Collusion Illusion nears return, but 'behind the eight ball'

January 14, 2020 02:11pm
After such a promising start, it was an abrupt end to Collusion Illusion's 2-year-old campaign.

Following a win in Del Mar's Best Pal Stakes (G2) that moved his record to 2-for-2 in mid-August, the Twirling Candy colt returned six weeks later in the American Pharoah Stakes (G2) and hardly ran a step before being eased on the second turn at Santa Anita Park.

While subsequent examinations found nothing physically wrong with Collusion Illusion, trainer Mark Glatt said the colt was dealing with a problem.

“Mentally he wasn’t there," Glatt said. "I think the case was he may have had a little bit of a virus coming on, where it was so early it couldn't be diagnosed. After that race, he just kind of mentally fell apart and lost some weight.”

Glatt noted he had purchased Collusion Illusion as agent for $300,000 at last year’s OBS April 2-year-olds in training sale, meaning the horse had been in consistent training since before then. The busy schedule may have finally caught up with him in the American Pharoah. It was time for a break.

"I felt like with the situation that occurred [in the American Pharoah], it would be best to give him some time off and regroup," Glatt said.



Collusion Illusion returned to the work tab on Jan. 3 and most recently drilled four furlongs in :49.40 on Friday at Santa Anita Park. It remains to be seen whether a try on the 2020 Kentucky Derby trail is in the offing.

“At this point, we’re going to have modest expectations,” Glatt said. “We’ll find a spot for him and take it one race at a time. I don’t know if he’s a Triple Crown horse because he’s kind of behind the eight ball time wise. Most of these Twirling Candys also like the grass, so he may develop into a nice grass horse down the line.”

Glatt, a fixture on the southern California circuit who has never had a starter in the Kentucky Derby, purchased Collusion Illusion on behalf of a partnership group that includes Dan Agnew, Rodney Orr, Jerry Schneider and John Xitco. All are longtime horse owners, but according to statistics from Equibase, this is just their second horse in partnership.

Glatt said he was allocated with $300,000 at the sale and was actually looking to pick up two horses for that combined price. However, a strong breeze and solid female family spurred Glatt to empty the wallet on Collusion Illusion. Bred in Florida, he is out of the unraced mare Natalie Grace, who herself is out of prolific producer Midway Squall. Of 14 foals to race out of Midway Squall, seven tallied six-figures in earnings topped by the graded stakes winner Bahamian Squall ($582,920).

“I liked his breeze at the sale and I’ve been lucky with Twirling Candys, so that’s probably what brought the horse to my attention,” Glatt said. “But along with the breeze, he also has a very strong second dam in the family. I felt it was a nice package and that’s why we went after him.”

While no comeback race has been selected, Glatt said everything is in play, including possibly shipping out of town.

“We’ll kind of let him tell us,” Glatt said. “But I think he lost only a minimal amount of fitness, so it shouldn’t take too long to get him ready.”

 

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