A Big A turf party in the ‘Artie’
By Bob Ehalt
With Thanksgiving less than a week away, the clock is ticking on grass racing in New York.
Only five turf stakes will be left at Aqueduct before year’s end following Saturday’s $150,000 Artie Schiller, a one-mile test for 3-year-olds and up.
There’s a field of 11 scheduled to square off (with a 12th horse a main track only entrant) with Blacktype and Delta Prince expected to vie for favoritism in a grass stakes that could add black type to the winner’s resume as a stallion.
Trained by Christophe Clement, Blacktype (5-2 morning line) seeks a third straight victory after winning an allowance race and then the Grade 2 Knickerbocker, both at Belmont Park. A 6-year-old gelding (which rules out a career at stud for him), Blacktype pressed the pace in second in the mile-and-an-eighth Knickerbocker before edging clear in the stretch and prevailing by a length.
Saturday’s one-mile distance should well-suit the gelding as his bids for his 10th victory in 29 career starts.
Ridden by Joel Rosario in his last two starts, Blacktype rallied from 10th to finish second in last year’s Artie Schiller.
“He’s been training well but he’ll be carrying plenty of weight (124 pounds),” Clement said. “I think he’s OK on softer turf. There’s rain the forecast, so that could be good. Joel is riding, so it’s exciting. He ran very well in the race last year and we’re looking for another good effort.”
Delta Prince is the 5-2 morning-line choice after finishing third in the Grade 2 Bernard Baruch behind Heart to Heart and Forge.
Trained by Jimmy Jerkens and owned by Stronach Stables, Delta Prince was second in the Grade 3 Appleton on April 1 at Gulfstream Park in his only other stakes appearance.
Other top contenders include Night Prowler (5-1), who was a length behind Blacktype in the aforementioned allowance race at Belmont, Fire Away (8-1) and A Lot (6-1), who is making just his second start since last November.
Thanksgiving weekend has traditionally been the spot for Aqueduct’s final buffet of graded stakes, but the schedule has been revamped.
The Thanksgiving Day card includes the Fall Highweight Handicap (G3) and Winter Memories, with the Comely (G3), Gio Ponti and Key Cents on Nov. 24 and the Discovery (G3), Forever Together and Aqueduct Turf Sprint Championship on Nov. 25.
The following week’s Saturday, Dec. 2 card at Aqueduct will feature the Grade 1 Cigar Mile Handicap, Demoiselle (G2), Remsen (G2) and Go For Wand (G3).