08/04/2006 12:00AM

Artie Schiller looking to rebound


SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - Saratoga has been a great tonic for Artie Schiller the past two summers. Trainer Jimmy Jerkens hopes that trend continues Sunday, when Artie Schiller seeks his first win of the year against four rivals in the Grade 2, $150,000 Fourstardave Handicap.

As a 3-year-old, won the Hall of Fame Stakes here after getting beat in the Virginia Derby. Last year, following a loss in the Grade 1 Manhattan Handicap at Belmont, Artie Schiller was able to run down Silver Tree here and win the Bernard Baruch.

This year, in two starts since his win in last fall's Breeders' Cup Mile, Artie Schiller was beaten a nose in the Maker's Mark Mile at Keeneland and a neck in the Grade 2 Dixie at Pimlico. Jerkens did not like the way Artie Schiller came out of the Dixie so he gave him some time to perk up. He was hoping to bring him back in the Caesar Rodney Stakes last month at Delaware Park but decided to wait.

"He was doing okay but not for long enough," Jerkens said. "I said we waited this long, we'll wait and try to get him super good."

Jerkens believes he has Artie Schiller super good entering the Fourstardave, run at 1 1/16 miles over the Mellon Turf Course.

"It looks like it," Jerkens said. "You never know, but he seems to be real good, holding his flesh good. He's working good, he's good and sound, got a lot of strength."

Artie Schiller should be able to work out a good stalking trip under Garrett Gomez. , who finished a troubled second in the Poker Handicap, looks like the main speed if his rider Javier Castellano so chooses. Prior to the Poker, he won two consecutive races in gate-to-wire fashion. Trainer Angel Penna said he would leave the decision of whether to take the lead up to Castellano.

The stretch-running , 3 for 3 since coming to North America, won the Elkwood Stakes at Monmouth Park in a course record 1:32.50 for one mile. Rick Mettee, who oversees Godolphin Racing's North American string, said he is more concerned about a lack of pace than he is running back 22 days after that effort.

"You never know what you're going to get in these paceless fields," Mettee said. "It looks like that should help a horse like Artie Schiller, who should pull a perfect trip."

Diamond Green finished second to Funfair in last year's Troy Stakes here. Noble Causeway returns to the turf for the first time since finishing fifth in his career debut as a 2-year-old.