Just before horsemen prepared to draw post positions for Kentucky Derby 146, one of the top contenders pulled out of the race. Art Collector will not run in Saturday’s Kentucky Derby after suffering a minor foot injury.
“He grabbed himself yesterday morning training,” trainer Tommy Drury told Jennie Rees. “It was still very sensitive this morning. When I took my thumbs to palpate the bulbs of his heels, you could still tell it was pinching him. I had to make a choice. Your horse has to always come first. To run in a race of this caliber and trying to compete against the best 3-year-olds in this country, you’ve got to be 110 percent. To me, it wouldn’t have been fair to Art Collector, even though it’s slight, knowing that there’s an issue of any kind. I had a meeting yesterday afternoon with my veterinarians, Foster Northrup, Rick Costelle, had my blacksmith there. We discussed some different scenarios. We maybe could have put a bar shoe on it and stabilized it and he would have been fine. But you’re going to the Kentucky Derby. First and foremost, as the trainer, it’s my responsibility to be the voice for the horse. That’s just not fair to him (to run). He’s been too good to us, and we’re going to make sure he’s taken care of first.”
Sidelined for the Derby, Art Collector’s connections are now preparing him to race in the Oct. 3 Preakness Stakes.
The three-year-old was poised to be the second-betting favorite behind Tiz the Law in Saturday’s race. A turf-horse for most of his two-year-old racing career, he won five straight races since he made his debut in the slop at Churchill Downs in November, including a 3 1/2-length victory in the Blue Grass Stakes.
What makes it an even bigger blow are his connections. Owner Bruce Lunsford, jockey Brian Hernandez and trainer Tommy Drury all have local ties to Louisville. Art Collector would have been a great story to get behind in his quest to unseat Tiz the Law, but it wasn’t meant to be.