LEXINGTON, Ky. (KEENELAND) – Bruce Lunsford’s homebred Art Collector roared past the filly Swiss Skydiver at the eighth pole and drew off to a 3½-length victory Saturday afternoon in the 96th running of the $600,000 Toyota Blue Grass (G2) for 3-year-olds.
Trained by Tom Drury Jr. and ridden by Brian Hernandez Jr., Art Collector picked up 100 qualifying points toward the $3 million Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve (G1) to be run Sept. 5 at Churchill Downs. With Saturday’s victory, Art Collector has 100 points, good for fourth place on the leaderboard. The Kentucky Derby is limited to the top 20 point earners that pass the entry box.
The victory was the first in the Toyota Blue Grass for Hernandez and the first graded stakes win for Drury.
Swiss Skydiver, who is the runaway leader in points for the Kentucky Oaks (G1), picked up 40 points in her first race against males. That total matches Toyota Blue Grass third-place finisher Rushie, who is not Triple Crown nominated. Enforceable picked up 10 points for finishing fourth to boost his total to 43, good for 12th place.
Breaking from post one, Shivaree shot to the early lead with slight favorite Swiss Skydiver and Art Collector in closest pursuit. Under Mike Smith, Swiss Skydiver moved to the lead midway down the backstretch with Art Collector following right behind.
The two leaders quickly opened daylight on the rest of the field, dueled on even terms through the top of the stretch before Art Collector drew clear. Art Collector covered the 1 1/8 miles on a fast main track in 1:48.11.
The victory was worth $360,000 and increased Art Collector’s earnings to $548,475 with a record of 8-4-1-0. Art Collector is a Kentucky-bred son of Bernardini out of the Distorted Humor mare Distorted Legacy.
Art Collector paid $6.60, $4 and $3.20. Swiss Skydiver returned $4.20 and $3.40 with Rushie finishing another 4¾ lengths back in third under Javier Castellano and paying $4 to show.
It was another neck back to Enforceable, who was followed in order by Attachment Rate, Mr. Big News, Finnick the Fierce, Tiesto, Hard Lighting, Basin, Shivaree, Hunt the Front and Man in the Can.