Many unforeseen things have had to happen in the past few months for trainer Thomas Drury to have the horse of a lifetime.
The longtime trainer has helped get many young horses ready for owner Bruce Lunsford before often being sent to other trainers.
"We do a lot of that for Bruce," said Drury, who started training in 1991 with three winners and $10,533 in earnings. "He has always been great about leaving a few horses with us and giving us opportunities. We certainly have had plenty of other horses for him that have gone to other trainers that we would be involved with one way or another."
Blue Grass Stakes winner Art Collector may have been the next one to leave Drury's barn, but then COVID-19 struck.
"We were certainly happy to help out when needed," Drury said. "Once the COVID stuff hit, that allowed him to stay here longer than anticipated, which led to us being able to run him the first time and Bruce was kind enough to give us the opportunity of a lifetime."
Having a horse as talented as Art Collector is one thing, but making it to the Kentucky Derby requires an entirely different set of luck. Art Collector typically would be considered a late developing 3-year-old, but with the Derby moved to September, the colt suddenly had a chance to make the Derby.
"We were late getting to the party and we needed every little thing to fall in place for him to get him to this point," said Drury, whose stable this year has a record of 14-10-6 from 68 starts with earnings of $760,819. "I was joking with someone the other day that this horse was a half mile fit the first week of May. There was zero chance that we could even consider the Derby on a normal schedule."
Drury is taking things one step at a time and is not looking ahead of Sunday's $200,000 Ellis Park Derby to the Kentucky Derby, but the trainer who grew up just four hours from Louisville, equates running in the Derby to hitting the lottery.
"You think about hitting the Lottery and how you would react and what you would do," Drury said. "To me growing up with horses in Louisville you look at the Derby the same way. To all of a sudden see your horse and your name in that race being mentioned, I can't find the words to describe it, it is a dream come true."
Art Collector, seen training below, will look to keep Drury's magical run alive with a strong performance Sunday.