BALTIMORE — Trainer Tommy Drury and Art Collector get another chance at Triple Crown glory this weekend.
Drury will start his first horse in a Triple Crown race when he saddles Art Collector in Saturday’s Preakness, which will be the final leg of the Triple Crown for the first time in its 145-year history. And now that Drury’s wait is over, Art Collector looks like the biggest threat to Kentucky Derby winner Authentic at a mostly empty Pimlico Race Course.
Drury was poised to make his Triple Crown debut at the Kentucky Derby until he discovered something was wrong with Art Collector, arguably the best horse he has had in his barn. Drury made the difficult decision to scratch him, a move he called a no-brainer.
“The Kentucky Derby’s a race of a lifetime for a horse trainer, but at the end of the day, the ultimate responsibility that we have is to put our horse first,” Drury said. “It just wouldn’t have been fair to him to leave him over there, especially at that level of competition, and ask him to run his very best race knowing that there was an issue going on.”
Now, Art Collector is set to race — four weeks after Drury took no risks with his impressive colt.
“We’re certainly going to stand by that decision, and there’s no looking back at this point,” Drury said. “We’re focused on the Preakness and what we can do down the road. … Our horse is good right now, and we’re ready to take our best shot.”
Art Collector is the 5-2 second choice on the morning like after 9-5 favorite Authentic, who if he wins would make trainer Bob Baffert a perfect 6 for 6 taking the Derby winner to the Preakness. There will be no fans in attendance, only select owners, trainers and other essential personnel because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Nonetheless, Baffert, who also has Thousand Words in the 11-horse field, is looking for his record-breaking eighth Preakness victory.
Baffert and Drury shared a golf cart ride at Churchill Downs before the Derby, and that’s about all they share. The two had never met before, and while Baffert has swept the Triple Crown twice and won 16 races in the series, Drury has never even started a horse in a Triple Crown race until now.
Art Collector, a popular pick to win the Derby before getting scratched, is finally putting Drury in the spotlight after more than 30 years in the business.
“He’s taken my career to places that I never dreamed it would go, and he’s just a member of the family,” Drury said. “I’ve not had anything like him ever before.”
Art Collector’s performance in a race at Churchill Downs in June caught Eddie Olczyk’s eye.
“He just looked like a monster,” said Olczyk, an NBC Sports analyst and former Pittsburgh Penguins player and coach who questioned why former trainer Joe Sharp didn’t try Art Collector in two-turn races on the dirt last year. “I just think, for me, what has happened is this horse is running the distance and running on the surface that he was bred to run on. I think the sky’s the limit for this horse.”
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