Artie Schiller, yet to win in two starts this season, is the clear standout in a field of five entered for the $150,000 Fourstardave Handicap (gr. IIT) at 1 1/16 miles on the Saratoga turf Sunday.The slow start for the winner of last year's NetJets Breeders' Cup Mile (gr. IT) at Belmont Park prompted trainer Jimmy Jerkens to give Artie Schiller an unplanned layoff. Jerkens hopes his 5-year-old's past success at Saratoga helps him get back on the right path Sunday.Owned by Mrs. Thomas Walsh and Timber Bay Farm, both of Artie Schiller's losses have been close.In his first race of the season, the Maker's Mark Stakes (gr. IIT) at Keeneland, the El Prado horse lost to Miesque's Approval by a nose. Even though he finished third in the Dixie (gr. IIT) at Pimlico on Preakness Day, Artie Schiller was beaten only a neck by Better Talk Now for the win.In his last seven races, Artie Schiller has two wins by three-quarters of a length and a half-length, three seconds by two noses and a neck, and two thirds by a neck and a half-length."It's nerve-wracking when he's running, but it's usually rewarding," Jerkens said. "Win or lose, it is usually a great effort. He's a genuine horse. That's how he has made $2.8 million."At Saratoga as a 3-year-old last year, Artie Schiller won the Bernard Baruch (gr. IIT) and the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame Stakes (gr. IIT).Artie Schiller has not raced since the Dixie and hasn't been himself the past couple of months, according to Jerkens."After the Dixie, he didn't seem right," Jerkens said. "He didn't look the same. He lost some weight. We didn't know what was going on with him. So we stopped with him and let him come back up. We're relying on him extra heavy Sunday."Ashkal Way has been unbeaten in three races since shipping to the U.S. for Godolphin. In his recent victory, the Elkwood Stakes at Monmouth Park, Ashkal Way broke a 15-year-old record for a mile over the turf course with a 1:32 2/5 clocking. "He has been a surprise for us," said Rick Mettee, North American racing manager for Godolphin.This is the first graded stakes test for Ashkal Way, who has won five of 12 career starts, including all three tries at 1 1/16 milea on the turf. Mettee believes this is the perfect opportunity to test the gelding's class."The timing is right to prove himself," said Mettee of the Irish-bred son of Ashkalani. "The question is if he has the class to handle a horse like Artie Schiller. We know he can put in a good effort. He deserves that chance."Remarkable News, a Venezuelan-bred owned by Holly Rincon and trained by Angel Penna Jr., has a graded stakes victory in the Connaught Cup (Can-III) at Woodbine on his eight-race resume. The three-race winning streak ended for Remarkable News in the Poker Handicap (gr. III) at Belmont Park, where he finished second to Rebel Rebel in July. He has not finished worse than third in his career.
$150,000 Fourstardave Handicap (gr. II, Race 9, 5:20 p.m.), 3 & Up, 1 1/16 Miles (Inner Turf)
PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, ML Odds
1. Diamond Green (FR), Kent Desormeaux, 115, 4/1
2. Remarkable News (VEN), Javier Castellano, 117, 7/2
3. Noble Causeway* (KY), Eibar Coa, 114, 8/1
4. Artie Schiller (KY), Garrett Gomez, 122, 1/1
5. Ashkal Way (IRE), Michael Luzzi, 116, 4/1
*Noble Causeway will race without blinkers.