Under the radar Kentucky Derby contenders, volume 17

May 25th, 2020

A weekly look at under the radar 3-year-olds who could step up and make an impact on the Road to the 2020 Kentucky Derby.

Art Collector: While Art Collector showed flashes of talent as a juvenile, the son of Bernardini elevated his game to a new level in his 3-year-old debut on May 17 at Churchill Downs. Facing 10 talented rivals in a 7-furlong allowance optional claiming race, Art Collector rated toward the back of the pack as the leaders carved out fractions of :21.88 and :44.93, then swept to the front with authority late in the homestretch. By the time Art Collector crossed the finish line in 1:22.65, he’d opened up 2 3/4 lengths on the graded stakes-placed Road to the Kentucky Derby veterans Toledo and Wrecking Crew.

Bred and owned by Bruce Lunsford, Art Collector has won races on both dirt and turf, but sticking to the main track is almost certainly in the immediate future for this Triple Crown nominee. Produced by the Distorted Humor mare Distorted Legacy, Art Collector has the pedigree to stretch out around two turns for trainer Thomas Drury and figures to be bound for stakes company in the near future.

Collusion Illusion: Sold for $300,000 as a 2-year-old, Collusion Illusion showed plenty of promise as a juvenile, winning his debut sprinting at Del Mar before rallying to a comfortable success in the Best Pal (G2). He failed to finish the American Pharoah (G1) and went to the sidelines immediately afterward, but the son of Twirling Candy returned a winner on May 17 at Santa Anita, showing no signs of rust in his first run of the season.

Indeed, Collusion Illusion seemed sharper than ever. Negotiating 6 furlongs against older rivals in an allowance optional claiming race, Collusion settled off the pace through fractions of :22.08 and :45.23, then sprinted to the front down the lane, pulling clear through a sharp :12.39 final furlong to score by three lengths in 1:10.03.

Conditioned by Mark Glatt on behalf of Dan J. Agnew, Rodney E. Orr, Jerry Schneider, and John V. Xitco, Collusion Illusion was bred in Florida by Donald R. Dizney. Produced by the First Dude mare Natalie Grace, Collusion Illusion’s pedigree harbors hope for success running long, making the colt an intriguing new face on the Road to the Kentucky Derby.

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