Updated on 09/17/2011 9:11PM

Artie Schiller tries to regroup


LEXINGTON, Ky. - The trip that Artie Schiller endured last fall as the lukewarm favorite in the Breeders' Cup Mile went from the ridiculous to the sublime. Steadied, checked, blocked, and otherwise prevented from completing so much as a meaningful step, the colt finished 12th after jockey Richard Migliore "pretty much gave up" when he dropped hopelessly out of contention down the stretch, said trainer Jimmy Jerkens.

"He had nowhere to go, to say the least," said Jerkens.

Duly regrouped, and already pointing to a return engagement in the Breeders' Cup next fall at his Belmont Park base, Artie Schiller will make his seasonal debut Friday when he breaks from post 2 in the $250,000 Maker's Mark Mile at Keeneland. Twelve older horses, including two also-eligibles, were entered in the Grade 2, one-mile turf race, which highlights a terrific 10-race card.

was favored in the BC Mile for good reason. After reeling off three straight turf wins in early spring, he finished second to the eventual turf champion, Kitten's Joy, in the Virginia Derby in July. Then came back-to-back romps in the Hall of Fame and Jamaica, both Grade 2 handicaps in New York. Those credentials led horseplayers around the globe to make the colt the 7-2 favorite in a full field of 14 in the BC Mile.

Jerkens said Artie Schiller, a 4-year-old Kentucky-bred by El Prado, spent about two months at co-owner Thomas Walsh's farm in North Carolina before returning to training at Palm Meadows in south Florida in mid-January.

"We wanted to start out in this mile race to see what route to take the rest of the year, whether that's keeping him in races at about a mile or stretching out to longer races," said Jerkens. "Hopefully this race will give us a good idea."

The opposition for Artie Schiller, who will be ridden by Edgar Prado, appears formidable, and all happened to draw inside, too. Those primary challengers include Good Reward (post 1), upset winner of the Grade 1 Hollywood Derby last fall; Mr. Light (post 3), winner of the Grade 3 Appleton Handicap at Gulfstream in his last start; and Trade Fair (post 4), a highly regarded British-bred from the Bobby Frankel barn.

Among the fringe contenders in an exceptionally deep race are Salford City, Laura's Lucky Boy, Muqbil, B.A. Way, and Gulch Approval.

Maker's Mark Day has evolved into one of the most popular days of the spring meet, and track officials are expecting a crowd of some 20,000.