Artie Schiller tunes up for BC Mile in Sunday's Kelso 'Cap.

Artie Schiller tunes up for BC Mile in Sunday's Kelso 'Cap.

NYRA/Adam Coglianese

Artie Schiller Gets His Turn in Kelso BC 'Cap

(from Belmont Park release)
Multiple graded stakes winner Artie Schiller tunes up for a return trip to the NetJets Breeders' Cup Mile (gr. IT) when he faces a deep field of American-based turf horses in the $350,000 Kelso Breeders' Cup Handicap (gr. IIT) at one mile on the Belmont Park turf Sunday.

Originally, trainer Jimmy Jerkens targeted Woodbine's Atto Mile (Can-I) a week ago for Artie Schiller's Breeders' cup prep, but had a change of heart in the days before the race. Leroidesanimaux destroyed the field in a winning effort that will likely make him the favorite for the Mile, part of the Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships at Belmont Park on Oct. 29.

"If we don't win we're probably second in there, but the winner was very impressive," said Jerkens of the Atto Mile. "I was happy we stayed home."

Artie Schiller was the beaten favorite in last year's BC Mile at Lone Star Park. A nine-time winner and earner of nearly $900,000, he is 2-1-1 from four starts this year. The 4-year-old colt won the Maker's Mark (gr. IIT) at Keeneland in April and proved best with a resolute run in Saratoga's Bernard Baruch (gr. IIT) Aug. 1.

Artie Schiller was particularly strong in the Baruch, wearing down a classy, loose-on-the-lead horse in Silver Tree who galloped through easy fractions of :50 and 1:12 4/5. There were at least a couple of points during the homestretch run where Artie Schiller looked flat-out beaten. In the end, though, his determination prevailed and he got up to win by a half-length.

"I thought he was great," Jerkens said. "It takes him a while to get around any turn and, at the quarter-pole, that other horse (Silver Tree) cut the hedge and opened up again. I said, 'No way, he's not gonna get there.' I thought it was his best race ever. Hopefully, he can do it again."

Artie Schiller has been nearly unbeatable at a mile, winning three of four starts. He's a multiple stakes winner at Belmont after winning the Hill Prince (gr. IIIT) and Jamaica (gr. IIT) as a 3-year-old last season.

"He's trained great," Jerkens said. "He's giving away a lot of weight, but I have no complaints with the way he's been training, that's for sure."

Trainer Todd Pletcher has a pair of accomplished Kelso starters in Limehouse and Willard Straight. Limehouse, who has earned more than $1 million and is a grade II winner on dirt, is making his first start on the grass in the Kelso. Willard Straight is a proven turf miler who ran sixth in the 2004 Kelso.

Limehouse breezed a half-mile (around the 'dogs') over Belmont's inner turf Sept. 19 in :47 1/5.

"You never know for sure until you go over there and run in a race, but it certainly appears as though he likes the grass," Pletcher said. "He worked well and we worked him with a couple of graded stakes winners on the turf. He showed us it was certainly worth a try."

Willard Straight owns two wins and two seconds from five starts on the Belmont grass. Over the summer, he was beaten a neck by Mr. Light Belmont's Poker (gr. IIIT). Willard Straight steps into the Kelso off a fifth-place finish in Saratoga's Troy. He had some trouble late in that race, checking in deep stretch.

Keep the Faith set a North American record when he ran six furlongs on the Widener turf course in 1:06 4/5 July 24. Hoping to make him a grade I winner on the dirt, his connections entered him in the Forego at Saratoga. It didn't go well. Keep the Faith was beaten almost 30 lengths, checking in last of six. The Australian bred is 5 for 10 on the grass.

"We took a chance and it kind of blew up in our faces," said Rick Mettee, assistant trainer to Saeed bin Suroor. "Now, he's back on a turf course he likes, and I'd expect him to run well. I don't think a mile will be a problem, but the quality of horses he's running against are a lot tougher than the horses he faced in July."

Silver Tree has been as good as ever in his last two starts, finishing second to Artie Schiller in the Baruch and Leroidesanimaux in the Fourstardave (gr. IIT). He goes out for the Hall of Fame connections of trainer Bill Mott and jockey Jerry Bailey.

$350,000 Kelso Breeders' Cup Handicap (gr. IIT), 3 & up, 1 mile (turf)
1. Limehouse, Todd Pletcher, John Velazquez, 114
2. Keep the Faith, Saeed bin Suroor, Javier Castellano, 115
3. Latino Magic, R.J. Osborne, R.M. Burke, 115
4. Ay Caramba, Bobby Frankel, Robby Albarado, 116
5. Willard Straight, Todd Pletcher, Eibar Coa, 114
6. Ecclesiastic, Allen Jerkens, Jose Santos, 114
7. Not Phone, Richard Dutrow Jr., Rafael Bejarano, 113
8. Funfair, Graham Motion, Edgar Prado, 115
9. Artie Schiller, Jimmy Jerkens, Richard Migliore, 123
10. Silver Tree, Bill Mott, Jerry Bailey, 117
Ecclesiastic will race without blinkers.