Thomas Drury puts up Art Collector as the best horse he has trained in a near three-decade career.
Art Collector is amongst the leading contenders for this weekend’s Preakness Stakes at Pimlico and his trainer is excited to get a shot at the Triple Crown race and, in it, the Kentucky Derby hero Authentic.
A native of Kentucky, Drury suffered heartache at the start of this month when a minor setback at home forced him to withdraw Art Collector from the ‘Run for the Roses’ at the eleventh hour.
The well-being of the supremely talented colt was always going to take precedence, with Drury aware he’s the best horse to come into his care.
“We’ve had some really good horses go through the barn”, Drury said ahead of Saturday’s Preakness Stakes. “Art Collector is a very special horse to us. He has taken my career to places I’ve never dreamed it would go. I’ve not had anything like him ever before.”
Art Collector has won his last five starts, a gradual progression that resulted in wins in the Grade 2 Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland in July and last month’s Ellis Park Derby.
On the back of those successes it would have come as a heartache for Drury when he was forced to shelve plans to run in the Kentucky Derby but, while he had to give it plenty of thought, ultimately he insists it was an easy decision to make with the longevity of Art Collector in mind.
“It was certainly difficult. The Derby is a race of a lifetime for a horse trainer. At end of day, the responsibility we have is to put the horse first,” he said.
“It would not have been fair to lead him over there knowing there was an issue going on. It was a no-brainer. We want our horse to be good for the long haul, not just one race.”
Adding that ‘there is no looking back at this point’ Drury is keen to consign the Derby to the history books.
He’ll have a fresh horse for the final Triple Crown race of the year and, having drawn stall three, Art Collector is working as well as ever going into the Preakness.
He was drawn three in the Blue Grass and four in the Ellis Park Derby, so Drury says there will be familiarity for Art Collector in the regard.
He’s currently second-favorite in the betting behind Churchill Downs hero Authentic, seeking to maintain Bob Baffert’s perfect record with Derby winners contesting the Preakness, and Drury is eager to see how Art Collector can perform on the big stage.
His tactical versatility in regards to going forward early or sitting off the pace could be a vital asset.
“His last couple of works have been fantastic. I don’t foresee us having any excuses. Think we’re ready to take our best shot,” the trainer added.
“He has a little stop and go to him. You can use him and get him going again if you need to. In a race like this, that can be beneficial.”