Two of the nation's best turf runners in the form of Artie Schiller and Better Talk Now hook up in Saturday's CompUSA Dixie Stakes (gr. IIT) at Pimlico when they take on four rivals as each attempts to win their second consecutive race in as many starts this year.
Artie Schiller, the speedier of the two standouts, goes into the 1 1/8 race on the Preakness Stakes (gr. I) undercard fresh off a driving score in the Maker's Mark Mile (gr. IIT) at Keeneland in which he registered a best-ever 106 Beyer Speed Figure. The 4-year-old colt is the only one in the Dixie field to have won over at Pimlico, winning last year's Woodlawn at 1 1/16 miles on grass. Artie Schiller carries top weight of 124 pounds.
Better Talk Now, unplaced in last year's Dixie, also recorded a triple digit Beyer in his 2005 debut. He registered a 103 Beyer in winning the 1 1/16-mile Fort Marcy Handicap (gr. IIIT) at Aqueduct. Better Talk Now, who closed convincingly to win last year's Breeders' Cup Turf (gr. IT) at 1 1/12 miles, will carry 120 pounds.
Of the remaining four, Good Reward could prove especially dangerous. He lacked running room at the quarter pole in the Maker's Mark Mile and was only beaten three lengths while finishing third. Good Reward boasts a 104 Beyer in winning last year's Hollywood Derby (gr. IT).
The other Dixie contenders are Cool Conductor, sixth in the Maker's Mark Mile and disqualified from a turf win at Churchill Downs in his last start; Grato Recuerdo, a Chilean-bred making his third U.S. start; and Uncle Bruce, whose only turf start came in an unplaced effort in a maiden race.
Race 9 Post Time 3:34
CompUSA Dixie Stakes
Post Horse Weight Jockey
1 Better Talk Now 120 Ramon A. Dominguez
2 Grato Recuerdo 118 John R. Velazquez
3 Artie Schiller 124 Edgar S. Prado
4 Cool Conductor 118 Cornelio H. Velasquez
5 Uncle Bruce 118 Todd Glasser
6 Good Reward 118 Jerry D. Bailey