The pinnacle race on the Aqueduct card Saturday is the Artie Schiller Stakes, going a mile on the Aqueduct lawn. Under the tutelage of James Jerkins, Artie Schiller had an outstanding career winning 10 of 22 lifetime starts with earnings of over $2 million dollars. While he raced until his five-year-old season, his four-year-old-campaign was by far his best.
In 2005, Artie Schiller won the Grade 2 Maker’s Mark Mile, Grade 2 Bernard Baruch, and capped the year taking the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Mile. It’s nice to see NYRA name a race after this outstanding racehorse and this is a solid group of ten older horses running for the winner’s share of the $150k purse.
At the time of this writing morning lines have yet to come out but I have to assume that favoritism will land on Heart to Heart for trainer Brian Lynch. The son of English Channel is a multiple graded stakes winner that has won three of five starts this year. His biggest strength is his early speed and his ability to carry that speed a route of ground. He is deadly on the front end and if he is allowed to race uncontested, then everyone else is running for second. He has finished in the exacta in six of 10 career starts at the one mile distance. I have to think, but will not assume, that he will face some pace pressure in this race. On paper, there is other speed in this race but we all know that what you see on paper does not always develop on the track.
Long on Value for Bill Mott could present some potential pace pressure. By Value Plus, the five-year-old is coming out of three consecutive sprint races. Before that he had success at the one mile distance, winning the Grade 3 Canadian Turf in 2015 and placed in that same race in February of this year. While the top spot may be out of reach, I think Long on Value could shake things up for Heart to Heart and possibly pick up a placing in this race.
Black Type and Night Prowler are two horses that are logical contenders. Black Type, trained by Christopher Clement, has won three of his last four races. His last two races, he has come from a bit off the pace. That may not be the best style going the sharp mile, but he is always flying at the end. He has shown better tactical speed in the past and the hope is he can lay closer to the pace in this race. You lose Joe Bravo in the saddle but do pick up a more than capable Jose Ortiz. He should be right there at the wire.
Night Prowler may offer some value in this race. Trained by Chad Brown, the son of Giant’s Causeway won two graded stakes races in 2015 before going to the sidelines for a year. He made his 2016 debut in August and while finishing sixth, was just beaten 1 3/4th lengths for the whole pie. Brown then put seven works into him before running him in a $100k optional claiming race at Belmont Park on Oct 19th, which he won going away. While this is a step up in class, he has the back class and foundation to pull the upset.
As for my key horse, I landed on Jay Gatsby. While he has been the bridesmaid more often than the bride this year, with four seconds and two wins, those losses were by ½ length and two noses respectively. He was unable to reel in Heart to Heart in his last race and was just beaten a nose when Ring Weekend set a track record in the Grade 2 Bernard Baruch. Jay Gatsby’s speed figures have improved in his last five starts. He has never raced at the mile distance but he has the fastest closing kick.
It’s worth noting that Jay Gatsby is trained by James Jerkins, the same man who trained Artie Schiller. A highly contentious race but I’ll go with the Jay Gatsby. And from what I’ve read, if he wins, he’ll throw one heck of a party.