Racing the preference for Art Collector

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Thomas Drury's stable star Art Collector
Aug 30, 2020; Louisville, Kentucky, USA; An exercise rider works Kentucky Derby hopeful Art Collector at Churchill Downs. Mandatory Credit: Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports

Art Collector’s owner Bruce Lunsford remains committed to racing again in 2021 despite a sombre end to a promising three-year-old campaign.

Lunsford insists he ‘breeds to race’ and not the other way around as he considers possible plans for next year.

Art Collector was found to have bled internally after his eighth-place finish in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile at Keeneland last week.

He’s bound for the Webb Carroll Training Center in South Carolina and some winter sunshine as he gets a well-earned rest period.

Art Collector began the year with four straight wins, including the Grade 2 Blue Grass Stakes, before a last-minute setback caused him to miss the Kentucky Derby in September.

Instead he went for the Preakness in October, taking fourth as Swiss Skydiver held off ‘Run for the Roses’ winner Authentic – impressive winner of last weekend’s Breeders’ Cup Classic before being retired.

Art Collector turned up at Keeneland but clearly didn’t give his best in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile, justifiably so as it transpired. Lunsford has regrets about not following his intuition in the second part of the season.

“I guess if I had to do it over again, I would have said, let’s just pick a race and run it before the end of the year,” he said of missing the Kentucky Derby,. “Instead, you kind of get sucked into that trying to win a great one and all that that people tell you to do.

“I kind of go against the grain on a lot of that stuff, and I probably should have.”

The owner has confirmed that Art Collector is going to be back with trainer Tom Drury in the New Year, with a view to racing again in 2021, though no concrete plans are in place currently and the horse will be allowed to dictate those. One thing not high on the agenda for the colt at this stage is going to stud.

“He’s got to kind of show us. I don’t really race to become a sire. I really breed to race. I enjoy the game. And if we get there, we get there,” the owner added.

Lunsford is looking forward to next season, where there won’t be the same pressures to target certain races as exists for a three-year-old colt.

“We’re going to give him three months off in the sunshine in South Carolina with the fellows that broke him down there and let him get to feeling good, and then pick out spots next year, not worrying about a Triple Crown or anything else,” he said.

“He’ll be good to us, because he’s a pretty solid horse without any material problems.”