Art Collector faces full field in Ellis Park Derby

Aug 06, 2020 by James Scully/

Blue Grass (G2) winner Art Collector will make his final prep for the Sept. 5 Kentucky Derby in Sunday’s $200,000 Ellis Park Derby. Worth points a combined 85 points (50-20-10-5 scale) to the top four finishers, the penultimate qualifier in the Road to the Kentucky Derby series has attracted an overflow field of 13, including an also-eligible.

A Bruce Lunsford homebred, Art Collector will be a prohibitive favorite in the 1 1/8-mile race following his 3 1/2-length score in the July 11 Blue Grass at Keeneland. That marked the first dirt stakes attempt for the Tommy Drury-trained son of Bernardini, and Art Collector has captured all three starts this season by convincing margins, including a pair of conditioned allowance wins at Churchill. Brian Hernandez Jr. rides.

His rivals include Indiana Derby (G3) winner Shared Sense, who still isn’t eligible for the Triple Crown but is expected to be supplemented by Godolphin if he performs well at Ellis Park. Brad Cox trains the son of 2007 Kentucky Derby hero Street Sense, and Florent Geroux will be up. Dean Martini rates as another improving 3-year-old, posting a 14-1 upset in the June 27 Ohio Derby (G3) most recently, and James Graham will be up for Tom Amoss.

Hall of Famer Steve Asmussen will send out Little Menace and Rowdy Yates. Little Menace will try nine furlongs off an easy win in the 1 1/16-mile Grand Prairie Derby at Lone Star Park. Multiple stakes victor Rowdy Yates, fourth in the Ohio Derby, showed an affinity for Ellis when posting a comfortable tally in the Ellis Park Juvenile S. last summer.

Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) runner-up Anneau d’Or, last seen finishing fourth in the Santa Anita Derby (G1), will try to reverse a three-race string of unplaced stakes finishes. Indiana Derby third-placer Necker Island and Grade 3-placed Attachment Rate are also part of the cast.

Two races earlier, 11 sophomore fillies will square off in the $100,000 Audubon Oaks and the 7-furlong test will award 17 points (10-4-2-1) toward a spot in the Sept. 4 Kentucky Oaks.

Contenders include Beaumont (G3) runner-up Sconsin; Casual, a smart winner of her first two starts who is eligible to show more in her second stakes appearance for Asmussen; Keeneland allowance romper Mundaye Call; Forward Gal (G2) runner-up Street of Dreams; and Iowa Oaks (G3) third-placer Ocean Breeze.

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