Bruce Lunsford’s Art Collector (Bernardini) exited his win in Saturday’s GI Pegasus World Cup Invitational in fine shape, according to trainer Bill Mott.
“He’s happy. He was bright and alert and seemed to be feeling pretty good about himself,” Mott reported from Payson Park Sunday morning.
Art Collector, winner of the 2021 GI Woodward S., had been a solid stakes performer before his emphatic 4 1/2-length victory in the Pegasus Saturday.
“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.”
Plans for the 6-year-old remain up in the air.
“Anytime you’ve got a well-bred horse that’s a Grade I-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.”
Trainer Mike Maker reported Sunday that Three Diamonds Farm’s Atone (Into Mischief) was also doing well following his breakthrough victory in Saturday’s GI Pegasus World Cup Turf Invitational.
“He came out of it in good order,” Maker said. “It’s impossible not to be impressed by the way he ran.”
Maker mentioned the Mar. 25 GII Muniz Memorial Classic at Fair Grounds and May 6 GI Turf Classic at Churchill Downs as possible upcoming targets for Atone.
Atone capped a huge day at Gulfstream for Maker, who also ran sixth in the Pegasus Turf with 74-1 long shot King Cause (Creative Cause). Earlier in the day, Maker won the GIII Fred W. Hooper with Endorsed (Medaglia d’Oro) and finished first, second, third and fifth in the GIII William L. McKnight led by winner Red Knight (Pure Prize).
On the day, Maker had three wins, one second and two thirds and earned $846,300 in purses. Prior to that he had a record of 29-4-3-4 with $154,615 in purses earned at the Championship Meet, which opened Dec. 26.
“It was a great day,” Maker said. “We were kind of in a slump there and to break out of it in that fashion felt great.”