Art Collector steps up, Swiss Skydiver takes on boys in Blue Grass

Jul 08, 2020 Vance Hanson/

The three-month delay in running the $600,000 Blue Grass Stakes (G2) at Keeneland has resulted in two unique occurrences in Saturday's Road to the Kentucky Derby prep. First, favoritism might fall on a horse that has not yet won a stakes. Secondly, for the first time since the World War II era, the Blue Grass field will have a filly in the lineup.

Art Collector is not a stakes newbie, having run seventh in the Bourbon (G3) on turf last fall, but two impressive allowance wins during the Churchill Downs spring meet, including one at 1 1/16 miles by more than six lengths, has made the son of Bernardini possibly the horse to beat in the 1 1/8-mile Blue Grass, which awards Kentucky Derby qualifying points of 100-40-20-10 to the top four finishers.

'He has had to earn his way into this spot,' trainer Tom Drury Jr. said. 'There was a question if he really wants to go two turns, but he checked that box and did it maybe with an exclamation point. He drew away at the end and had his ears up while galloping out afterwards. It is time to jump in to the deep end of the pool and see how he stacks up against this kind.'

The filly Swiss Skydiver is safely assured a spot in the Sept. 4 Kentucky Oaks (G1) following consecutive wins in the Gulfstream Park Oaks (G2), Fantasy (G3), and Santa Anita Oaks (G2), but has bypassed Saturday's Ashland (G1) for a chance at an historically bigger prize.

'She gets weight from all these colts,' said trainer Kenny McPeek. 'I think she's going to like the added distance. I like the mile and an eighth better than the mile and a sixteenth (distance of the Ashland).'

According to Keeneland records, only one filly has ever contested the Blue Grass since the race became a Keeneland fixture in 1937. That was Harriet Sue, who finished fifth in a 1944 wartime edition held at Churchill Downs.

Rushie, a solid third behind Honor A. P. and Authentic in last month's Santa Anita Derby (G1) in his stakes debut, merits a look, while Grade 1 veteran Basin was a distant second last out in the Arkansas Derby (G1) division won by the since-sidelined Charlatan. 

Returning from a springtime break is Enforceable, who captured the Lecomte (G3) in January before running second in a Risen Star (G2) division and fifth in the Louisiana Derby (G2). Others with Kentucky Derby points in the bag already are Florida Derby (G1) runner-up Shivaree and multiple graded-placed Finnick the Fierce. Mr. Big News steps up after pulling a 46-1 stunner in the Apr. 11 Oaklawn Stakes over a sloppy track.

The Blue Grass can be watched and wagered on at

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