(Art Collector wins the Alydar Stakes at Saratoga / NYRA Photo)

From the NYRA Media Team:

Bruce Lunsford’s Kentucky homebred Art Collector proved to be too much for his four rivals as he successfully defended his title in the $135,000 Alydar, a nine-furlong test for older horses who have not won a stakes other than state-bred in 2022, at Saratoga Race Course.

Trained by Hall of Famer Bill Mott, Art Collector has been on quite a journey since the last time he won the Alydar, making trips to West Virginia, California and a last out trip to Saudi Arabia in February when off-the-board in the Group 1 Saudi Cup before ultimately returning to the scene of his 3 1/2-length score last year.

Trainer Bill Mott — Art Collector (1st):

Mott, who scored his first stakes win of the meet, said the effort was just what he hoped to see.

“He’s fine with the distance, he likes the track and it was a good comeback race for him since he hasn’t been out since February,” said Mott.

Art Collector has shown versatility in his nine wins and has won from off the pace as well as on the lead. Mott said he was prepared for a potential challenge up front.

“We thought maybe if the outside horse [Masqueparade] wanted to go to the lead, we’d let him go and we’d have a target,” said Mott. “But as it worked out, he was on the lead by himself. It looked like he was going easily enough and it looked like every time that horse ran to him, he just maintained the same advantage.”

Art Collector used his previous Alydar win as a springboard to graded stakes success in the Grade 2 Charles Town Classic and Grade 1 Woodward later that fall at Belmont Park. Mott said it is likely he will continue on to defend his titles in those races as well on August 26 at Charles Town and October 1 at Aqueduct Racetrack, respectively.

“We might go to Charles Town, back in the Woodward. Short term, we’re definitely thinking of going to the Charles Town Classic with him,” said Mott. “That could change, I’ll talk to Bruce and see what he wants to do. He was excited to go there last year, he might want to go back.”

Jockey Luis Saez — Art Collector:

Saez echoed Mott’s sentiments.

“He’s a pretty cool horse to ride. He’s pretty smart,” Saez said. “He broke and controlled the pace. He switched leads at the point he’s supposed to by himself, and he did everything beautiful. My plan was to break from there and if he took the lead I know he’s pretty fast, so if he gets the lead we’ll take it. If not, we’ll track somebody. He’s a horse that you can ride any way you break.”

Owner Bruce Lunsford — Art Collector: 

Lunsford and Mott have shared some memorable moments together, including a close second in the 1999 Belmont Stakes with his homebred Vision and Verse. Lunsford went on to own and breed a graded stakes-placed half-sister to Vision and Verse named Distorted Legacy, who produced Art Collector.

“He is a special horse. I love the horse. I love his rider,” said Lunsford. “Luis and I go way back with his ex-agent [Richard DePass] and his current agent Kiaran [McLaughlin]. It’s just a great thrill for me to have a horse of this quality and the brothers and sisters and the mother.

“Bill and I go way back. We were together in the Belmont Stakes. I’m watching it with him, and I said, ‘We’re going to win, we’re going to win.’ But he barely got beat, it was a lot of fun,” Lunsford added as he recalled Vision and Verse.

Art Collector increased his total purse earnings to $1,729,555 and improved his record to 18-9-1-0. He returned $3.60 for a $2 win wager as the 4-5 post time favorite.

Jockey Joel Rosario — Masqueparade (2nd):

Rosario said Masqueparade did his best behind the slow fractions set by Art Collector.

“The trip was good. It was a little on the slow side at the beginning and I had to get after him a bit to get him going,” said Rosario. “The horse in front was going easy. He ran his race.”