Ridden by Jeremy Rose for owner/breeder J. Mack Robinson and trainer Graham Motion, the 4-year-old son of Cherokee Run snatched the lead from pacesetter J's Sundance Halo on the final turn. After battling through the stretch, Cherokee Artist drew away from J's Sundance Halo late and won handily by 2 3/4 lengths. He completed the trip in 1:35.82 over Presque Isle Downs' Tapeta Footings racing surface. That was a stakes record and .17 off the track mark.
“We had a beautiful trip, just what I wanted,” said Rose. “Graham had him on his toes, he settled perfectly and, luckily, I didn’t do anything to spoil the effort. I’d describe Cherokee Artist as a very classy racehorse.”
J's Sundance Halo, who broke on top from the rail for jockey Luis Gonzalez and posted fractions of :23.09, :46.04, and 1:10.20, held on stubbornly for the place spot, with The Roundhouse finishing a half-length behind in third. Vacation, the 8-5 favorite in a field reduced to eight by four scratches, came up empty in the stretch after rallying on the turn and wound up fourth, beaten by nearly six lengths.
Cherokee Artist lost by by just a head while finishing second in his last start in the Leeward Stakes July 26, his only prior race at Presque Isle. He ran third, four lengths behind Vacation, in the Hanshin Cup Handicap (gr. III) at Arlington Park prior to the Leeward. His last victory came over an optional claiming field at Keeneland in April. Overall, the bay colt has won five of his 15 starts and earned $528,996 after collecting $150,000 for the victory.
“He has a lot of ability,” said Motion. “I always thought he was capable of making a top effort. I think he has proven that now, and maybe it’s time for him to make the next step.”
Asked what that might be, Motion responded, without hesitation, “The Breeders’ Cup (Dirt) Mile.
"I think one mile is his best distance. He’s run very well (on the synthetic surface) at Santa Anita. And I really think if we do that, we won’t run him again until the Breeders’ Cup itself.”
The Robinson homebred is out of the Mr. Prospector mare Race Artist.
Sent off as the third choice, Cherokee Artist paid $7.80, $5, and $3.60, combining with J's Sundance Halo ($10, $3.60) for a $51.60 exacta. The Roundhouse, who trailed the field at the race's midpoint under Chris DeCarlo, finished willingly to pay $4 for the show.