Art Collector, currently the top-rated horse in the United States, is the headliner and horse to beat in a field of eight older males in Saturday’s Grade 2 New Orleans Classic at Fair Grounds
Trained by Bill Mott, he has had numerous important victories in his career, but none were bigger than his 4 1/2-length romps in the Grade 1 Pegasus World Cup in January at Gulfstream Park.
Overall, the 6-year-old son of Bernardini has won better than $4 million in his career with 11 victories in 21 career starts.
Chief among his competition in the $400,000 New Orleans Classic is the Brad Cox-trained West Will Power, who is also a 6-year-old son of Bernardini.
Second in the Grade 1 Clark Handicap last fall at Churchill Downs, he finished second in his only start this year to the streaking Last Samurai at Oaklawn Park. Overall, he has finished first or second in 12 of his 14 career starts.
Graded stakes winners Pioneer of Medina and Mr. Wireless also merit strong consideration in the 9-furlong affair on Saturday.
The pair come in off a spirited stretch battle in the Grade 3 Mineshaft Stakes over the track five weeks ago, with Pioneer of Medina taking home the narrow victory.
New Orleans Classic Predictions and Race Analysis
Coming off the biggest victory of his career, this classy 6-year-old looks to build upon the success of his $3 million Pegasus World Cup score and validate his place among the best horses in the nation.
He will be making his first start at Fair Grounds and there is another speed in the race to contend with, but he still looks like the one they will all have to beat. The eight-time stakes winner demonstrated that he can sit just off the speed last time, and that could suit him well again here if need be.
Trained by the Hall of Famer Bill Mott, he will be the favorite, so his overall value will be a question, but I am expecting another victory here. He is the top pick.
West Will Power
This son of Bernardini has run plenty of good races of late, and in fact, has been pretty consistent for his entire career. After closing out the 2022 season in the best form of his career, he returned last month at Oaklawn Park, to run a solid second behind Last Samurai in the Grade 3 Razorback.
He will probably need better to win this, but he could improve the second time back from the short layoff. Having said that, I do see a bit of a pattern where he tends to fall short against strong competition.
That belief, added with the other early speed in the race, have me believing this is not the spot for him to pick up his second graded stakes score.
Pioneer of Medina
If the favorite does not win, this is the one that I like best of the rest. Drawn to the outside in the eight-horse field, this 4-year-old son of Pioneerof the Nile should sit a good trip behind the speed.
After a few rough races starting with the Kentucky Derby, he really seems to have found his best stride. His game win last time, outdueling Mr. Wireless to the wire in the Grade 3 Mineshaft proves that he is in great form.
He also clearly likes the Fair Grounds track. I don’t think he beats Art Collector if that one runs his best, but the Todd Pletcher trainee has a big chance to prove second best.