NetJets Breeders' Cup Mile (gr. I)

(gr. IT , 8f ,)

ARTIE SCHILLER (B h, 126 lb) $1,053,000
El Prado (IRE) —Hidden Light , by Majestic Light
B—Haras Du Mezeray S.A., KY.; O—Timber Bay Farm and Walsh, Mrs. Thomas J.; T—James A. Jerkens

Leroidesanimaux (BRZ) (CH h, 126 lb) $405,000
Candy Stripes —Dissemble (GB) , by Ahonoora (GB)
B—Haras Bage Do Sul, BRZ.; O—Stud T N T and Stonewall Farm Stallions; T—Robert J. Frankel

Gorella (FR) (CH m, 120 lb) $222,750
Grape Tree Road (GB) —Exciting Times (FR) , by Jeune Homme
B—E.A.R.L. Elevage De La Source, FR.; O—Martin S. Schwartz; T—Patrick L. Biancone

Margins: ¾, nose, head. Others: Whipper 126($115,425) , Majors Cast (IRE) 126($60,750) , Limehouse 126 , Host (CHI) 126 , Singletary 126 , Ad Valorem 123 , Valixir (IRE) 126 , Sand Springs 123 , Funfair (GB) 126 . Winning Jockey, Garrett K. Gomez.

The $1,856,925 NetJets Breeders’ Cup Mile (gr. IT) was a story of redemption and celebration. Artie Schiller, the beaten favorite in last year’s running, redeemed himself by winning the big one in front of his New York home crowd. The winning jockey, back from the despair of drug abuse, notched the second of two Breeders’ Cup wins on the day, the first of his up-and-down career.

The winning trainer claimed the first Breeders’ Cup win for his legendary family. And the horse’s namesake, a childhood friend of the owner, celebrated life after being diagnosed with cancer. And it all happened on the biggest day in Thoroughbred racing at Belmont Park Oct. 29.

While there was plenty to celebrate for team Artie Schiller after the race, there was concern in the two weeks leading up to the Mile. The Bobby Frankel-trained Leroidesanimaux loomed large, sporting an undefeated record on the season and entering the race off a brilliant 73¼4-length win in the Atto Mile (Can-IT) at Woodbine Sept. 18. Last year’s upset Mile winner, Singletary, who scored an impressive 11¼2-length win in the Oak Tree Breeders’ Cup Mile (gr. IIT) Oct. 8 at Santa Anita, was returning to defend his title for the fun-loving Little Red Feather Racing syndicate and trainer Don Chatlos Jr.

If the presence of Leroidesanimaux and Singletary didn’t cause enough concern, Artie Schiller’s regular rider, Richard Migliore, broke his left leg in a freak paddock accident at Belmont Oct. 20. That left trainer Jimmy Jerkens, son of Hall of Fame conditioner Allen Jerkens (whose Society Selection finished second in the Emirates Airline Breeders’ Cup Distaff, gr. I, one race after the Mile) without a rider for the talented son of El Prado out of Hidden Light, by Majestic Light.

Instead of choosing an East Coast rider, Jerkens looked west, hoping the change would give him an edge. In opting for Garrett Gomez, Jerkens said he turned down a lot of New York-based jockey agents to go with the California rider. “I had seen him win a lot of races in a lot of different situations, coming from behind, slipping through, on dirt, turf, sprinting, going along like he was just doing it all and getting unbelievable runs out of his horses. I just wanted to take my best shot after Richie (Migliore) got hurt.

“For some reason, I just wanted a fresh face. I can’t really explain it. I just needed something, another spark.”

Gomez, who has fought hard to return to the top of his game after his substance abuse problems, also won the Bessemer Trust Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (gr. I) aboard Stevie Wonderboy.

With a new jockey in place, things began looking up for Artie Schiller, especially after post positions were drawn and Leroidesanimaux notched post 11. The outside post for “the king of the animals”—the French translation of Leroidesanimaux’s name—was a bit of a concern for Frankel, but he didn’t allow it to shake his confidence in the talented chestnut.

“If he’s as good of a horse as I think he is, the post position won’t matter,” Frankel said.

The Brooklyn-born trainer proved almost prophetic with his statement. It was something other than an outside post that played a larger part in Leroidesanimaux’s defeat. The morning of the race, Frankel’s regular farrier, Ray Amato, made the determination the horse’s feet were too sore for the bar shoes he had been training in to be removed and replaced with racing plates.

While deciding whether to keep Leroidesanimaux in the race or scratch him, Frankel spoke with exercise rider Nuno Santos, who told him the horse had gotten over the turf course well in the bar shoes while training earlier in the week. Amato also told Frankel the shoes should not affect his running.

“When we took the shoes off him this morning to put new ones on, we found out we had to put aluminum pads on him,” Frankel said. “We didn’t know until this morning (Saturday). He walked and warmed up fine with those shoes on. Even though I thought about taking him out of the race this morning, I thought it was going to be OK.

“It was the shoes and outside post that got him beat today. He’s a good horse. We’ll live to fight another day.”

The public sent Artie Schiller off as the second choice at 5-1 behind Leroidesanimaux and he didn’t disappoint. Sand Springs, one of two females in the field, took the early lead, with Ad Valorem forwardly placed, through an opening quarter in :23.47 and a half in :46.68.

Rounding the turn, Sand Springs tried to hold strong, but Ad Valorem grabbed the lead with Leroidesanimaux, ridden by John Velazquez, hanging on tightly. The latter got to the front in the stretch but seemed to stall over the soft going. Singletary showed promise but failed to fire in the straight.

“He left the gate a little flat-footed and I was a little worried because when I looked outside, half the field was in front of me,” Gomez said of Artie Schiller. “Part of the advantage of being down inside like this, some of the guys get hung out, and some drop out, and I ended up in a good spot. Then I just had to wait and at the top of the lane, I finally got out a little bit. And when he went, he really went and did what he had to do.”

Artie Schiller was clearly the best at the wire, winning by three-quarters of a length and stopping the clock in 1:36.10. Leroidesanimaux held second by a nose. Gorella, a French filly, finished third, a head in front of Whipper. Majors Cast, Limehouse, Host, Singletary, Ad Valorem, Valixir, and Sand Springs rounded out the complete finish.

With Singletary failing to repeat, the members of Little Red Feather still held their heads high. “He did the best he could today,” said Billy Koch, managing partner of the syndicate. “We said coming in that win or lose we couldn’t be more proud of him. He did more for us than we ever expected. Now it’s time to find him a good home at stud.”

The race was marred by the breakdown of Funfair, who carried the colors of David and Patricia Thompson’s Cheveley Park Stud, who suffered a multiple fracture of a rear cannon bone and was later euthanized. Funfair had won all three of his North American starts after shipping to this country from England at the start of this year. He was trained by Graham Motion. “He broke down behind,” said Funfair’s jockey, Edgar Prado. “We were fourth at the time and I tried to pull him out so he didn’t go down in the middle of the field.”

The win gave Artie Schiller his first grade I score, and the $1,053,000 winner’s share of the purse pushed his career earnings to $2,003,853, as he improved his record to 10-4-2 from 19 starts.

“This horse always just runs his eyeballs out,” said Jerkens, who conditions the horse for William Entenmann’s Timber Bay Farm and Entenmann’s daughter, Denise Walsh. “The race happened the way you dream about it. He was a little too sharp last time out (finishing second to Funfair in the grade II Kelso Breeders’ Cup Handicap), so I told Garrett to split the difference. I told him he didn’t want to be too far out of it but he didn’t want to be too close, either. This horse has a strong run, but it’s a short one and you have to time it just right. He saved ground and he got out at the right time and everything worked out.”

Jerkens said getting a grade I win for the horse was a relief. “If he had retired without getting one (a grade I win), then I would have taken that as a personal disaster, because he certainly is a grade I horse.”

While Gomez and Jerkens rejoiced in his win, Migliore, who has never won a Breeders’ Cup race, could be out of action for more than a month, watched from the sidelines. “I believe God has a plan for me,” the injured jockey said. “I just wish He would let me in on it.

“One of these days my time will come. I just have to believe that, but I am so happy for the horse. When I saw him in the paddock I knew he was going to run a huge race. He looked fantastic. I always knew he had a race like this in him.”

Entenmann also believed in Artie Schiller. “We’ve had a few unfortunate races, losing one grade I by a half-length (a third-place finish behind Good Reward and Relaxed Gesture in the Manhattan Handicap), so he’s been knocking on the door,” the owner said. “Today we got our racing luck back. To beat that horse ‘Leroy’ is a big thrill, but Artie was ready for it. He prepped for it. He trained for it.”

But perhaps the biggest cheerleader for Artie Schiller was his namesake, a Bay Shore, N.Y., resident and childhood friend of Entenmann’s. Schiller is well known in Bay Shore as the former owner of the Irish pub Southside Hotel. He also ran the local off-track betting parlor and has been involved in racing for most of his 80-plus-year life.

“He called me up one day a few years ago, and he asked me if it would be all right if he named a horse after me,” Schiller said. “I said, ‘Bill, have you been drinking?’ He said, ‘No I really want to name a horse after you. I have to ask you; I can’t just do it.’ I said, ‘It’s all right with me, Bill, go ahead.’ ”

The friendship between Schiller and Entenmann goes back decades, the pair having grown up and attended school together. “I wanted to name the horse after him and for our town, because he’s done so much good for it,” Entenmann said. “He walks around town with a copy of the latest racing report in his back pocket to show people. He’s so thrilled and I’m so thrilled that he’s thrilled. Artie’s been real sick, and I mean real sick with cancer. I think this horse has put 10 years on his life.”

The human Artie Schiller accompanies the Entenmann family to as many races as possible and loves being around the horse.

“When we were in Kentucky (winning the Maker’s Mark Mile , gr. IIT, at Keene-land), the girls were coming up to him and asking for his autograph,” Entenmann said. “He got a thrill and I got a thrill.”

Entenmann is the grandson of the founder of Entenmann’s Bakery. He and his older brothers, Charles and Robert, took over the family business when their father died in 1951. The bakery has since been sold, but the brand is still popular throughout the United States and England.

Entenmann and his wife, Christine, owned the 110-acre Timber Bay Farm in Westbury, Long Island, until the early 1990s, when they sold it.

In addition to Denise, the couple has a son, Billy, and another daughter, Jamie. Billy, a former steeplechase jockey, is a trainer based at Fair Hills Training Center in Maryland.

“We’ve had some nice horses before, mainly a lot in the jumping game, but nothing like this,” said Entenmann, whose Timber Bay operation bred 2002 Belmont Stakes (gr. I) winner Sarava.

Entenmann plans to race Artie Schiller next year. “He’s healthy, sound, and lightly raced. I don’t see why he can’t continue racing next year as a 5-year-old,” Entenmann said. “He’s done well and I’m happy as hell. Let’s celebrate.” b