Under-the-radar Kentucky Derby contenders, volume 20

June 15th, 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

It’s pretty uncommon to see a horse sprint the final five-sixteenths of a 1 1/16-mile dirt race in less than :30 seconds, but that is exactly what Art Collector did in an optional-claiming allowance Saturday at Churchill Downs.

After he carved out fractions of :24.59, :48.43, and 1:12.46, the son of Bernardini unleashed a freakish burst of acceleration. He roared through the fourth quarter in :23.07 and the last sixteenth in :05.82 (final five-sixteenths in :28.89) to pull away under a hand ride and dominate by 6 1/2 lengths.

Art Collector hit the finish line in the snappy time of 1:41.35, which missed the track record by just 0.31 seconds. Though he beat just three rivals, one of his foes was the accomplished Finnick the Fierce, runner-up in the 2019 Kentucky Jockey Club (G2) and most recently third in the tough second division of the Arkansas Derby (G1).

Trained by Thomas Drury for owner Bruce Lunsford, Art Collector has crossed the wire first in three of his four runs on dirt and is 2-for-2 this season. His first win of the year came when he dominated an allowance sprint at Churchill on May 17.

Produced by the Distorted Humor mare Distorted Legacy, runner-up in the 2011 Flower Bowl Invitational (G1) running 1 1/4 miles, Art Collector is bred to handle classic distances and has the potential to develop into a monster over the summer. His powerful finish at Churchill Downs could be a sign of very big things to come.

Man in the Can

Two months ago, when Man in the Can rallied to win the 6-furlong Rainbow S. against fellow Arkansas-bred 3-year-olds at Oaklawn Park, he appeared to be a promising state-bred sprinter and nothing more. But then the Ron Moquett trainee stretched out to 1 1/16 miles and beat older Arkansas-breds in the 1 1/16-mile Arkansas Breeders’ Champions S., and suddenly his profile took on a different feel.

Man in the Can accelerated his transformation in a 1 1/8-mile allowance against open 3-year-olds Friday at Churchill Downs. After he settled in mid-pack, through fractions of :23.27, :47.77, and 1:12.48, the son of Can the Man rallied strongly down the lane and sprinted the final 3 furlongs in approximately :36 4/5 to win by 1 1/2 lengths in 1:49.74.

Now proven against a quality field of sophomores over the home track of the Kentucky Derby, Man in the Can will attempt to join the Derby trail with a strong showing in the July 11 Blue Grass (G2) at Keeneland, a Road to the Kentucky Derby prep race that offers 100 qualification points to the winner.