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Ellis Park Derby Preview: Final Prep for Art Collector
Art Collector working at Churchill Downs (Credit: Coady Photography)

Ellis Park Derby Preview: Final Prep for Art Collector

HENDERSON, KY – Bruce Lunsford homebred Art Collector makes his final prep for the Kentucky Derby (G1) against 11 other sophomores in Sunday’s $200,000 Runhappy Ellis Park Derby.

The Ellis Park Derby is a 1 1/8-mile dirt route that will award Kentucky Derby points to the top four finishers on a 50-20-10-5 basis. It has a local post time of 5:10 PM Central and is the penultimate event on an 11-race card that includes four other stake.

“I’m just hoping for a good clean trip more than anything,” said Art Collector’s trainer Tommy Drury. “We want this race to be a stepping stone for the next one. I’d love to see him go down there and get a good, clean, easy trip wherever he may finish and then be able to move forward from that race.”

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Here is a look at the full field for the Ellis Park Derby:

1. Trident Hit 30/1 – The Tiznow colt was late to the party, not making his career debut until June 7 when he narrowly a 7-furlong sprint at Churchill Downs. He stretched out a month later in an Indiana Grand two-turn optional claimer, finishing second behind a runaway winner. He adds blinkers, an 11% move for trainer Brendan Walsh.

2. Anneau d’Or 12/1 – He lost by a head and a neck, respectively, in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) and the Los Alamitos Futurity (G2), but has since failed to hit the board in 3 Kentucky Derby preps this year. He scratched out of last weekend’s Shared Belief Stakes at Del Mar, won by the narrow Los Alamitos Futurity champion Thousand Words.

3. Sprawl 15/1 – He returns to this distance after not handling it too well last time out in the Ohio Derby (G3), where he sat mid-pack before finishing fifth behind familiar foe Dean Martini. Perhaps his best chance is to run closer to the pace, much like he did two back when defeating a Churchill Downs allowance field after closely stalking the leader.

4. Art Collector 4/5 – The overwhelming morning line favorite has literally done nothing wrong this year, twice defeating optional claiming company at Churchill Downs before dominating the Blue Grass Stakes (G2). Not only was the win at this same distance, it also came against Swiss Skydiver, the highly-regarded filly considered to be a top Kentucky Oaks (G1) contender.

5. Necker Island 15/1 – His current connections claimed him for $100k after he finished fourth at Churchill Downs behind familiar foes Art Collector and Shared Sense. He stretched out to this distance in his first start for new trainer Chris Hartman, finishing third in the Indiana Derby (G3) behind Shared Sense, and most recently fired a bullet best-of-18 4-furlong work in :47.80.

6. Little Menace 20/1 – After compiling a 5-2-2-0 record sprinting at Churchill Downs and Oaklawn Park, he stretched out to two turns last time out to win the Grand Prairie Derby at Lone Star. In that race, he showed that he could handle being pressured on the front end and still take the field gate to wire, so expect to see him leading at the top of the stretch.

7. Truculent 30/1 – He returned from a seven-month break to finish seventh against a turf allowance field at Ellis Park on July 3. He switches back over to the dirt, the site of his only career victory, and adds blinkers for trainer Jack Sisterson, who has a 26% strike rate when making such a surface swap.

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8. Rowdy Yates 20/1 – He began his career winning 5 of his first 8 starts, 4 of those in stakes and all occurring between May and January. He took a four-month break after finishing fourth in the Saudi Derby Cup and finished fourth in the Ohio Derby after challenging for the early lead. Trainer Steve Asmussen’s stable wins 20% with second-time starters after similar layoffs.

9. Dean Martini 10/1 – He was a surprising 14/1 winner of the Ohio Derby last time out, his second start after being claimed for $50k out of his maiden-breaker at Churchill Downs. If an early pace duel commences, look for one of the field’s best closers to be flying down the stretch for jockey James Graham and trainer Tom Amoss, who have a 23% win rate together.

10. Attachment Rate 20/1 – He broke his maiden at third asking, romping by over 6 lengths over a sloppy Gulfstream Park main track. After finishing second in the Unbridled Stakes behind Belmont Stakes (G1) runner-up Dr Post, he finished fourth in the Matt Winn Stakes (G3) and fifth in the Blue Grass, so he’ll need to reverse form if he hopes to challenge here.

11. Winning Impression 20/1 – His best chance for victory may be if a torrential rain falls Sunday afternoon and turns the track into a sloppy mess. The Paynter gelding has crossed the wire first in both trips over a sloppy surface (though he was later disqualified in one), but he has a 6-0-1-2 record on a fast track.

12. Shared Sense 9/2 – The recent Indiana Derby winner and second choice on the morning line really could not have drawn much worse. It’ll be absolutely necessary for jockey Florent Geroux to get him out of the gate as quickly as possible, but luckily, Geroux is the best gate jockey in the sport.

13. Rogue Element 30/1 (Also Eligible) – He’ll need at least one rival to scratch in order to make the field. If he does, he’ll be facing the toughest field of his 7-race maiden career. He has only finished within 3 3/4 lengths of the winner once and was well-distanced in both the Florida Derby and the Ohio Derby.


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