Art Collector runs down Defunded to win $3-million Pegasus World Cup
Art Collector made his way into the mainstream of horse racing after winning the Blue Grass Stakes in 2020. He was creating buzz heading into the Kentucky Derby, which was being run on Sept. 5 because of the pandemic. Then a minor foot injury sidelined him and he had to wait for the Preakness Stakes 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. Yet he never had that career-defining big win.
It all changed Saturday when the 15-1 longshot ran solidly and confidently in the stretch to win the $3-million Pegasus World Cup at Gulfstream Park.
Defunded passed early leader Stilleto Boy midway down the backstretch. Art Collector was in third but well positioned on the outside. Down the stretch Defunded was clearly second best and Art Collector blew past him to win by 4 ½ lengths.
“We scripted it that way and it turned out that way,” said winning trainer Bill Mott. “That doesn’t happen very often but [jockey] Junior [Alvarado] rode him and did a great job. … These are competitive races. You get the horse as good as you can and hope the horse shows up.”
It was the first time that Alvarado had ridden 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 gets any better than this,” Alvarado said. “It’s unbelievable having this win with Mott. I’m very grateful for the big support he’s given me over the years. I’m just very happy right now.”
Art Collector paid $33.00, $12.40 and $8.60. Defunded was 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 at Santa Anita.
“I’m very pleased with how he ran,” said Jimmy Barnes of Defunded. Barnes is the chief assistant for trainer Bob Baffert, who was at Oaklawn Park watching 3-year-old Arabian Knight win the $750,000 Southwest Stakes.
“He went through the paddock well, went to gate well and pretty much did what he needed to do,” Barnes said. “He just got beat by a good horse. Art Collector is a seasoned veteran. Other than winning the race, second is good enough for me.”
The 1 1/8-mile race was thought to be a crowning sendoff for Cyberknife, the 2-1 favorite, who won two Grade 1 races last year. Yet he never fired Saturday and finished a disappointing sixth. He is immediately headed to Spendthrift Farm in Lexington, Ky., where he will stand as a stallion.
“He broke well but they got away from him,” trainer Brad Cox said. “It wasn’t to be. It didn’t work out.”
A Southern California-based horse did win one of the three big races on Saturday. Queen Goddess, winner of the Robert J. Frankel and Santa Ana Stakes at Santa Anita, came from just off the pace to take the lead on the far turn and held on down the stretch to win the $500,000 Pegasus Filly and Mare Turf by 1 ½ lengths.
The Michael McCarthy trainee ran a lot farther than most of the horses in the 1 1/16-mile race. She was parked three wide for most of the race and had enough left to hold off Shantisara. Queen Goddess paid $10.40 to win.
“We knew she had a lot of speed, but inside they had speed, too,” said jockey Saez. “So the plan was to follow the speed 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-wide bid down the stretch 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 a competitive fifth.
For the next four months, most of the attention will shift away from older horses to the 3-year-olds, all hoping to qualify for the Kentucky Derby.
This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.