It took a long journey for trainer Tom Drury to get to where he is now, with a GII Toyota Blue Grass S. winner and major GI Kentucky Derby contender in his barn. There were years when Drury didn’t win any races, which had him questioning whether he was made out for the training business. But life is good now for Drury, largely thanks to a Bruce Lunsford homebred named Art Collector (Bernardini), and he joined the TDN Writers’ Room presented by Keeneland Wednesday to talk about his prized pupil and his bumpy ride to success.
Calling in as the Green Group Guest of the Week, Drury was asked how he came to train Art Collector, who ran the first five races in his career for Joe Sharp. The colt was transferred to Drury by owner/breeder Bruce Lunsford following his disqualification from an allowance victory for a levamisole positive under Sharp.
“I’ve been working for Bruce for a long time. We had Madcap Escapade for him as a 2-year old,” Drury said of his time assisting longtime Lunsford trainer Frankie Brothers. “I’ve always done more behind the scenes kind of work, legging up young horses and taking horses when they needed a break and things of that nature. Along that path, he’s always left a few horses with me to race and given me some opportunities to win some really nice races. He contacted me and just said he was going to be shuffling the deck a little bit and wasn’t exactly sure which horses were going where, and just asked if I could help him out, which we were obviously happy to do. Art Collector was one of those horses.”
As for Art Collector’s temperament and development, Drury commented, “He’s really been easy. He’s just a very kind, classy individual, nothing seems to rattle him. He just kind of fell right into the routine. Gosh, he’s probably been as easy of a horse to train as I’ve ever had in the barn. I would definitely tell you that the horse handled Saturday a whole lot better than the trainer did. He’s just been a pleasure to work with.”
Drury has walked a winding road to where he is now, and he recalled some of the tougher times, saying, “It took me a while to figure out what my niche was going to be in the business. I kind of had to do the same thing my dad did. I had a few horses, but I had to gallop on the side to cover the expenses. It’s just been slow coming. There were some years that we didn’t win a race and the opportunities weren’t happening. You think to yourself, ‘Man, what did I do here?’ At one point, I wasn’t sure that I was going to make it as a trainer, but fortunately things turned around and here I am. It’s been good stuff. We never gave up. Finally things just started to kind of go the right way.”
Elsewhere on the show, in the West Point Thoroughbreds news segment, the writers discussed the outbreak of COVID-19 among the jockey community and looked forward to the Saratoga meet. Click here to listen to the podcast and click here to watch it on Vimeo.