HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. — Art Collector came into the Pegasus World Cup Invitational with more winnings than any of the other 11 horses in the field.
And he left with the biggest prize of all.
The 6-year-old made a big move around the outside and pulled clear of the field in the stretch to pull off an upset win in the $3 million Pegasus at Gulfstream Park on Saturday. The win pushed his career earnings to about $4.1 million and was his 11th victory in 21 career starts.
He was one of only two horses that entered the Pegasus with more than $2 million in earnings; Cyberknife was the other. But Cyberknife wasn’t close to the front in his final race before being retired to stud, and Art Collector looked the best.
“I don’t have the words to put it together,” jockey Junior Alvarado said. “It’s just been unbelievable. I’m just so glad I got a chance to ride this horse, a very good horse I’ve been following for quite a while. I guess it was just the perfect time and we got it done today.”
Alvarado had never ridden Art Collector, who was sent off at 15-1 odds. But he does ride quite a bit for winning trainer Bill Mott, and the duo struck gold again Saturday with a perfect effort — winning by 4½ lengths.
“Having this win for Mr. Mott, I’m very grateful for him, for the support he’s given me through the years,” Alvarado said.
Defunded, at 5-2, was second. Stilleto Boy, sent off at 45-1, was third.
Mott turned to Alvarado when Luis Saez opted to ride Get Her Number in the Pegasus. It ended up being the first Pegasus win for both Mott and Alvarado.
“He couldn’t have ridden him more perfectly,” Mott said.
Art Collector hadn’t run since a disappointing fifth-place finish at the Lukas Classic on Oct. 1. But the distance — a mile-and-an-eighth — has been Art Collector’s best, given that he’s now won eight of his past 10 races at nine furlongs for owner Bruce Lunsford.
“I thought it was a very competitive field and of course our horse didn’t run his best race last time,” Mott said. “But he’s been training great and I’ve got a great owner and he wanted to give him a shot. He wanted to go for it.”
It was a wide-open Pegasus, the richest race offered at Gulfstream Park and traditionally one of the richest races in North America. In 2022, only the $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic and $4 million Breeders’ Cup Turf featured bigger prizes, and the $3 million Pegasus purse is equal to the one offered last year at the Kentucky Derby.
Art Collector paid $33, $12.40 and $8.60. Defunded paid $5 and $4 and Stilleto Boy paid $11.40.