Artie Schiller, just edged in the voting for last year's champion turf male, heads a small but select field in the Maker's Mark Mile Stakes (gr. IIT) at Keeneland Friday.
The winner of the 2005 NetJets Breeders' Cup Mile (gr. IT), Artie Schiller garnered 116 votes for divisional championship honors, just three less than Leroidesanimaux.
The 5-year-old horse makes his seasonal debut in the Maker's Mark, one of the highlights of the Keeneland meeting. The mile race on grass is for 4-year-olds and up and carries a $250,000 purse.
Artie Schiller and jockey Garrett Gomez drew the rail in the six-horse field. The son of El Prado
has been working regularly at Belmont Park for trainer Jimmy Jerkens and ships to Keeneland with 10 wins in 19 starts. He is owned by William Entenmann's Timber Bay Farm and Entenmann's daughter, Denise Walsh.
Artie Schiller seeks to defend his title in the Maker's Mark, having won the race last spring by 2 1/4 lengths over Gulch Approval and Good Reward, who return to face him again. It was his first start of 2005 and he was 3-2, so bettors are likely to hammer him down again at the windows.
Miesque's Approval has run well in both of his starts this year. The 7-year-old Miesque's Song horse won the Sunshine Millions Turf at nearly 50-1 and then finished second in the Canadian Turf Handicap, both at Gulfstream. He is trained by Marty Wolfson for Live Oak and will be ridden, as he was in those races, by Eddie Castro
Honor in War lacked room in his first start of the year and loves the Keeneland turf course. The Paul McGee trainee could be tough coming from off the pace. Owned by 3rd Turn Stable, he will be ridden by Shaun Bridgmohan, who is off to a good start at the meet.
Good Reward and Gulch Approval both come out of the Canadian Turf, where they finished fourth and fifth, respectively.
The field, in post order:
1, Artie Schiller, 123, Garrett Gomez
2, Drum Major, 117, Rafael Bejarano
3, Good Reward, 117, Edgar Prado
4, Gulch Approval, 117, Rene Douglas
5, Miesque's Approval, 117, Eddie Castro
6, Honor in War, 117, Shaun Bridgmohan