LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) There’s only one first time, and that first time sticks with you for a lifetime.
Louisville native Tom Drury experienced a big one on Saturday. His first graded stakes win. Art Collector ran down the filly Swiss Skydiver in the Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland.
“For a split second coming to the 1/8th pole I thought we might be second to her, and then, you know, where the winner’s circle is at at Keeneland is right at the 1/16th pole and right as he was going by me is right as he was making the lead and kind of going away from her and I’ll be honest it was kind of, from then on it was just kind of a blur.” Drury said.
A blur that landed Drury, his Louisville based jockey Brian Hernandez, and his Louisville owner, Bruce Lunsford, in the winner’s circle and emphatically on the Kentucky Derby trail.
“You know I can remember as a kid Affirmed and Alydar, of course as a kid, I always thought I was going to be the next Steve Cauthen, so I was always a big fan of Affirmed and Steve.” Drury said when asked about his earliest Derby memory. The trainer will turn 49 on Sunday, September 6, one day after Kentucky Derby 146.
Drury is back at his home base, the serene Skylight Training Center in Oldham County.
“As far as coming out of races, and just starting back and the initial week or so, I just think having him in a nice, quiet environment it’s a big plus for us,” he said.
His father was a trainer, and Tom, Jr., followed his dad to the barn.
He is a Moore High grad and a big UK fan. Which former Cat would he compare his big horse to?>
“I think he’d be a cross between a Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and an Anthony Davis.,” Drury said. “I guess probably closer to Kidd-Gilchrist. You know he’s not a giant, grand horse, but he’s got everything where it’s supposed to be and he just has so much try to him.”
The son of Bernardini also has a calm demeanor around the barn.
“Nothing rattles him,” Drury said.
A good attribute when the prospect of facing up to 20 rivals at Churchill Downs on the first Saturday in September looming.
Art Collector has five wins in eight career starts, including four in a row. Three of those four wins came under the twin spires.
While he has his first Kentucky Derby contender, Tommy Drury is not ready to talk Derby just yet.
“I’ll be honest with you, I’m still afraid to even say the D word. My mother sent me a text the other day and asked if, you know, are we a definite for the Derby? and I responded back, mom eight weeks is a lifetime in horse racing,” Drury warned.
UofL fans can also pull for Art Collector. Drury tells me he uses the colors red, black and white because early in his career he trained for former Cards coach, Hall of Famer Denny Crum.
Art Collector could potentially make one more start between now and Derby Day, the Ellis Park Runhappy Derby on August 9.
“We’re gonna let him take us along,” Drury said. “If we feel like we need another race, we’ve got the spot at Ellis Park that we can look at, if we don’t feel like we need another race, then we’ll just train up to the Derby and take our best shot that way. Again, horses take you to races, you don’t take them and that’s exactly what we’re gonna do.”