Keeneland: Art Collector posts Kentucky Derby claims as Swiss Skydiver is swamped

Horse Racing Art Collector Blue Grass Stakes Keeneland
Art Collector (Brian Hernandez): heads for Kentucky Derby after winning Blue Grass Stakes. Photo: Keeneland/Coady

By Nicholas Godfrey

Keeneland: Blue Grass Stakes G2 $600,000, 1m1f, dirt, 3yo
Art Collector (Tom Drury/Brian Hernandez)

A first graded-stakes winner for trainer Tom Drury as Art Collector tracked the pace before overcoming star filly Swiss Skydiver inside the final furlong to score by 3½ lengths.

Stepping up in grade after looking good in lesser company, the son of Bernardini is now a 16-1 chance for the Kentucky Derby with bookmakers bet365, who make Tiz The Law their even-money favourite for the September 5 contest. 

Only the second filly in history ever to contest the Blue Grass, the favourite Swiss Skydiver (received 5lb sex allowance) produced a gallant effort in defeat against her male counterparts. Assuming she returns to the fillies’ division, she remains a serious contender for the Kentucky Oaks.

Tom Drury (trainer): “He’s very versatile, very classy. He’s just the whole package.”
Kenny McPeek (Swiss Skydiver’s trainer): “It was a great race. Her fractions were pretty taxing, but she is fast. She is so special. We might lean against going to the Derby. We might go to the Alabama and consider waiting for the Kentucky Oaks.”

Madison: 100th G1 winner for Chad Brown

Keeneland: Madison Stakes G1 $250,000, 7f, dirt, 4yo+ f/m
Guarana (Chad Brown/Jose Ortiz)

US champion trainer Chad Brown recorded his 100th top-level victory when Guarana fought back to overcome Mia Mischief by a half-length after a fierce stretch battle.

Sent off 1-2 favourite, the four-year-old showed in the lead from the early stages but was headed by her rival before gamely fighting back in the last half-furlong.

Chad Brown (trainer): “She showed her heart. She showed that she’s a very special horse, which we’ve known for a long time.To get another win over Keeneland’s track ahead of the Breeders’ Cup is very important too.”

Jenny Wiley: Rushing Fall wins G1 for fourth year

Keeneland: Jenny Wiley Stakes G1 $350,000, 1m½f, turf, 4yo+ f/m
Rushing Fall (Chad Brown/Javier Castellano)

Brown did not have to wait long for his 101st G1 triumph as Rushing Fall wore down Jolie Olimpica in the stretch to win her sixth G1 event as she defended her crown in the Jenny Wiley by three-quarters of a length.

She has now won ten of her 13 career starts, among them G1 events aged two, three, four and five; since 1976, the only other horses to achieve that rare distinction in the US are Lady Eli and Beholder. Brown also won the G2 Delaware Handicap on Saturday with Dunbar Road; Irad Ortiz did the steering in the $400,000 event.

Javier Castellano (jockey): “To me, my career, my personal life, she’s right near the top. She’s never disappointed me.”

Ashland: Speech lays down Kentucky Oaks marker

Keeneland: Ashland Stakes G1 $400,000, 1m½f, dirt, 3yo fillies
Speech (Michael McCarthy/Javier Castellano)

Having finished runner-up to leading Oaks contenders Gamine and Swiss Skydiver on her previous two starts, Speech broke the track record as she stopped the clock in 1m41.26s to blow away front-running Venetian Harbor by three lengths.

Michael McCarthy (trainer): “We had our mind set on running in the Beaumont Stakes [Friday] for the last five weeks or so and the last minute, we kind of called an audible and sometimes these things work out. To come back today and think we would set a track record in a race we weren’t especially pointing to says something about Speech. She trained well. She shows up every time. I call her the ultimate overachiever.”

Ruffian: Monomoy Girl businesslike at Belmont

Belmont Park: Ruffian G2, $150,000, 1m, dirt, 4yo+ f/m
Monomoy Girl (Brad Cox/Florent Geroux) 

Monomoy Girl continued on the comeback trail with her first graded-stakes victory since 2018 when she drew away for a straightforward success at long odds-on.

Having won a minor event at Churchill Downs on her seasonal debut after 18 months away, the five-time G1 winner drew away for a two-length victory over Vexatious at odds of 3-20. She has now won 11 of 13 career starts.

Florent Geroux (jockey): “I think she’s a little better mentally. When she was a three-year-old and won the Breeders’ Cup, she had a tendency to be a little keen even when she was laying second or third. She’s a bit more relaxed now that she’s older and a little bit more composed before the race, after the race and during the race.
Now with this race under her belt, we can tackle some of the two-turn mile-and-an-eighth type of races with her. This was a nice race for her to come back into stakes competition and now we can tackle some bigger races and a tougher field, too.”

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