Winless since he captured last year's Manhattan Handicap (gr. IT) on the Belmont Park turf, Meteor Storm returns to New York Saturday to face a strong group of 10 foes in the latest renewal of the $400,000 event on the Belmont Stakes undercard.
A winner last year by 1 1/4 lengths, the British-bred son of Bigstone enters the 1 1/4-mile test with back-to-back runner-up finishes for trainer Wally Dollase. He finished second in the San Luis Rey Handicap (gr. IIT) at Santa Anita March 27 and was 1 3/4 lengths behind Manhattan foe America Alive in the Woodford Reserve Turf Classic (gr. IT) at Churchill Downs in his last start May 5.
Michael Jarvis, Gary Margolis, and Ken Smole's Meteor Storm, carrying 119 pounds, starts on the far outside with Cornelio Velasquez aboard. The 6-year-old has won six of 18 starts with earnings of more than $700,000.
Favoritism will probably go to multiple graded stakes winner Artie Schiller, who has yet to win a grade I race in spite of his superb record .
Edgar Prado will ride Artie Schiller breaking from the inside post-position under top weight of 122 pounds for trainer Jimmy Jerkens. Artie Schiller spots his rivals between three and 10 pounds.
The 4-year-old bay son of El Prado
, owned by Timber Bay Farm and Mrs. Thomas Walsh, tuned up for the Manhattan with a runner-up finish in the Dixie Stakes (gr. IIT) on May 21 at Pimlico. He won his 2005 debut, a 2 1/4-length victory in the Maker's Mark Mile Stakes (gr. IIT) on April 15 at Keeneland.
Artie Schiller ran 12th in the 2004 Breeders' Cup Mile (gr. IT) in his only previous grade I try, which put a disappointing end to a tremendous sophomore campaign. He registered back-to-back in the National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame Handicap (gr. IIT) and the Jamaica Handicap (gr. IIT). He has won four of his six starts at Belmont. The colt has eight wins in 15 lifetime starts and earnings of $750,853.
Good Reward has not won since the 2004 Hollywood Derby (gr. IT) but is showing signs of returning to form for trainer Shug McGaughey after finishing third in both the Dixie and Maker's Mark Mile.$400,000 Manhattan Handicap (gr. IT, Race 10, 5:53 p.m.), 3 & up, 1 1/4 miles (turf)
PP. Horse, Weight, Jockey
1. Artie Schiller (KY), 122, Edgar S. Prado
2. Good Reward (KY), 117, Jerry D. Bailey
3. Saint Stephen (KY), 114, Richard Migliore
4. Mustanfar (KY), 117, Jose A. Santos
5. Alost (FR), 115, Jean-Luc Samyn
6. Quest Star (KY), 114, Jon K. Court
7. America Alive (KY), 119, John R. Velazquez
8. Relaxed Gesture (IRE), 116, Brice Blanc
9. Angara (GB), 112, Gary L. Stevens
10. Macaw (IRE), 115, Javier Castellano
11. Meteor Storm (GB), 119, Cornelio H. Velasquez