Blue Grass (G2) winner Art Collector was bet down to 2-5 favoritism in his final Kentucky Derby (G1) tune-up, Sunday’s $193,750 Ellis Park Derby, and the Bruce Lunsford homebred took care of business on the front end.
Trainer Thomas Drury had managed expectations going into his Ellis Park venture, noting that this was a means to an end. But Art Collector’s class, and tactical speed, ensured that he was still comfortably the best.
Breaking alertly with regular rider Brian Hernandez, the son of Bernardini found himself on the early lead from post 4 and went with it. Art Collector was attended by 165-1 shot Truculent through fractions of :23.33 and :46.74. When the longshot bowed out, the stalking Dean Martini and Attachment Rate drew up to prompt the issue at the 6-furlong mark in 1:10.70.
Then Art Collector kicked away turning into the stretch and widened his margin to 3 1/4 lengths. His time for 1 1/8 miles, 1:48.02, was just a couple of ticks off the track record of 1:47.60 set by Lt. Lao in 1988.
Adding 50 Derby points to his tally of 100 from the Blue Grass, Art Collector’s 150-point tally is good for third on the leaderboard behind Tiz the Law (372 points) and Authentic (200).
Runner-up Attachment Rate, who stayed on valiantly despite taking the overland route throughout, banked 20 points. With 35 points in all, Attachment Rate is 18th on the list pending the final scoring race, Saturday’s Pegasus Stakes at Monmouth.
Another 5 1/4 lengths back in third came Necker Island, whose 10 points lifted his total to 14. Rowdy Yates, who earned 5 points for fourth, has 7 overall.
Shared Sense, the 6-1 second choice, had a tall task trying to rally from last from post 12 and managed to get up for fifth. Dean Martini, Winning Impression, Anneau d’Or, Sprawl, Trident Hit, Little Menace, and the tailed-off Truculent rounded out the order under the wire. The also-eligible Rogue Element stayed in the barn.
Art Collector extended his record to a perfect 4-for-4 since joining Drury early this year. Previously in the care of Joe Sharp, the bay has bankrolled $664,380 from a 9-5-1-0 line.
Kentucky-bred Art Collector is out of Grade 1-placed stakes vixen Distorted Legacy, a Distorted Humor half-sister to Grade 2-winning millionaire Vision and Verse, who just missed in the 1999 Belmont (G1). This is the family of 2015 Breeders’ Cup Distaff (G1) scorer Stopchargingmaria, Canadian champion Ginger Brew, Eclipse Award champion Yanks Music, and further back, Buckaroo, Hatchet Man, and Stop the Music.
Sire Bernardini was scoring a back-to-back stakes double, with his Lady Kate wiring the $100,000 Groupie Doll Stakes one race prior. Trained by Eddie Kenneally and ridden by Florent Geroux, the 4-1 chance romped by 4 3/4 lengths over New Roo and Istan Council. Street Band, the 19-10 favorite, wound up sixth in a race that trainer Larry Jones said she needed.
Anderson Stables’ Lady Kate was registering her first stakes victory. Runner-up in last year’s Suncoast to Point of Honor, the daughter of Grade 2 winner Princess Haya sports a mark of 11-5-2-0, $249,470.
Geroux’s most resounding win on the card came aboard the Brad Cox-trained Mundaye Call, who might have run herself into the Kentucky Oaks (G1) with a track-record performance in the $98,667 Audubon Oaks.
While it would be pushing it to compare her to another pricey daughter of Into Mischief, presumptive Oaks favorite Gamine, Mundaye Call did something of an impersonation by reeling off splits of :22.25, :45.11, and 1:08.92 en route to clocking 1:21.17. That shaved .20 off the 7-furlong track mark held by Josh’s Madelyn since Sept. 5, 2004.
Mundaye Call, who opened up by 7 1/4 lengths, took home 10 Oaks points. Ocean Breeze held second by a neck, earning 4 points, and the late-running third, Sconsin, added 2 to improve her tally to 10. Fourth-placer Truth Hurts received 1 point. Casual wound up fifth, and Hello Beautiful, the slight 2-1 favorite over the 2.20-1 Mundaye Call, was last of 11 after a troubled start.
A $950,000 Fasig-Tipton Saratoga yearling purchase by Larry Best’s OXO Equine, Mundaye Call has won three straight since trailing in last summer’s Spinaway (G1). She was coming off a sharp entry-level allowance score at Keeneland in her debut for Cox, and her resume reads 5-3-1-0, $159,360.
Mundaye Call was bred by Three Chimneys Farm in Kentucky. She is a three-quarter sister to Grade 3 hero Can the Man, who is likewise by Into Mischief and a half to Mundaye Call’s dam, Reve d’Amour, by Warrior’s Reward. They were in turn produced by Group 2 vixen Smolensk, a daughter of 1982 Kentucky Oaks star and blue hen Blush with Pride.
Earlier, Sandin Syndicate Stable’s Pico d’Oro rolled two lengths past Medicine Tail to break his maiden in the $100,000 Juvenile Stakes. The William Morey pupil, who had been a troubled second to Medicine Tail here July 19, turned the tables by completing 7 furlongs in 1:23.95. The 9-10 favorite, Cowan, faded to fifth. In a sad postscript, Runhappy’s first winner, Libertyrun, suffered a fatal injury.
Pico d’Oro, a Curlin colt, is out of the Bernardini mare Michelle d’Oro. His second dam is multiple Grade 1 vixen Champagne d’Oro.
In the $99,179 Debutante Stakes, Phoenix Thoroughbred’s Crazy Beautiful burst through on the inside to finish faster than the boys in 1:23.71. Under Rafael Bejarano, the Ken McPeek filly dashed 3 3/4 lengths clear of Mania, with Fabricate third. But she had to survive an objection from jockey James Graham, who contended that the winner interfered with his eventual fourth Xtrema.
An impressive debut winner on the Ellis turf last out, Crazy Beautiful is a daughter of Liam’s Map and the Grade 3-placed stakes scorer Indian Burn, by Indian Charlie.