He's been bumped, steadied and wide while hopelessly outrun. Yet, Artie Schiller has overcome adversity-filled trips to remain undefeated on the Belmont Park turf. His stretch kick might be best likened to an afterburner on an F-16 jet.
On Sunday at Belmont, Artie Schiller makes his stakes debut when he starts as the favorite in the $75,000-added Pilgrim Stakes (post time 5:12 p.m.). Nine two-year-olds were entered in this nine-furlong race on the inner turf.
In the Pilgrim, Artie Schiller is the 120-pound highweight under jockey Mike Luzzi. A son of El Prado, Artie Schiller turned heads in his debut on the Widener turf course July 16. Tenth at the top of the stretch and no less than seven paths off the rail, he launched a late rally before nailing the front-running See Latham on the wire by a neck. It was one of the more visually impressive races of the summer.
"He was making steady progress heading into that race," trainer Jimmy Jerkens said. "He always work good in the morning, especially when he was in company with another horse. He used to breeze with (the since injured) Oz and they would finish on even terms, but Oz always looked like he was working harder."
After finishing third to a talented New York-bred in Read the Footnotes in an allowance race on the dirt, Artie Schiller switched back to the turf on Sept. 17, and got back to the winner's circle. Slammed on both sides at the start, Artie Schiller dropped back, made steady progress on the far turn, turned for home four wide and motored passed seven horses in the final quarter mile. Three horses that Artie Schiller beat that afternoon--Timo, Kennel Up and Tynan--are also entered in the Pilgrim.
Artie Schiller might be unbeaten in a pair of one-turn races on turf, but will have to negotiate two turns for the first time in the Pilgrim. Additionally, the Pilgrim marks his first start beyond a mile. As a tune-up for his two-turn debut, Jerkens breezed Artie Schiller one mile over the training track last Wednesday in 1:45.
"I just wanted him to get the rhythm down," Jerkens said. "It's different when you're running at horses who were sprinting up the backstretch in a one-turn race. Going two turns, the pacesetters are probably going to have more left for the stretch run. We'll be closer to the pace by default."
Artie Schiller, owned by Timber Bay Farm and Mrs. Thomas Walsh, drew post 4.
C K Woods Stable's Timo did his best to fend off the late thrashing of Artie Schiller, but finished second. His trainer, Bill Badgett Jr., is hoping he can turn the tables as Timo also tries two turns for the first time.
" I think Timo will be better when he can relax and come with one late run," Badgett said. "You just don't get a chance to settle in those one-turn races.
"He got really sick on me over the summer and then bruised his hoof when we got back from Saratoga. He may have been a little short the other day."
Timo, who, like the Pilgrim favorite is a son of El Prado, was racing with blinkers for the first time on Sept. 17.
Jockey John Velazquez, who won three straight Pilgrims from 1997-2000, has picked up the mount on Timo. They break from post 9 under 116 pounds.
T Y B Stable's Milestone Victory swerved in and out during the stretch run of his winning debut here on Sept. 25 and should improve off the effort for trainer Niall Brennan. A son of Dynaformer -- Sovereign Mistress, by Sovereign Dancer, Milestone Victory drew post 8 under jockey Javier Castellano.
Pilgrim Stakes, Belmont Park, $75,000, 2-year-olds, 1 1/8 miles, inner turf.
PP, Horse, Jockey
1, Kennel Up, Pablo Fragoso, 116
2, Tynan, Jose Espinoza, 118
3, Cartage Agent, Jose Santos, 116
4, Artie Schiller, Mike Luzzi, 120
5, Unbuckle, Jorge Chavez, 118
6, Pa Pa Da, Norberto Arroyo Jr., 118
7, Cool Conductor, Jerry Bailey, 118
8, Milestone Victory, Javier Castellano, 118
9, Timo, John Velazquez, 116