Artie Schiller, ridden confidently by Richard Migliore, cruised to his first graded stakes victory in Sunday's $110,000 Hill Prince (gr. III) for 3-year-olds on the Belmont Park inner turf course.
Not content to trail after a slow opening quarter mile (:26) by Kennel Up, the 9-10 favorite made an early move on the backstretch to stay ahead of rival Timo, ridden by John Velazquez, and those two continued to race in that order all the way to the wire. Artie Schiller shook loose from Timo for a final time in upper stretch and went on to a 1 3/4-length win in 1:50 for the 1 1/8-mile Hill Prince.
Migliore controlled events with slow fractions of :51 2/5, 1:16 and 1:38 4/5 before kicking away.
"He gives me a feeling that few other horses ever have," Migliore said. "He's got such a strong finish. It's a little different this year because he is breaking better, and he's the type of horse you can sit anywhere. I felt I was in a morning gallop down the backstretch. Timo came up to him, and I let him run a little. He just exploded the last eighth of a mile. He's a very nice horse."
Big Booster, four lengths behind the winner, was third in the field of six turf runners.
Artie Schiller won his third straight for trainer Jimmy Jerkens and owner Mrs. Thomas J. Walsh and Timber Bay Farm. The beautifully-bred bay colt by El Prado
– Hidden Light (by Majestic Light) improved to 5-1-1 in nine lifetime starts while pushing his career earnings to $245,953.
"Richie (Migliore) said he might end up being on the lead or very close to it because it just didn't look like there was any speed at all," said Jerkens. "I was a little bit concerned until I saw the half (:51 2/5, half mile). I said, `You ought to be able to stick it out from here.'"
He added, "The Virginia Derby and the Secretariat would be the main objectives. How we get there, I don't know."
Haras Du Mezeray SA bred the winner, who sold for $67,000 at Keeneland in September 2002, in Kentucky.
Artie Schiller paid $3.90, $2.40 and $2.10. Timo returned $2.60 and $2.30. Big Booster was $3.40 to show. The exacta was worth $9.20.
Good Reward, War Trace and Kennel Up completed the order.