the Stephen Fidel-homebred took the lead from the start out of the gate and was uncatchable. Having a length lead early on, the 2-year-old Candy Ride colt just extended it from there to romp home by 8 1/4 lengths in the 6-furlong maiden.

Therideofalifetime was second on debut at Churchill Downs last month to Jackie’s Warrior, who recently shipped to Saratoga for trainer Steve Asmussen.

Therideofalifetime is the first foal out of listed winner and Grade 3-placed Cosmic Evolution with the pair hailing from the family of Grade 2-winning Naissance Royale.

Trainer of the Week: It was another top week for trainer Chad Brown when he won two of the three Grade 1 races on the Keeneland card to secure his 100th and 101st Grade 1 victories.

Talented 4-year-old filly Guarana was the one to push Brown to the 100 mark with a determined battle down the stretch with Mia Mischief to win by half-length. The Ghostzapper filly accounts for three of Brown’s Grade 1 victories from her six career starts.

Three races later Rushing Fall became the latest horse to win Grade 1s at 2, 3, 4 and 5 with her second Coolmore Jenny Wiley victory. The winner of five of six starts on the Keeneland turf course, Rushing Fall took her overall total of Grade 1 wins to five with only one coming outside the Keeneland turf course.

“I’m just so happy for the ownership group, especially Mr. Torrealba the original sole owner of the horse and the breeder,” Brown said after Guarana’s victory. “I’ve been associated with him and his family and horses for 17 years now going back to Bobby Frankel … it’s been that long that I’ve been associated with him and his family and horses. To (get the 100th Grade 1 win) with one of his horses is really special. He’s a real fine man. Very loyal. He was the first one to call me and congratulate me.” 

Sire Of The Week: The sire of Blue Grass winner Art Collector, Darley’s Bernardini had a successful day around the country when his Grade 1-winning granddaughter Dunbar Road won the Grade 2 Delaware Handicap. Out of Bernardini’s daughter Gift List, Dunbar Road led home a unique trifecta for the stallion with Bernardini also siring the second- and third-place finishers.

The sire of four stakes winners and 10 stakes horses in 2020, led by Art Collector, Bernardini is also the damsire of seven stakes winners and 14 stakes horses this year. The aforementioned Dunbar Road is one of three Grade 2 winners out of the 2006 Preakness winner’s daughters with other graded stakes winners including talented 3-year-olds Modernist and Maxfield.

Quote of the Week: “I’m over the top proud of the horse and happy for everybody involved. There are so many people that work to get (horses) to the races behind the scenes, my staff and there’s just so much excitement around the barn this morning. I get to be the name in the program but it takes a lot of people to get these horses over there so I’m just thrilled for everyone.” – Thomas Drury Jr.

The Louisville-based trainer won his first graded stakes race on Saturday at Keeneland in the Grade 2 Blue Grass. Art Collector entered Drury’s barn at the beginning of the year and is undefeated in his three 2020 starts.

Bits and Pieces: California shipper Speech ended her spell of seconds when taking out Saturday’s Grade 1 Central Bank Ashland Stakes at Keeneland. … Monomoy Girl added another stakes victory to her record Saturday with a win in the Grade 2 Ruffian at Belmont Park. … The Group 1 July Cup in England on Saturday provided a milestone victory for apprentice Cieren Fallon when he won the race on Oxted, the race is one of the few his father Kieren didn’t win as a jockey. … Shug McGaughey had Enola Gay ready to run in the Grade 2 Appalachian presented by the Japan Racing Association Saturday at Keeneland with the filly breaking the stakes record in only her third start. … Top turf horse Zulu Alpha added a seventh graded stakes victory to his resume Sunday when closing out Keeneland’s abbreviated meet with a win in the Grade 2 TVG Elkhorn Stakes. … Keeneland reported all-sources wagering of $63,299,331 for the five-day summer meet, and a daily average of $12,659,866. The Toyota Blue Grass Day handle came in at $23,834,972, second only to last year’s record of $25,809,200. … Wesley Ward and Ian Wilkes each won five races at the Keeneland meet to tie for leading trainer honors. Tyler Gaffalione won aboard Zulu Alpha to secure the riding title with seven victories. Ken and Sarah Ramsey, Larry Best’s OXO Equine and Kirk Wycoff’s Three Diamonds Farm tied for leading owner with two wins apiece. … Chad Brown secured his fifth leading trainer title at the Belmont spring/summer meet with 23 wins. Irad Ortiz Jr. led all riders with 34 wins and Klaravich Stables led the owners with 13 wins.