ART COLLECTOR went to the lead and never looked back in Saturday's Woodward Stakes at Belmont Park. The colt captured the $500,000 Grade 1 with jockey Luis Saez aboard and for trainer Bill Mott. The colt held off the favorite MAXFIELD by 1 1/2 lengths. He set fractions of :24.02 and :47.78, leading the field by a half-length. At six furlongs, he was ahead by 1 1/2 lengths in 1:12.12. MAXFIELD moved off the rail to take aim at the finish line in the stretch, but was unable to close the gap. The final time on the fast track was 1:49.22. It was just the third loss for MAXFIELD in his 10-race caeer.
The Woodward was ART COLLECTOR's third start under the training of Mott. He had previously been under the training of Tom Drury, who had him winning at grade 2, but he seems to have stepped it up a notch under the conditioning of Mott, winning in the front in the Alydar and the Charles Town Classic Stakes (G2).
The Woodward earned ART COLLECTOR a spot in the $6 million 1 1/4 mile Longines Breeders' Cup Classic (G1) at Del Mar in November. Trainer Brendan Walsh believes MAXFIELD will also be in the Classic starting gates in November.
"I don't know what we have to lose. I'll run him a mile and a quarter. I'll talk with Mr. Lunsford, he makes the final decisions, but a mile and an eighth hasn't been a problem for him," Mott said.
"It was a wonderful race. I had a lot of confidence in my horse. He always tries so hard. H always comes with a run and finishes with run and today he ran his race," said Luis Saez. Saez will most likley be aboard ESSENTIAL QUALITY in the Breeders' Cup Classic, however. That field will also likely include KNICKS GO, who won the Lukas Classic Stakes (G3) at Churchill Downs on Saturday as well.
For ART COLLECTOR, the win was the eighth from 15 starts. Five those wins were under Drury and includes a victory in the 2020 Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (G2).
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