Art Collector and Junior Alvarado prance off with the blanket of flowers from winner’s circle. (Jetta Vaughns)
David Joseph/Gulfstream Park
HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. – Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott was extremely pleased Sunday morning with the manner in which Bruce Lunsford’s Art Collector exited his 15-1 upset victory in Saturday’s $3 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational (G1) presented by Baccarat.
“He’s happy. He was bright and alert and seemed to be feeling pretty good about himself,” Mott reported from Payson Park in Indiantown, FL.
Art Collector, who had established himself as a solid graded-stakes performer while earning more than $2.3 million in his 20 previous starts, turned in a career-best performance in the 1 1/8-mile Pegasus World Cup, the headliner on a 13-race program also featuring the $1 million Pegasus World Cup Turf Invitational (G1) presented by Qatar Racing and $500,000 TAA Pegasus World Cup Filly & Mare Turf Invitational (G3) presented by Pepsi.
“It’s strange. I knew he was doing well going into the race. I felt like he was training well, but you can’t really predict the outcome in a race like that,” Mott said. “There’s some nice horses in there and you don’t know much about the rest of them. I knew our horse was doing well. Did he exceed expectations? I wouldn’t say that because I didn’t know what to expect.”
Art Collector, who won the 2021 Woodward (G1) and back-to-back Charles Town Classics (G2) on the pace, rated kindly off a contested early pace before making a three-wide sweep to the lead under Junior Alvarado on his way to a 4 ½-length victory.
“We made a conscious decision yesterday to not run him off his feet and see if he could do it that way, and it worked out well. He’s had a good year already,” Mott said.
Plans for Art Collector have not been formalized.
“Anytime you’ve got a well-bred horse that’s a Grade 1 stakes winner, I think going to stud is always an option, and it’s just a matter of timing when you do it. I can’t say what was going on in [Lunsford’s] head. I don’t think that was the first thing that was on his mind though,” Mott said. “I think Bruce kind of entered the new year thinking he enjoys seeing him on the racetrack and I think he was prepared to continue on that route for the rest of the year if things got going well.”
Mott reported that Grade 1 winner Obligatory, who finished a disappointing sixth in the Inside Information (G2) as the 4-5 favorite, ‘seemed fine’ Sunday morning.
“I’m not sure whether they’ll give me another chance to run her back and see if she shows back up. If she doesn’t show back up, she obviously would have to go to the breeding shed,” Mott said. “We can do that anytime with her, being a filly. We have a couple months to make that decision, really. You’d have to kind of be thinking about it by mid-March. We haven’t had that discussion yet, but it was very disappointing [Saturday].
Trainer Saffie Joseph Jr. reported that his three Pegasus entrants exited their respective disappointing efforts in good order.
Skippylongstocking finished seventh, followed by White Abarrio in eighth and O’Connor in 11th.
“They came out of it good. It was a rough day, but we’ll move forward,” Joseph said. “We have nothing really planned. Everything kind of went up in smoke [Saturday}.”