09/21/2004 11:00PM

Artie Schiller, dirt demon

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Adam Coglianese/NYRA
Artie Schiller will shoot for his fourth stakes victory in Sunday's Jamaica Handicap, his first start since Aug. 9.

ELMONT, N.Y - A bullet five-furlong work from Artie Schiller on Wednesday at Belmont Park suggests he is ready to win his fourth stakes on Sunday in the Grade 2 Jamaica Handicap for 3-year-olds on the grass.

, with jockey Richard Migliore in the saddle, covered the distance in 1:00.06. After the work, Migliore told Artie Schiller's trainer, Jimmy Jerkens, that the colt was startled by a shadow during the work over the training track.

"He was going so relaxed around the 3 1/2 [furlong] pole and then he jumped a shadow," Migliore said to Jerkens. "He kind of fooled me."

Jerkens occasionally works Artie Schiller on the grass, but said with Belmont's limited turf training schedule, it's easier to plan his breezes on the dirt.

Artie Schiller hasn't run since winning the Grade 2 National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame at Saratoga on Aug. 9. Jerkens decided to skip the Grade 3, $100,000 Saranac at the end of the meet and point to the $200,000 Jamaica.

"He has always been a willing work horse and you can get him fit off works," Jerkens said. "He had been running all year good with three weeks in between races, but we thought this race was a little more important than the [Saranac]."

Kitten's Joy, the leader of the division, was assigned top weight of 125 pounds for the 1 1/8-mile Jamaica, but will not run. Artie Schiller will be the 123-pound starting highweight. The other expected starters are Icy Atlantic, Dealer Choice, Kennel Up, and Catch the Glory. Reggie for Three, Song of the Sword, and Toasted are listed as possibles.

Balto Star to Meadowlands Cup

Many trainers have used the Meadowlands Cup as a prep for the Breeders' Cup Classic. Trainer Todd Pletcher may use it as a prep for the Breeders' Cup Turf.

Pletcher said Wednesday that he plans to run Balto Star, a graded stakes winner on turf and dirt, in the Grade 2, $500,000 Meadowlands Cup on Oct. 8. Pletcher said: "It's not impossible to come back in the mile-and-a-half turf. The last time we did the dirt to turf move we won the United Nations.''

Pletcher was referring to the summer of 2003 when Balto Star won the United Nations at Monmouth Park after finishing second in the off-the-turf Oceanport Handicap. Balto Star has made his last 11 starts on turf, including a seventh-place finish in the Man o' War on Sept. 11.

"I think we'll mix it up a little bit,'' Pletcher said. "He doesn't seem to be quite as good at Belmont as on the tighter turf courses. I think The Meadowlands is a surface he would like, so we'll give it a shot.''

As a 3-year-old, Balto Star won the Spiral Stakes and Arkansas Derby on dirt.

Toccet, Venturi prep for stakes

A pair of Bobby Frankel-trained horses, Venturi and Toccet, worked in company over the main track on Wednesday in preparation for stakes starts.

Toccet covered five furlongs in 59.62 seconds. Venturi was timed in 59.67.

Toccet is being pointed to the Meadowlands Cup and Frankel hopes to secure an invitation to the Grade 1 Queen Elizabeth Cup II at Keeneland on Oct. 16 for Venturi.

Frankel scratched Venturi, a Group winner in Ireland, from the Grade 1 Garden City Breeders' Cup here on Sept. 12 because he was worried the turf was too soft. In her last start, Venturi finished second in the Grade 3 Lake George at Saratoga on Aug. 2.

"I made a mistake; I scratched too early," Frankel said. "I saw her only bad race was on the soft turf, but I later found out she bucked her shins, it wasn't because of the turf."

Frankel said he also will run Powerful Touch in the Meadowlands Cup. Powerful Touch has won his last three starts, all in allowance company.

"He's getting stronger and we haven't overmatched him," Frankel said of Powerful Touch's hot streak. "His confidence level is way up."

Hough weighs options for 'Parole'

Request for Parole, the United Nations Handicap winner, worked a bullet four furlongs in 46.72 seconds Wednesday morning over Belmont's main track. What he is working toward has not yet been decided.

Trainer Stanley Hough did nominate Request for Parole to the $750,000 Joe Hirsch Turf Classic Invitational here on Oct. 2. Hough said he would only consider running in that race if the turf were firm.

Hough said his other options are training up to the Breeders' Cup Turf on Oct. 30 at Lone Star Park or skipping the Breeders' Cup altogether and pointing to the $1.5 million Canadian International at Woodbine on Oct. 24.

Hough is interested in the Breeders' Cup because he thinks the conditions at Lone Star Park - warm weather, tight turns and the likelihood of firm turf - may better suit the American horses than the European invaders.

Traffic Chief's belated turf debut

Trainer Mike Hushion wanted to try Traffic Chief on the grass more than a year ago in the Grade 3 Hill Prince, but the race was taken off the grass and Traffic Chief finished second.

Hushion finally gets his chance to run Traffic Chief on the turf in Sunday's $100,000-added Ashley T. Cole Handicap for New York-breds.

"He has some grass on his female side and nice big feet with a flat heel," Hushion said.

Traffic Chief, who is owned and bred by Barry Schwartz, the chairman of the New York Racing Association, has only run once since October 2003.

In his last start, Traffic Chief finished third in the John Morrissey Stakes at Saratoga on Aug. 19, his first race since finishing sixth in the Empire Classic on Oct. 18. Last year, Traffic Chief won 4 of 6 starts, including the New York Derby at Finger Lakes and the Albany at Saratoga.

"He had a bunch of little stuff [wrong], but no surgeries," Hushion said. "I thought his first race back was fine. He finished up well. I thought he was going to back out of it, but he kept running."

Jose Santos will ride Traffic Chief in the 1 1/8-mile Ashley T. Cole.

* Daydreaming, runner-up in the Grade 1 Gazelle Handicap, worked four furlongs in 47.72 seconds Wednesday over Belmont's main track. Trainer Shug McGaughey is pointing Daydreaming to the $400,000 Indiana Breeders' Cup Oaks at Hoosier Park on Oct. 1.

- additional reporting by David Grening