Olympiad streaks into G1 Whitney
SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – Bruce Lunsford’s Kentucky homebred Art Collector returned from a five-month layoff in style, garnering a 101 Beyer Speed Figure while defending his title in the $135,000 Alydar at Saratoga Race Course.
Trained by Hall of Famer Bill Mott, the 5-year-old Bernardini horse entered the restricted nine-furlong test for older horses from an off-the-board effort over a tiring track in the Group 1 Saudi Cup on February 26 at King Abdulaziz Race Course.
Luis Saez guided Art Collector to the point from post 4 and maintained a moderate tempo through three-quarters in 1:13.77 with Masqueparade on his flank. Art Collector was travelling comfortably through the turn and opened up a 2 1/2-length advantage at the stretch call, finding the wire in hand for a two-length score in a final time of 1:51.84.
Mott said he was pleased with the return to form by Art Collector, who ended his 2021 campaign with a sixth-place effort in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Classic in November at Del Mar.
“The last two weren’t his best races, so it was nice to see him come back,” Mott said. “He looked great this morning.”
Art Collector will now look for another title defense on August 26 in the Grade 2 Charles Town Classic, a race he won last year by 1 1/2-lengths with a prominent effort.
“We’ll go to Charles Town next,” Mott said. “One race at a time. We don’t want to get too far ahead of ourselves.”
Grandview Equine, Cheyenne Stable and LNJ Foxwoods’ Olympiad brings a five-race win streak – the last four in graded events – into Saturday’s Grade 1, $1 million Whitney, a nine-furlong test for older horses offering a “Win and You’re In” berth to the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Classic.
The 4-year-old Speightstown colt will square off against Life Is Good, last year’s Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile champ, for the first time. Olympiad has tracked in second and drew off in each of last five wins and Mott said he is looking forward to the challenge on Saturday.
“Every race and every situation is new and different. You can never compare two races – they’re never identical. That’s the interesting thing about horse racing,” Mott said. “We’re facing a horse called Life Is Good which is a good horse. He’s accomplished and very fast, we know that. It’s a matter of who is going to be the best when they come down to the wire.”
The Mott-trained Speaker’s Corner, winner of the Grade 1 Carter Handicap in April at Aqueduct Racetrack, finished second to Life Is Good last out in the Grade 2 John A. Nerud in July at Belmont on the heels of a third-place finish to the undefeated Flightline in the Grade 1 Hill ‘n’ Dale Metropolitan Handicap in June.
Mott said he is relishing a chance to see Olympiad take on some of the top older horses in the country on Saturday, including Life Is Good and Grade 1-winner Hot Rod Charlie. Saturday’s challenge will mark Olympiad’s second foray in a Grade 1 following his fourth-place finish to Whitney-rival Americanrevolution in the Cigar Mile Handicap in December at the Big A.
“You never know how good you are until you try the best, so I guess it’s time to step up to the plate. He’s 5-for-5 this year and we’ve got to take them on,” Mott said. “Everybody is talking about Life Is Good and Flightline and they’re great horses, but the only way we can reverse that conversation and get included in that conversation is by running against them.”
Olympiad will exit post 4 in the Whitney under regular pilot Junior Alvarado.
Mott will saddle George Krikorian’s War Like Goddess and Juddmonte Farm’s British homebred Petricor in Saturday’s Grade 2, $250,000 Glens Falls, a 12-furlong inner turf test for older fillies and mares.
War Like Goddess, a 5-year-old English Channel mare, was a decisive winner of this event last year with a trademark last-to-first brush. She attended closer to the pace last out in the 12-furlong Grade 3 Bewitch on April 29 at Keeneland in which Breeze Rider loped through splits of 53.77 and 1:19.88 before Joel Rosario gave War Like Goddess her cue and split rivals at the eighth pole en route to a 1 3/4-length score.
“She’s fast. When she turns it on turning for home, she’s got a good turn of foot and that’s what it takes to be a good turf horse,” Mott said. “You have to be able to sprint for three-sixteenths of a mile or a quarter of a mile and she’s shown the ability to do that. An honest pace will always help but she’s adapted. Keeneland was probably the slowest pace I’ve ever seen in a graded stakes race, and she was able to overcome that.”
Petricor launched her career in France with trainer Andre Fabre, graduating in her August 2020 debut at Deauville before running a close second in the Group 3 Prix Vanteaux in April 2021 at Longchamp. She made a winning debut for Mott in April traveling 1 1/16-miles in a Keeneland allowance but was off-the-board in her most recent two starts, while traveling well late on.
“We’ve tried to run her at shorter distances which hasn’t worked out, and I think we just felt it was time to try her at this distance and see where she fits in,” Mott said. “She’s a nice filly and she should be a contender in the race.”
Petricor, a 4-year-old daughter of Frankel, is out of the Dansili mare Ruscombe, who is a half-sister to Brian Boru, who won the 2003 Group 1 St. Leger at Doncaster: and Sea Moon, a multiple Group 2 winner.
War Like Goddess will leave post 6 in rein to Rosario, while Jose Ortiz picks up the mount on Petricor from post 3.
LRE Racing and JEH Racing Stable’s Casa Creed, winner of the Grade 1 Jaipur last out on June 11 at Belmont, will breeze Sunday over the Oklahoma training turf in preparation for his third attempt in the Grade 1, $500,000 Fourstardave on August 13 which offers a “Win and You’re In” berth to the Breeders’ Cup Mile in November at Keeneland. The 6-year-old Jimmy Creed bay finished third in both 2020-21.
NYRA Press Office
Photo of Art Collector by NYRA/Coglianese