Art Collector, one of last year’s most heralded 3-year-olds, will make his 4-year-old debut in the Black-Type Kelly’s Landing Overnight Stakes at Churchill Downs.
The June 25 Kelly’s Landing is one of eight stakes on Churchill Downs’ closing weekend for its Spring Meet. It sends its competitors seven furlongs on dirt, which gives Art Collector a reasonably soft landing for his first race since last November.
That was his disappointing eighth in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile at Keeneland. Art Collector opened that race in the mix. He was third through a half-mile, only 3 ½ lengths behind pace-setting Knicks Go. But the insane fractions Knicks Go reeled off – a 21.98-second quarter-mile and 44.4-second half-mile — left Art Collector a speed casualty. He faded to sixth by the three-quarters pole and eighth at the wire, 9 ¼ lengths back.
That came barely a month after Art Collector finished fourth in the Preakness Stakes, 10 ½ lengths behind Swiss Skydiver and Authentic.
Art Collector took six months off to rest, recharge
After the Dirt Mile, owner Bruce Lunsford sent Art Collector to a South Carolina farm for some R&R. He returned to Churchill Downs in May, putting in four workouts since May 22. The last one came on Sunday, a 50.6-second four-furlong jaunt on turf. The one prior to that, a five-furlong dirt trip, produced a 59.4-second bullet that was the fastest of the 22 horses running that distance that day.
“He has some turf in his pedigree and actually broke his maiden on the grass,” trainer Tommy Drury told Churchill Downs. “Today’s work was just to keep our options open. We’re going to target the seven-furlong Kelly’s Landing on dirt as his comeback race and take things from there. We’re very fortunate to have a horse like this in our barn. He’s shown his talent last year and we’re very excited for what’s ahead this year.”
Art Collector took a four-race winning streak into that Oct. 3 Preakness last year. He opened 2020 winning two allowance optional claiming races, then captured the Grade 2 Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland and the Ellis Park Derby.
The son of Bernardini broke his maiden on the Kentucky Downs turf in September 2019. He’s won five times and finished second in 11 career races, good for $737,380 in career earnings.