The postponement of the Kentucky Derby (G1) from May to September this year could ultimately work to the advantage of a number of late-developing 3-year-olds. One is Art Collector, who wore down the filly Swiss Skydiver in Saturday's $600,000 Blue Grass Stakes (G2) at Keeneland to earn his first stakes win and stamp his ticket for the Sept. 5 Run for the Roses.
Sent away the 2-1 choice behind Swiss Skydiver, Art Collector made it a perfect 3-for-3 on the year under Brian Hernandez Jr., heading the filly approaching the eighth pole and drawing off to win by 3 1/2 lengths.
A homebred racing for Bruce Lunsford and trained by Tom Drury Jr., Art Collector returned $6.60 after completing 1 1/8 miles over a fast track in 1:48.11.
"I'm at a loss for words," Drury said. "He's very versatile, very classy, he's kind of the whole package."
When asked whether Art Collector could prep one more time before the Louisville classic, Drury preferred to savor the moment.
"It took me my whole life just to get to this point. I'm going to enjoy this and worry about that tomorrow," he said.
Art Collector has the flexibility of not needing to run again after earning 100 Kentucky Derby qualifying points in the Blue Grass. Swiss Skydiver, comfortably in the Kentucky Oaks (G1) with 310 qualifying points for that race, earned 40 Derby points, while Rushie and Enforceable earned 20 and 10 points, respectively, for finishing third and fourth. Rushie has 40 total points and Enforceable 43.
The order of finish in the Blue Grass was rounded out by Attachment Rate, Mr. Big News, Finnick the Fierce, Tiesto, Hard Lighting, Basin, Shivaree, Hunt the Front, and Man in the Can.
Art Collector began his career under the care of trainer Joe Sharp and on turf, over which he broke his maiden last September at Kentucky Downs. Seventh in his stakes debut in last October's Bourbon (G3), Art Collector finished sixth in his debut on dirt and then first in a main-track allowance at Churchill Downs. However, he was disqualified from the latter due to a medication positive and was subsequently transferred to the Drury barn.
Art Collector returned to action on May 17, winning a 7-furlong allowance by 2 3/4 lengths. He was a more authoritative 6 1/2-length winner of a 1 1/16-mile allowance, also at Churchill, in his most recent start.
Foaled in Kentucky and a son of Bernardini, Art Collector is out of the Grade 1-placed stakes winner Distorted Legacy, a Distorted Humor half-sister to classic-placed Grade 2 winner Vision and Verse.