Where to Watch & Listen to Today’s Arkansas Derby

Oaklawn 2019 - The Inside TrackThe 85thArkansas Derby will give leading Kentucky Derby contender Concert Tour one final tune-up before the run for the roses, with five horses challenging him for supremacy in front of a COVID-19 limited crowd that will still enjoy an action-packed day that includes other important stakes races as part of Oaklawn’s Racing Festival of the South.

The Arkansas Derby distributes Kentucky Derby points to the top four finishers on a 100-40-20-10 basis. There will also be one final Derby points race held at Keeneland on Saturday, the Stonestreet Lexington Stakes. That race offers points on a 20-8-4-2 basis to the top four finishers.

The Arkansas Derby will be televised by NBC Sports as part of their “Road to the Kentucky Derby” series during a one-hour program airing on NBCSN and beginning at 7 p.m. ET. The broadcast will feature NBC Sports’ award-winning horse racing team including analysts Randy Moss and retired Hall of Fame jockey Jerry Bailey

Who might upset Essential Quality in the Blue Grass Stakes?

Keeneland black and white

copyright 2016 AGameofSkill.com

There is one simple question concerning Saturday’s running of the Grade 2, $800,000 Toyota Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland.

Can Essential Quality be beaten?

The Godolphin homebred is the current Kentucky Derby favorite, based on his perfect 4-for-4 career record. Two of those wins came at Keeneland. And both were Grade 1 victories. Essential Quality won the Breeders’ Futurity last October, then followed up with a Nov. 6 victory in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at Keeneland to clinch the Eclipse Award for 2-year-old champion.

Trained by another 2020 Eclipse Award winner, Brad Cox, the son of Tapit was impressive in his 2021 debut, winning the twice-delayed Southwest Stakes at Oaklawn by 4 1/4 lengths over a sloppy track on Feb. 27. Rather than remain in Hot Springs for next week’s Arkansas Derby, Cox decided to ship Essential Quality back to Kentucky and make the Blue Grass his star attraction’s final prep before the big Churchill Downs race on May 1.

Even as the 3-5 morning-line favorite Saturday, Essential Quality does faces an interesting if not formidable field Saturday, starting with 3-1 second choice Highly Motivated, owned by Seth Klarman’s Klaravich Stables and trained by Chad Brown, who won the 2018 Blue Grass with Good Magic…

1 of These 4 Horses Could Win the KY Derby

Just when it appeared safe to come out of quarantine and not be bombarded with theories about what would happen if this team or that team were to “run the table.” We pretty well know what happens now in the usual context of that phrase. Exactly one team really…

KY DERBY FUTURES: WHO’S HOT?

Concert Tour (+ 590 Circa, 6-1 William Hill). For a change, the flavor of the week did not become the Derby favorite for the moment. He did, however, provide Baffert his record-extending eighth victory in the Rebel Stakes. That it came at the expense of a local favorite (see below) gave the win more significance. Gary and Mary West might have thought they had Derby winners with Game Winner and Maximum Security. They can entertain the notion again with the Street Sense colt out of a Tapit mare. On second thought, his 94 Beyer Speed Figure from Saturday does not measure up to stablemate Life Is Good’s 107 from this month’s San Felipe Stakes.

Hozier (40-1 Circa, 25-1 William Hill). How many Bafferts can you get into one “Who’s Hot?” section? Having shown the ability to rate the pace in breaking his maiden last month at Santa Anita, this Pioneerof The Nile colt closed from seventh in the last 550 yards to finish a distant second in the Rebel. If he is not in Concert Tour’s league, and if Concert Tour is not in Life Is Good’s league, Hozier might not be fast enough even as longer distances are more to his liking.

Risk Taking (45-1 Circa, 20-1 William Hill). His odds shortened at William Hill despite not racing since he won the Grade 3 Withers early last month at Aqueduct. It could not have been because bettors made him 42-1 in this month’s pari-mutuel Kentucky Derby Future Wager. His 1:02.1 workout over 5 furlongs Sunday at Belmont Park could not have been why. He is still on target for next month’s Grade 2 Wood Memorial, but we already knew that. Maybe someone with grand visions for this Medaglia d’Oro colt trained by Chad Brown put a big bet on him.

Points Standings on the Road to the Kentucky Derby

churchill downs ky derby dayCurrent points standings and preps schedule

Here are the Kentucky Derby points standings entering this weekend’s prep races. The top 18 horses in the final standings are guaranteed a spot in the May 1 Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs. Invitations also will be extended to the top points earners on the Europe and Japan roads to the Kentucky Derby. Ties in the points standings are broken by earnings in non-restricted stakes. Only horses who have been nominated for the Triple Crown are listed.

Rank, horse, trainer, points

1. Essential Quality, Brad Cox, 30

Last race: Won Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Nov. 6 at Keeneland

2. Keepmeinmind, Robertino Diodoro, 18

Last race: Won Kentucky Jockey Club Nov. 28 at Churchill

3. Midnight Bourbon, Steve Asmussen, 16

Last race: Won Lecomte Jan. 16 at Fair Grounds

4. Medina Spirit, Bob Baffert, 14

Last race: Won Robert B. Lewis Jan. 30 at Santa Anita

Questions and Answers about the 2021 Kentucky Derby

Answers to Commonly Asked Questions regarding this Year’s Kentucky Derby & Kentucky Oaks from Churchill Downs.

Will the Derby take place on the first Saturday in May [2021]?

We do not anticipate moving our traditional date of the first Saturday in May. Last year, racing was not permitted in the state of Kentucky at all on the first Saturday in May so we had to move the Derby in compliance with those restrictions. This year, we don’t anticipate any restrictions on running the race on its traditional date.

Will masks be required at this year’s Derby? 

All indications suggest that masks will be required at Derby 2021 based on the projections of public health experts. We will continue to operate within the guidance and recommendations issued by local and state health officials as well as the CDC.

Churchill Downs Stock UpgradedWhy aren’t General Admission tickets on sale?  Why not open the infield going for people to spread out?

Based on current public health guidance, tickets are currently limited to those that are assigned to a specific seat and that can be socially distanced from other groups of attendees. If the circumstances surrounding the spread of COVID-19 improve, we will consider selling general admission tickets.

What is being done to protect the backside workers that live on-site at Churchill Downs? What precautions will be taken for when they return? 

Just as the rest of the team at Churchill Downs Racetrack, the backside now operates under increased health and safety protocols. Churchill Downs invests in robust and routine testing that has helped us to successfully identify and isolate infection to prevent spread. 

What tickets are available to the 2021 Kentucky Derby and Oaks?

Based on current public health guidelines, we expect seating capacity for the 2021 Kentucky Derby to be extremely limited. At this time we are working to accommodate guests with contractual seating. If the circumstances surrounding the spread of COVID-19 improve, then we will sell more reserved seats and consider selling general admission tickets. To be notified if and when additional tickets become available, please subscribe to the Kentucky Derby’s email list through the box on this page or follow @KentuckyDerby on social media. You may also be able to purchase tickets which become available from contractual guests through our official ticket resale site at kentuckyderby.com/resale or through our official experience package partner at derbyexperiences.com.

Will there be any changes to tickets for this year’s Derby?

This year, reserved seats to the Kentucky Derby and Oaks will be all-inclusive. This change allows us to improve our guests’ experience by reducing the amount of time spent in line, eliminating the need for cash transactions for food and beverages and providing the opportunity to try a greater variety of food. Further information can be found at kentuckyderby.com/all-inclusive.

Will my tickets be refunded if COVID causes the Derby to be canceled or postponed?

We don’t anticipate any restrictions on running the Kentucky Derby this year on our traditional date of the first Saturday in May.

If you purchase tickets directly through Churchill Downs via Ticketmaster or the Official Kentucky Derby Ticket Exchange, and spectators are not permitted, you will be refunded the full amount paid less any processing, handling or shipping fees. Churchill Downs’ full ticket & admissions policy can be found here.

Derby Experiences has worked with its hotel, tour & transportation partners to offer an improved refund policy in 2021. If you purchase tickets through our official experience package partner, Derby Experiences, and spectators are not permitted, you will receive a credit for 100% of your payment towards the next scheduled running of the Kentucky Derby. For more information visit derbyexperiences.com

If you purchase tickets from any other source, you will be subject to that source’s refund policy.  Churchill Downs is unable to process refunds for tickets purchased through a third party.

When will tickets to the rest of Derby Week and the Spring Meet go on sale?

We anticipate these Kentucky Derby tickets will go on sale in February 2021.

Source: Kentuckyderby.com

Churchill Downs 2021 Derby Week Tickets On Sale Now

Churchill winner's circleLOUISVILLE, Ky. — The end of a cold, gloomy winter is near, and Kentuckians know what that means: the Kentucky Derby is coming. Churchill Downs announced Friday that tickets for the Derby, Oaks, and all Derby Week events are on sale now.

Reserved seats will be limited to 40-50% capacity and the sale of general admission tickets will be delayed, representatives said in an email. If the conditions of the COVID-19 pandemic continue to improve, Churchill Downs President Mike Anderson said more reserved seats will be offered…

The Road to the Kentucky Derby with a Pletcher Duo in Withers Stakes

Aqueduct starting gateThe Road to the Kentucky Derby in the Empire State resumes on Saturday when a field of nine sophomores assemble for the 147th running of the Grade 3, $250,000 Withers at Aqueduct Racetrack.

The nine-furlong event over the main track is the second local prep of the calendar year for the Grade 1, $3 million Kentucky Derby on May 1 at Churchill Downs, and awards the top-four finishers points according to a 10-4-2-1 scale.

Trainer Todd Pletcher will be packing a one-two punch in pursuit of a fourth Withers victory, sending out maiden-winners Overtook and Donegal Bay, both of which will be making their respective stakes debut.

Big Mandatory Payout at Santa Anita on Saturday.

Owned by Repole Stable, St. Elias Stable, Michael Tabor, Mrs. John Magnier and Derrick Smith, Overtook graduated going a one-turn mile at Aqueduct on December 20. The son of multiple champion-producing sire Curlin was 10 lengths behind the pace before making a six-wide move around the far turn, making up considerable ground in the stretch to secure a two-length triumph while recording a 70 Beyer Speed Figure.

“There could be a good pace. Overtook wants to settle and make one run so we’ll allow him to do that,” said Pletcher, who trained Withers winners Harlem Rocker (2008), Revolutionary (2013) and Far From Over (2015).

Overtook finished a distant third to stablemate and fellow Curlin offspring Known Agenda on November 8 at the Big A in a nine-furlong maiden event. Known Agenda subsequently ran third in the Grade 2 Remsen and runner-up Greatest Honour was a next-out winner of the Grade 3 Holy Bull at Gulfstream Park.

Sporting blinkers in his first two career starts, Overtook raced without the hood in his maiden victory.

“I think he’s learning. He’s gained some confidence with the experience and we felt like the blinkers needed to come off,” Pletcher said. “He got a nice hot pace to run at which helped. He’s an improving horse that is bred to get better with more distance and more time. We’ve seen him making progress throughout and fall and winter. This is a big step up, but hopefully he’s up for it.”

The latest AGOS Horses to Watch list

The royally bred Overtook was purchased for $1 million from the 2019 Keeneland September Yearling Sale.

Jockey Manny Franco seeks his third Withers triumph when piloting Overtook from post 6.

Donegal Bay will be diving into deeper waters as he makes his two-turn debut.

Owned by Jerry Crawford’s Donegal Racing, Donegal Bay finished sixth on debut going 6 ½ furlongs at Saratoga. He showed a different dimension in his subsequent start, notching a front-running victory by 4 ¼ lengths going a one-turn mile at Gulfstream Park on December 12.

“I think it was the additional time, having a start under his belt as well as having some good works leading into that,” Pletcher said. “He also got a better start which a lot of horses do in their second race. He has a pretty high cruising speed. Pedigree-wise, he’s bred to go that far. It’s a big step up from a maiden race, but we’re hoping for a big run.”

Donegal Bay has been training forwardly along with Pletcher’s string at Palm Beach Downs and went a half-mile in 49.03 seconds on January 29 in his most recent work.

“It’s a bit of a tricky race,” Crawford said. “This is the time of year where some horses get better and some don’t, and he needs to get better on Saturday if he can turn himself into a contender. Obviously, there’s a fair amount of front-end speed and they’ll be asked to go a mile and an eighth at the same time. Donegal Racing has always been treated exceptionally well in New York and have had some good success up there.”

A son of 2010 Champion 2-Year-Old and Pletcher alumna Uncle Mo, Pletcher said that he sees a lot of similarities between Donegal Bay and his champion-producing sire.

“Donegal Bay is a little more on the narrow side, but you can see the same head and neck that Uncle Mo stamps his offspring with,” Pletcher said. “What I like is that from the past summer, the horse is starting to fill out. He seems to be doing really well.”

Meet-leading rider Kendrick Carmouche vies for a sixth stakes victory of the meet when taking the reins aboard Donegal Bay from post 7.

Bing Cherry Racing and Leonard Liberto’s Capo Kane returns to Aqueduct in pursuit of more Kentucky Derby qualifying points after capturing the Jerome on New Year’s Day.

Trained by Harold Wyner, Capo Kane earned 10 points toward a spot in the starting gate on the first Saturday in May when taking the one-turn mile in gate-to-wire fashion under jockey Dylan Davis. After commanding moderate fractions up front, Capo Kane came under a drive at the top of the stretch and extended his advantage to a 6 ¼-length triumph.

The son of Street Sense, who sired 2018 Withers winner Avery Island, broke his maiden going two turns at Parx Racing in identical front-running fashion, hitting the wire a 4 ½-length winner.

With 10 qualifying Derby points from the Jerome, Capo Kane is currently 13th on the leaderboard.

Davis, who rode last year’s Withers winner Max Player, will return to the saddle from post 3.

E.V Racing Stable’s Eagle Orb will be seeking to turn the tables on Capo Kane after finishing second in the Jerome.

The two-time winning New York-bred captured a stakes win in the November 14 Notebook at the Big A before the runner-up finish on New Year’s Day.

Tracking in third from the three path out of the gate, Eagle Orb came under a drive around the far turn and attempted to confront Capo Kane around the three-sixteenths, but was kept at bay at had to settle for second.

Trained by Rudy Rodriguez, the son of Orb is 24th on the leaderboard with four points.

Breaking from post 9, jockey Jorge Vargas, Jr. has the mount.

Look Out for Chad Brown

Klaravich Stables’ Risk Taking looks to capitalize off a winning performance at the Withers distance for trainer Chad Brown.

The son of Medaglia d’Oro made amends for two well-beaten performances in his first pair of starts when stretching out to two turns in a December 13 maiden special weight at the Big A. Risk Taking settled in fourth along the rail into the first turn and maintained position behind horses before making a three-wide move at the top of the stretch and taking command outside the sixteenth pole to run home a 2 ¼-length winner.

Purchased for $240,000 from the Lanes’ End consignment at the 2019 Keeneland September Yearling Sale, Risk Taking is out of the stakes-placed Distorted Humor mare Run a Risk and comes from the same family as champion-producing sire Seeking the Gold.

Jockey Eric Cancel will be back aboard from post 5.

Rounding out the field are Maryland invaders Shackqueenking [post 1, Trevor McCarthy] and Royal Number [post 2, Pablo Morales], as well as Mr. Doda [post 4, Luis Rodriguez Castro] and Civil War [post 8, Benjamin Hernandez].

The Withers is slated as Race 8 on Aqueduct’s nine-race program which has a first post of 1 p.m. Eastern.

The Withers, named in honor of prominent 1800’s owner and breeder David Dunham Withers, predates the Kentucky Derby by one year with its inaugural running taking place in 1874. Coincidentally, the following year’s Withers was won by Aristides who also captured the very first running of the Kentucky Derby in 1875. Four other horses have both the Withers and Kentucky Derby on their resume including Triple crown winners Sir Barton (1919) and Count Fleet (1943) as well as Zev (1923) and Johnstown (1939).

Source: Ryan Martin, NYRA.com edited press release

Horse Racing Hopes for a Return to Normal

Empty row of seats at racetrackLEXINGTON, Ky. — The golden sunset over Keeneland provided a picturesque and welcome wrap for horse racing after the pandemic wiped out its spring, cramped marquee stakes races into a crowded schedule and reshuffled the Triple Crown order.

No Triple Crown winner emerged as a result, though the Breeders’ Cup world championships helped make up for that. Many of its best competitors performed at the top of their games on a record-breaking weekend, sparking high expectations for 2021.

The sport just hopes that next year’s schedule returns to normal and that spectators can be in the grandstands enjoying the races.

“It’s been a different feeling, you know?” trainer Bill Mott said last week. “Being a participant, we probably get as excited as the fans when they’re there. It’s like I’ve got a bet on every race we’re participating in. So, I miss the fans.”

“I’ll be glad when everything gets back to normal and we have the fans back,” he said.

The pandemic …

Got Questions about Horse Racing?

Q: Now that Swiss Skydiver has shown she can beat the colts, I think it’s time for her connections to run her in the Breeders’ Cup Classic. What do you think?

A: Beating the boys in the Preakness Stakes is one thing, but beating them in the $6 million Classic is quite another. In the 36 previous runnings, Zenyatta (2009) is the only female to win the race in one of the most thrilling moments in Santa Anita’s history.

Swiss Skydiver’s connections have indicated they favor the Breeders’ Cup Distaff over the Classic, and that’s the way I’d go if she was my filly. But consider this: If she runs in the Classic and wins, she’s hands down the Horse of the Year. There’s not even a debate…

Industry Profile: Bruce Lunsford, Art Collector’s Owner

LOUISVILLE — Bruce Lunsford, who will have his first Preakness Stakes (G1) entrant when Art Collector takes on Kentucky Derby winner Authentic Saturday at Pimlico, knows something about tough races and taking on formidable opponents.

After all, as the Democratic nominee for Kentucky’s U.S. Senate seat in 2008, he gave Mitch McConnell the closest call of the Senate Majority Leader’s long political career.

“Oh sure, even in politics there’s a common thread,” said Lunsford, comparing it to horse racing. “I went into a race that nobody thought I could win. I was 25 points behind; I was tied with two weeks to go. It was like the stretch drive. It was fun, exhilarating, and I got to meet a lot of people. Mitch and I still have a decent relationship today. I think he respected what I did, and I saw where he was quoted as saying the only time he’d had his people write a concession letter was in the race with me. Because two weeks out, it looked like we were going to win.”

The 72-year-old entrepreneur and philanthropist from Louisville has been many things: Founder of a Fortune 500 company, investor in a myriad of start-up companies, producer of movies, partner in the Kentucky Kingdom amusement park and Hurricane Bay water park. He worked in state government as Kentucky’s commerce secretary. Now Lunsford would love nothing more than to add classic-winning horse owner and breeder.

Art Collector, out of Lunsford’s mare Distorted Legacy, is his first Preakness entrant and his second in the Triple Crown, following Vision and Verse, the 1999 Belmont Stakes (G1) runner-up to Lemon Drop Kid at odds of 54-1. Art Collector — who is 4- for-4 this year, including the $200,000 RUNHAPPY Ellis Park Derby and Keeneland’s Toyota Blue Grass (G2) — was supposed to be the first Kentucky Derby starter for Lunsford and trainer Tommy Drury.

Within days of being fulfilled, that Derby dream was derailed when Art Collector sustained a minor and fleeting, but untimely, foot issue. A month later they are back on solid ground for another swing in the Triple Crown.

“It’s the only thing you work on, probably, that you spend weeks and days and everything to get ready and it lasts two minutes or less,” Lunsford said. “So a lot of stuff is just outside your control. I do like the way this horse runs. They all have to get out of the gate. We’ve seen a lot of horses over the years who are really good break bad and it takes them out of the action. This horse has not shown a propensity to do that. If he gets in the flow and we get a fair trip, I’ve got to like our chances to hit the board. Anything above that gets to be gravy. But a lot of the handicappers all of a sudden are picking him. So I don’t know exactly what that means.”

Lunsford wonders how the Derby might have been different had Art Collector been in the field, given that his horse and jockey Brian Hernandez Jr. logically figured to put more pressure than the front-running winner Authentic faced in his absence.

“The good thing is that speculation doesn’t matter, because we’re going to get a chance to run against each other,” Lunsford said. “I’m hopeful both have a good trip, and I’d love to see them down the stretch together. I’ll take my chances.”

Lunsford grew up in Kenton County in northern Kentucky near Cincinnati, his dad a union shop steward who wound up buying a small farm. Young Lunsford got interested in horse racing while attending the University of Kentucky and going to Keeneland. In the summers he’d go to Ellis Park with his fraternity brother and close friend Greg Hudson, whose dad owned horses.

A CPA who also received a law degree from Northern Kentucky University, Lunsford in his early 30s was Kentucky’s commerce secretary under John Y. Brown. In that capacity, he helped bring United Parcel Service’s worldwide air hub to Louisville and was involved with launching the Kentucky Center for the Performing Arts.

A few years later, Lunsford got into horse ownership by claiming a couple of cheap horses with his pal Hudson.

“The good news or bad news, whichever way you look at it, both of them won about $100,000,” he said. “So we thought this game is easy. We found out later it’s a little more complicated.”

A couple of years later, Lunsford wanted to get involved in the breeding side of racing. He purchased one of his first broodmare prospects in 1994, paying $500,000 for a 3-year-old filly out of the Greentree Stable dispersal upon the advice of Claiborne Farm head Seth Hancock.

“You know Bruce, he wanted action,” Hancock recalled. “We said, ‘Well look here. You can have your cake and eat it too. Greentree is dispersing these things, and here’s a pretty good racemare who’s got a great pedigree. You’ll have some fun running her and maybe we can make a pretty decent broodmare out of her.’ ”

That half-million dollar filly, Bunting, had one win out of 13 starts for her prior connections, but she also finished second in Keeneland’s Ashland (G1) and Pimlico’s Black-Eyed Susan (G2). In four starts for Lunsford, she won a Gulfstream Park allowance race before being retired to Claiborne Farm. She proved far better than pretty decent as a broodmare.

Bunting’s first foal was Vision and Verse, who won the Illinois Derby G2) and also was second in the Travers Stakes while earning $1 million. Her 11th foal was a filly named Distorted Legacy, a minor stakes-winner who placed second in Belmont Park’s Flower Bowl (G1). Distorted Legacy’s second foal was Art Collector.

Until Art Collector, Lunsford’s home-run horses came around 15 years ago.

His $160,000 yearling purchase Madcap Escapade won 7 of 9 starts and more than $1 million, including Keeneland’s Ashland G1), and finished third in the 2004 Kentucky Oaks. The Frankie Brothers charge was being pointed for the 2005 Breeders’ Cup Sprint against males when she suffered a career-ending injury. He sold a half-interest in Madcap Escapade at auction for $3 million, staying in for the other half, to another trusted advisor, John Sikura, with whom Lunsford also boards mares at Hill ’N’ Dale Farm.

The Brothers-trained First Samurai, purchased as a yearling with his friend Lansdon Robbins of Louisville, won his first four starts in 2005, including New York’s Grade 1 Hopeful and Champagne before finishing third in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. The winner of Gulfstream Park’s Fountain of Youth (G2) upon the disqualification of Corinthian for interference, First Samurai’s Derby aspirations ended when he was injured in Keeneland’s Blue Grass. He retired to a stallion career at Claiborne.

Lunsford also bred and sold Golden Missile, winner of the Grade 1 Pimlico Special in 2000, then sold that horse’s mom, Santa Catalina, for $1.35 million five years later. He also bred and sold Canada’s 2006 Horse of the Year Arravale, a two-time Grade 1 winner.

For all his success, Lunsford knows well how difficult it is to just get to the championship races, let alone win.

“Just like the experience at the Derby,” he said. “All things went right, and then he winds up getting what is almost like an ingrown toenail. You’re talking about creatures that have large bodies and small legs. And things happen. Seth Hancock told me one time, you’ve got to learn to take the hard blows in this business… My good friend Don Dizney told me that it’s the lows that make the highs so good. There’s a lot of truth to that. If you can win 15, 20 percent of your races, they cover you pretty well. It’s like the baseball player who bats .300.”

Lunsford today is chairman and CEO of Lunsford Capital, a private investment company he founded in 2003. The companies he has founded include Vencor, a Fortune 500 company now known as Kindred Healthcare, and its spinoff real-estate company Ventas; Atria Communities, the third-largest assisted-living company in America; and Valor Healthcare, Inc., a company that develops and operates outpatient clinics for military veterans under the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

“I was a start-up guy,” he said. “Now what I do is I invest in people that I think have it. I tell people I don’t invest in financial statements, I invest in people. When I realize they have the skillset, we try to give them the things they need to do to make it work.”

Drury is an example. Lunsford one day this summer asked Drury what he had going on for the week. The trainer mentioned the various trips he’d be making up and down the highway to Belterra Park and Ellis Park. “He said, ‘Man, we’ve got to get you to the point to where you’re not bouncing around so much,’” Drury recalled. “He said, ‘Better-quality horses is going to do that to you. We need to sit down and talk.’

“And that’s the kind of guy Bruce is. He’s always willing to help others. Always willing to try to help you reach your goal and get to the next level. It’s like the Blue Grass,” Drury continued, referencing Art Collector giving him his first graded-stakes victory. “It took me a long time to get to that. He knew that and I think he was genuinely happy for me. He’s got a heart the size of Texas. It makes you want to work that much harder and want to win that much more for people like that.”

Lunsford said that at this stage of his life, he only wants to do things that are fun and challenging.

“The thing I’ve done well is I’ve built a really nice staff,” he said. “The guy who runs the whole real-estate company which is assisted living and apartments, his dad was my barber. His son Brian (Durbin) is like my right-hand man. Every time I get out of Jerry’s chair, I say, ‘I just can’t tell you how he’s changed my life.’ I have a team of about six people of his quality. I’ve built a team of people where, if I drop dead tomorrow, they can keep it going.”

Lunsford laughed when asked if he’s an under-the-radar Shark Tank.

“I can relate to everything they do, except I don’t have as much money,” he said.

So maybe a Shark Tank Lite?

“That’s right,” he said. “You know I was in the movie business for a while with Ed Hart, had about 10 movies we made. We had a lot of fun. Made a little money, lost a lot of money. But I will say one thing: I was in the two toughest business anybody can be in: the horse business and the movie business.”

Making having a horse of Art Collector’s caliber even more satisfying for the father of daughters Amy, Cindy and Brandy and grandfather to six is sharing the experience with his significant other, Eleanor Porco.

“I have a lot that I enjoy in life, because I like action a little bit,” Lunsford said. “I don’t think I’m an action junkie or anything. But this is one of those things where my friends are able to enjoy it. My two best friends are still alive. I mean, we’re at the age where that could not be true. The whole idea of having a horse of this quality and at a time in my life when I’ve really got a great soulmate with me has just really turned it into a great blessing.

“There are only so many interesting things you can do in life. Outside of having your children and things you do as a kid, sports and otherwise, when you’re older, it’s harder to keep it exciting. I’m 72 years old and my life is still exciting.”

Source: Maryland Jockey Club