In a powerful performance leaving no doubt about his superiority, Art Collector reiterated his affinity for the bullring oval at Charles Town by cruising to a second consecutive victory in the $1 million Charles Town Classic (G2).
The feature race on a stakes-packed Friday evening at Charles Town drew eight starters, with Art Collector favored at odds of 1-2 off a victory in the Alydar S. at Saratoga. Art Collector used a 2021 Alydar triumph as a springboard to his first Charles Town Classic success, and the five-year-old son of Bernardini repeated the double in 2022.
Luis Saez rode the Bruce Lunsford homebred for trainer Bill Mott, sending Art Collector straight to the lead through fractions of :24.46, :48.70, and 1:13.16 while closely pressed by undefeated local star Muad’dib, who brought a perfect 10-for-10 record into the Charles Town Classic.
Muad’dib exceeded expectations as a 12-1 longshot, sticking with Art Collector for six furlongs before holding off all others to finish second in the 1 1/8-mile event. But Art Collector had the race to the winner’s circle measured on the final turn, kicking away with authority to score by 4 1/4 lengths in 1:51.30.
Multiple Grade 1 winner Mind Control rallied to finish third, a neck behind Muad’dib and a neck clear of Officiating. Last Samurai, Jalen Journey, Plot the Dots, and Treasure Trove completed the order of finish.
The 2022 Charles Town Classic marked Art Collector’s seventh stakes win and fourth graded success from 19 starts, good for earnings of $2,317.610. In 2021, Art Collector followed up his Alydar/Charles Town Classic double with a career-defining victory in the Woodward S. (G1) at Belmont Park, and a similar path could certainly be in the cards for 2022.
The Charles Town Classic wasn’t the only graded stakes taking place on Friday at Charles Town. The feature event was preceded by the $500,000 Charles Town Oaks (G3) for three-year-old fillies, in which Society blew her rivals apart with an eye-catching performance.
Exiting a fourth-place finish against tougher competition in the Coaching Club American Oaks (G1) at Saratoga, Society relished dropping in class for the Charles Town Oaks. Favored at 7-5 under jockey Tyler Gaffalione, the Steve Asmussen trainee dashed to the lead through splits of :23.28 and :46.54, then triumphantly kicked away to win the seven-furlong sprint by 6 3/4 lengths in 1:23.42.
Free Like a Girl, Midnight Stroll, Divine Huntress, Chardonnay, Peachy Weachy, Stellar Ride, and She’s Pure Silver completed the order of finish, but none could keep pace with Society, whose record now stands at four wins (two of them stakes) from five starts for owner/breeder Peter E. Blum Thoroughbreds.