Roused in upper stretch by Richard Migliore, Artie Schiller kicked away from pacesetting Icy Atlantic and thundered to victory in the $200,000 Jamaica Handicap (gr. IIT) for 3-year-olds in track-record time Sunday on Belmont Park turf.
"He's keeps getting better and better," said regular rider Migliore. "I'm a very lucky man to have the privilege to ride him and I mean that sincerely. I think the world of him and he gives me an incredible thrill."
Artie Schiller, a son of El Prado–Hidden Light (Majestic Light), covered the 1 1/8-mile distance on the inner turf track in 1:45.50, one-fifth of a second faster than the previous mark. Trained by James Jerkens and sent off at odds of 3-10, Artie Schiller defeated 30-1 shot Rousing Victory by 5 1/4 lengths while carrying high weight of 123 pounds. "When you see a horse finish like that, it's really something," said Jerkens. The previous best for nine furlongs on the inner turf was by Subordination on June 15, 1997. He carried 113 pounds as a 3-year-old and stopped the clock at 1:45.69. Rousing Victory edged past a tiring Icy Atlantic by 1 1/4 lengths for second. Icy Atlantic was a head better than Dealer Choice for third in the field of six.Artie Schiller, who captured his second consecutive grade II race, won for the fourth time in five starts on the Belmont turf. He has won five of his last six starts overall, his only loss coming in a second-place finish to Kitten's Joy in the Virginia Derby (gr. IIIT) at Colonial July 10.He recorded previous stakes victories in the Woodlawn on May 15 at Pimlico, the Hill Prince (gr. III) on June 6 at Belmont and the Hall of Fame Handicap (gr. II) on Aug. 9 at Saratoga in his last effort.Well in hand after breaking cleanly, the bay colt tracked Icy Atlantic on the outside in second through fractions of :24 3/5, :48 and 1:11 3/5. Artie Schiller increased the pressure as the pair came out of the final turn and kicked on powerfully when asked after briefly engaging for the lead. They completed the mile in 1:34.He drew away down the long stretch run, finishing under a vigorous hand ride from Migliore."The only concern I had was we were 1-5 in a six-horse field and when you're that short, you're the hunted," Migliore said. "I was laying second in low gear. When Icy Atlantic started to pick it up I opened my hands a little and my horse had no trouble staying with him in next to low gear. It's an amazing feeling riding him ... just a tremendous amount of power."With Cornelio Velasquez aboard, Rousing Victory was never a challenge to the winner, although he finished gamely to overtake Icy Atlantic and John Velazquez. Rousing Victory saved ground into the stretch run and split rivals to finish second best.Kennel Up and Reggie for Three followed fourth-place finisher Dealer Choice.Owned by Timber Bay Farm and Mrs. Thomas J. Walsh, Artie Schiller won for the seventh time in his 11-race career and earned a $120,000 first-place purse, pushing his career total to $555,853. Bred in Kentucky by Haras Du Mezeray SA, Artie Schiller was purchased for $67,000 at Keeneland as a yearling.Jerkens said Artie Schiller is nominated for the $350,000 Kelso (gr. IIT) for 3-year-olds at a mile on Oct. 9. "That's only two weeks from now, but we'll consider that. I like to stay home when I can.
"If you want to have a top horse for next year," Jerkens said, "I think it's important when they're young like he is, to keep it fun for as long as you can and maybe next year he might be even better." Jerkens said that he has thought about running Artie Schiller in the Breeders' Cup: "We'd consider the Breeders' Cup, but I'd have to say we'd probably pass". He paid $2.60, $2.30 and $2.10. Rousing Victory, who was making his stakes debut, returned $8.40 and $2.10. Icy Atlantic's show was $2.10. The exacta was worth $26.(Chart, Equibase)