Art Collector runs down Defunded to win Pegasus World Cup

Art Collector made his way into the horse racing mainstream after winning the Blue Grass Stakes in 2020. He caused a stir en route to the Kentucky Derby, which was held on September 5 because of the pandemic. He then had to wait for the Preakness Stakes due to a minor foot injury and finished fourth.

Since then, the now 6-year-old has won his share of races, five to be exact, including the Grade 1 Woodward Stakes at Belmont Park. Still, he never had that career-defining big win.

Everything changed on Saturday as the 15-1 longshot ran solidly and confidently down the track to win the $3 million Pegasus World Cup at Gulfstream Park.

Defunded passed early leader Stilleto Boy midway down the backstretch. Art Collector was third, but positioned well on the outside. On the stretch, Defunded was clearly second best and Art Collector passed him to win by 4½ lengths.

“We wrote it that way and it turned out that way,” said winning coach Bill Mott. “It doesn’t happen often, though [jockey] Junior [Alvarado] rode him and did a great job. … These are competitive races. You get the horse as best you can and hope the horse shows up.”

It was Alvarado’s first time riding the horse, with Luis Saez being his regular jockey. But Saez chose to ride Get Her Number for trainer Peter Miller.

“I don’t know how it can get any better,” Alvarado said. “To have this win with Mott is incredible. I am very grateful for the great support he has given me over the years. I’m very happy right now.”

Art Collector paid $33.00, $12.40 and $8.60. Defunded finished second, followed by Stilleto Boy, Last Samurai, Proxy, Cyberknife, Skippylongstocking, White Abarrio, Get Her Number, Simplification, O’Connor, and Ridin With Biden. Defunded, Stilleto Boy and Get Her Number are all based in Santa Anita.

“I’m really happy with how it went,” said Defunded’s Jimmy Barnes. Barnes is the chief assistant to trainer Bob Baffert, who watched the 3-year-old Arabian Knight win the $750,000 Southwest Stakes at Oaklawn Park.

“He got through the paddock well, walked to the gate well and pretty much did what he had to do,” Barnes said. “He was just beaten by a good horse. Art Collector is a seasoned veteran. Aside from winning the race, second place is enough for me.”

The 1 1/8 mile race was seen as the crowning farewell to Cyberknife, the 2-1 favorite who won two Class 1 races last year. Despite this, he never fired on Saturday and finished a disappointing sixth. He will be taken immediately to Spendthrift Farm in Lexington, Kentucky where he will stand as a stallion.

“He broke well but they got away from him,” said coach Brad Cox. “It should not be. It did not work.”

Art Collector owner Bruce Lunsford, left in blazer, celebrates with the winners.

Art Collector owner Bruce Lunsford, left in blazer, celebrates in the winners circle after the horse’s victory in Saturday’s Pegasus World Cup.

(Lynne Sladky/Associated Press)

A Southern California horse won one of the Big Three races on Saturday. Queen Goddess, winner of the Robert J. Frankel and Santa Ana Stakes at Santa Anita, sped off the pace to take the lead on the long corner and held down the track to take the $500,000 Pegasus Filly and Mare Turf in 1 ½ to gain lengths.

Michael McCarthy’s apprentice ran much further than most horses in the 1 1/16 mile race. She was parked in threes for most of the race and had enough left over to stop Shantisara. Queen Goddess paid $10.40 to win.

“We knew she was very fast, but they had speed on the inside too,” said jockey Saez. “So the plan was to follow the pace and be right behind and everything went according to plan. It was perfect.”

Atone won the 1 1/8 mile $1 million Pegasus Turf Invitational with a seven-way bid on the course to beat Ivar by three-quarters of a length. He paid $9.60 to win. One More Bid, who won the Mathis Mile on opening day at Santa Anita, finished in a competitive fifth place.

Over the next four months, most of the attention will shift from the older horses to the three-year-olds, all hoping to qualify for the Kentucky Derby. Art Collector runs down Defunded to win Pegasus World Cup

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