It’s safe to say Art Collector is back in a big way, with a comfortable victory in the $800,000 Charles Town Classic (G2) on Friday night at Charles Town serving as the latest testament to his talent.
Victorious in the 2020 Blue Grass S. (G2) over future champion filly Swiss Skydiver, Art Collector went off form after missing the 2020 Kentucky Derby (G1) with a minor setback, losing three straight races (including his 2021 debut) by wide margins.
But the four-year-old son of Bernardini turned things around with a front-running victory in the Aug. 6 Alydar S. at Saratoga, and he was just as sharp while running back 19 days later in the Charles Town Classic. With jockey Luis Saez in the saddle for Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott, Art Collector enjoyed a perfect trip in his return to graded stakes company, tracking defending Charles Town Classic winner Sleepy Eyes Todd through casual splits of :23.80, :47.90, and 1:12.40.
In the end, the Charles Town Classic could have been a match race. Sleepy Eyes Todd and Art Collector began to pull away from the pack in the final three furlongs, with Art Collector carrying the most momentum. The 13-10 favorite put his head in front at the eighth pole and gradually edged away to beat Sleepy Eyes Todd by 1 1/2 lengths, with the rest of the field another four lengths behind.
California shippers Rushie and Restrainedvengence rounded out the top four, followed by Noble Drama, Ny Traffic, Informative, Bourbon Calling, Warrior’s Charge, and Air Token. The snappy final time of 1:49.39 missed the track record for 1 1/8 miles by just 0.58.
Owned and bred by Bruce Lunsford, Art Collector now boasts a 14-7-1-0 career record with earnings of $1,260.305. A jump into Grade 1 company could certainly be on the horizon for the talented bay colt.
Earlier in the evening, the undefeated three-year-old filly R Adios Jersey brought her record to a perfect 5-for-5 with a confident victory in the Charles Town Oaks (G3). Unraced since winning the Stonehedge Farm South Sophomore Fillies S. at Tampa Bay Downs in March, R Adios Jersey showed no signs of rust off the layoff, carving out fractions of :22.24 and :46.27 before edging away to win the seven-furlong sprint by 3 1/4 lengths in 1:24.37.
Kentucky Oaks (G1) alumni Pauline’s Pearl rallied for second place, while Allworthy and 7-10 favorite Caramel Swirl completed the superfecta. Paco Lopez rode the winner, a daughter of Adios Charlie trained by Georgina Baxter on behalf of Averill Racing and ATM Racing.