Kentucky Derby off radar for Collusion Illusion

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Trainer Mark Glatt has conceded that sprinting is the future for Collusion Illusion as he all but ruled out a crack at September’s Kentucky Derby.

Collusion Illusion was last sighted on the racetrack easily winning in the 6½-furlong Laz Barrera at Santa Anita in mid-June, after which his trainer suggested ‘stretching him out’ for a crack at the Kentucky Derby was very much in his thinking.

Those plans have been shelved now, with a next target selected over a sprint trip.

“We’re going to keep the horse sprinting,” Glatt said on Sunday. “And we’re looking at the Allen Jerkens on August 1st at Saratoga.”

He was a Grade 2 winner last season via the Best Pal at Del Mar after being purchased for $300,000 by owners Dan J. Agnew, Rodney E. Orr, Jerry Schneider and John V. Xitco.

Last month’s win at Santa Anita was his fourth success in five starts but, pointedly, he was pulled up by jockey Flavien Prat in September’s Grade 1 American Pharoah on his only attempt going around two turns.

His trainer now concedes he doesn’t have much belief that stamina will be a forte going forward.

“I don’t know that he’ll ever run a (mile and a quarter). And with the Derby of course being a mile and a quarter, I don’t know how much that’s in our plans. We’re kind of taking one race at a time,” he added.

For now, Glatt would prefer to keep Collusion Illusion pointed at prizes he feels he holds a strong chance in, rather than take him places he may not relish.

He said: “He’s a little bit behind the eight ball from having enough two-turn experience anyway. And with a Grade 1 sitting right before our eyes in a race that he looks like he’s going to be a very live horse in, we just feel like at this time, it’s best to keep him at what’s been working very well, and that’s around one turn.”

The change in tact is nothing to do with Collusion Illusion’s work at home where he is reported to be doing things just right.

“He trains very strongly, gallops very strongly. He’s a good workhorse. He kind of does everything the right way,” added Glatt.

The Allen Jerkens Stakes is a three-year-old only sprint over seven-furlongs on the dirt track at Saratoga and has been won in recent years by the likes of Practical Joke, Promises Fulfilled and Mind Control. With a $500,000 prize on offer, Glatt will know Collusion Illusion could add significantly to the $248,751 he has already banked for his owners.