August 26th marked the 14th annual Grade II Charles Town Classic held at Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races. The 1 1/8-mile race was won by a 5-year-old Bernardini horse, Art Collector, for the second time in a row. The $1 million Charles Town Classic ended in the 1-2 favorite, Art Collector, winning by 4-1/4 lengths.
Last year, Art Collector took the top prize of $800,000 during the Charles Town Classic, finishing only 2 seconds faster than this year’s performance. The race at Charles Town last month marks the fifth 1st place finish with jockey Luis Saez. Art Collector and Saez have been racing together since their first-place finish at the Alydar Stakes last August in Saratoga. This year’s finish at the Charles Town Classic ended with Art Collector winning $588,055 of the total purse.
Trainer Bill Mott expected the horse to put up a fight heading into the race this year, stating, “He is coming off a good race, he is coming off a win. He was sharp in victory here and looked good. If he repeats that race, he is going to be tough.”
Art Collector jumped out of the gate just ahead of Charles Town-based Muad’dib. Muad’dib managed to maintain his second position throughout the race but eventually lost steam, widening the gap between the two horses near the middle of turn three.
Mind Control finished third due to a stumble at the start that resulted in the horse finding himself in second to last. The horse was the only other Grade 1 winner in the competitor field other than Art Collector. Mind Control managed to come all the way from behind to finish 3rd just behind Muad’dib.
Art Collector’s recent win brings the homebred’s career winnings to $2,317,610. Almost $1 million of the horse’s winnings comes from his consecutive Charles Town Classic wins.
“I was almost a little surprised that Art Collector was on the lead,” stated Mott. “I mean, he broke like a rocket tonight, and he was there, so Luis took advantage of it. We thought it was a good possibility that two horses inside of us would show speed, and it was the hometown horse that showed all the speed . . . He hung in there with us and finished up the race very well. So it was a good race for him. He was 10-for-10 coming into the race. If you win 10 in a row, you’re a good horse. And we were able to beat him tonight,” referring to Muad’dib’s ten consecutive 1st place finishes leading up to the event.
Several horses that raced the Grade I Saudi Cup in February of this year were stranded for nearly a month in Riyadh. Art Collector was among one of the dozen or so horses stranded due to worldwide transportation issues. The month of training lost was a challenge owner Bruce Lunsford was aware of heading into the race last month. “We recovered from a tough trip earlier, and we took that on, and Bill has great patience, the best I’ve ever seen,” said Lunsford. “This turned out to be a horse that’s kinda sexy. I like the horse, you know? He’s just special.”
There is no definite plan for where we’ll see Art Collector next. Trainer Bill Mott didn’t give any idea as to where their next stop was.
“Well, we’ve got to talk about that,” said Mott. “I mean, we’ve got several options. You think about the races that are in the next sequence of things. You’ve got the Clark Stakes (G1). You’ve got the Woodward. You’ve got the Breeders’ Cup. So those are all things that we’re going to have the enjoyment of talking about. That’s the fun of it, trying to make the right move.”
Mac Daniel is a South Carolina-based freelance writer for PlayOnlineCasino and PlayOnlineSportsBetting. He has experience writing about a wide variety of topics, including healthcare, tourism, non-profit organizations, and most recently casino and sportsbetting news. To check out more of his work, visit www.playonlinecasinomi.com or www.playonlinesportsbetting.com