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LOUISVILLE, KY – Off since finishing eighth in last November’s Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (G1), Bruce Lunsford’s multiple stakes-winning homebred Art Collector is set to make his 2021 debut in Friday’s $110,000 Kelly’s Landing Stakes at Churchill Downs.
The Kelly’s Landing is a 7-furlong dirt sprint restricted to horses. This year’s edition is the penultimate event on an 11-race card and has a local post time of 5:26 PM.
Here’s a look at the full field for the Kelly’s Landing:
1. Mucho 15/1 – He makes his fourth straight start at the stakes level while still seeking to hit the board against this type of competition for the first time since the 2018 Hopeful Stakes (G1). Trainer John Ortiz claimed him for $80k last November and immediately saddled him to a 6-furlong victory against Oaklawn Park optional claimers, but he was subsequently sixth, fifth, and fourth versus stakes foes.
2. Strike Power 4/1 – The speedy Steve Asmussen trainee nearly wired the 6-furlong Maryland Sprint Stakes (G3) at Pimlico last time out before eventually finishing second. He holds a record of 5-1-2-0 since transferring to Asmussen’s barn in 2020 and won his only graded stakes to date going this distance at Gulfstream Park in the 2018 Swale Stakes (G3).
3. Bourbon Calling 8/1 – He makes his first start sinice finishing eighth in last November’s Clark Stakes (G1), a local 1 1/8-mile route that was his first and only career try going that far. He should appreciate cutting back to sprinting on a course and distance over which he broke his maiden in May 2019 and trainer Ian Wilkes connects at 13% with runners returning from similar layoffs.
4. Long Range Toddy 8/1 – Despite getting take out at the start, he rallied from last of 10 to finish second in the local 6-furlong Aristides Stakes last month, finishing a 1/2-length behind returning rival Bango. He won his only prior attempt at this distance, the 2018 Clever Trevor Stakes at Remington Park, and hasn’t found similar success since the 1 1/16-mile 2019 Rebel Stakes (G2) at Oaklawn Park.
5. Home Base 30/1 – He steps back up to the stakes ranks after gamely defeating optional claimers by a neck over this course and distance last month. That was his third win over the local dirt and fifth at this distance, but in order to contend while stepping up in class, he’ll likely need to rediscover his early 2020 form that saw him win the 6 1/2-furlong Rail Spitter Stakes at Gulfstream Park.
6. Bango 9/2 – After finishing off the board in 4 tries against tougher stakes competition, he took a slight drop down and won the Aristides after taking over midway home and holding off Long Range Toddy. With an 8-5-1-1 record on the Churchill Downs main track, he appears to hold an advantage over his rivals and attracted the meet’s current leading rider Tyler Gaffalione for the first time.
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7. Aloha West 8/1 – He waited until this past February to make his racing debut at age 4 and promptly broke his maiden over a field featuring a pair of next-out winners including Mighty Mischief, who most recently won the Chick Lang Stakes (G3) at Pimlico. Last time out, he dominated allowance rivals by 5 lengths over this course and distance while looking more than ready for his first try in a stakes.
8. Relentless Dancer 20/1 – Trainer Mike Maker claimed him for $62.5k out of his most recent start, a local 1-mile event that he lost by 8 1/2 lengths that came 1 start after he was claimed away from Maker for $32k. His barn shows tremendous faith in him by not only paying twice as much to get him back as what they received for losing him, but also by immediately bumping him up to this stiff stakes test.
9. Art Collector 7/5 – He caught fire last summer, winning his first 4 starts since transferring to Tom Drury Jr.’s care including the Blue Grass Stakes (G2) and the Ellis Park Derby. He fell off form when he stepped up for the Preakness Stakes (G1) (finishing fourth) and the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile, but he has several solid works under his belt for his big return. Drury’s barn wins 9% after similar layoffs.
“We’ve done everything we can right now for his first race back,” Drury said. “He worked a really good 1/2-mile (Saturday in :47.40). He’s ready to go and we’re excited to get him back to the races.”
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