10/11/2013 12:53PM

Hot Sire: Artie Schiller


Courtesy WinStar FarmArtie Schiller

The opening weekend at Keeneland’s fall meet produced its usual share of compelling story lines, many of them related to the upcoming Breeders’ Cup World Championships, as reigning Eclipse Award winners Wise Dan and Groupie Doll both suffered defeats in their final preps.

Speculation on the chances of Ken and Sarah Ramsey surpassing their record number of wins as owners set during Keeneland’s spring meet also served as discussion fodder, as the central Kentucky mainstays got off to an uncharacteristically quiet start on opening Friday but broke through with four winners Saturday and Sunday.

One of the Ramseys’ winners, We Miss Artie, became the co-centerpiece of the biggest breeding story of FallStars Weekend as the second half of a Grade 1 double for young WinStar stallion Artie Schiller in Keeneland’s two marquee 1 1/16-mile stakes for juveniles. We Miss Artie captured the Dixiana Breeders’ Futurity on a rainy Saturday with a late rally under John Velazquez, scoring his second win from four starts and rebounding from a disappointing effort in the Grade 2 With Anticipation at Saratoga.

One day earlier, Canadian shipper My Conquestadory weaved her way through traffic and accelerated quickly in the final sixteenth to win the Darley Alcibiades going away. That marked her second career win and her second stakes win, following a 3 1/4-length victory in the Grade 2 Summer Stakes over Woodbine’s turf Sept. 14.

Both horses showed a nice turn of foot in the stretch and appear to be solid contenders for Breeders’ Cup races, despite their relatively modest Beyer Speed Figures (70 for We Miss Artie and 74 for My Conquestadory). The pair certainly elevated Artie Schiller’s profile in a 24-hour span, as they became his first Northern Hemisphere Grade 1 winners from four crops of racing age and tacked a hefty $480,000 onto his 2-year-old runners’ earnings for 2013.

As a result, Artie Schiller vaulted to a firm second on the North American juvenile earnings list through Wednesday, $197,663 behind Harlan’s Holiday.

Artie Schiller was bred in Kentucky by Haras du Mezeray, the prominent French operation headed by the late Paul de Moussac, and was raised at Alice Chandler’s and Headley Bell’s Mill Ridge Farm. A son of Irish champion and 2002 leading North American sire El Prado, Artie Schiller entered the national scene right on the heels of El Prado’s accomplished son Kitten’s Joy, the Ramseys’ champion turf male of 2004.

Artie Schiller’s own bloodlines augured well for his aptitude at the highest level, as he was out of a multiple Grade 1-winning dam, Hidden Light, and a multiple Grade 1-winning second dam, Tallahto, both of whom tallied graded stakes wins on turf.

The horse more than lived up to his pedigree, winning 10 of 22 starts and earning more than $2 million for William Entenmann and Denise Walsh. Entenmann purchased Artie Schiller for $67,000 from Mill Ridge, representing de Moussac, at the 2002 Keeneland September yearling sale, and initially the colt was tried in both dirt and turf races, winning twice on grass and finishing fourth in the Grade 2 Remsen on dirt as a 2-year-old.

Once switched permanently to turf, however, Artie Schiller became one of the best in his division, finishing in the money in 14 of his remaining 17 starts and scoring eight wins. Seven of those wins came in stakes, four of them Grade 2s. The Jimmy Jerkens trainee could not recover from a rough trip in his first attempt at the Breeders’ Cup Mile at Lone Star Park in 2004, finishing 12th, but everything came together a year later at his Belmont Park home base, where he split horses in early stretch and ended eventual champion turf male Leroidesanimaux’s eight-race winning streak with a three-quarter-length Mile victory.

Winless in three graded stakes starts in 2006, Artie Schiller was retired to Hurricane Hall near Georgetown, Ky., for 2007. The farm was at the time co-owned and operated by Ben P. Walden Jr., the person formerly responsible for much of Vinery Stud’s growth and success during the 1980s and 1990s. Walden took Artie Schiller to his new Pauls Mill operation for the 2010 season and then included him in a four-horse transfer to WinStar Farm in Versailles, Ky., when he took a break from the stallion business.

Artie Schiller moved to WinStar in late 2011, just as he was wrapping up an auspicious year as the eighth-ranked second-crop sire in North America.

His best runner to date, Mr. Commons, surfaced in the spring of 2011 with a third in the Santa Anita Derby but appeared to be a potential world conqueror when switched to turf that summer in the Oceanside Stakes on Del Mar’s opening-day card. Now, two years later, the 5-year-old has yet to break through at the top level but still has earned more than $865,000 and tallied two Grade 2 wins and seven graded stakes placings on grass.

Still in training, Mr. Commons headlines a solid group of runners for Artie Schiller. That group includes several stakes winners in Australia from Artie Schiller’s extensive work as a shuttle stallion, led by last year’s Group 1 Rosehill Guineas winner, Laser Hawk.

We Miss Artie’s and My Conquestadory’s success further burnishes Artie Schiller’s reputation as a promising turf and synthetic sire, although they have much left to prove in their increasingly competitive divisions. Interestingly, as this issue went to press, the trainers of both horses – Todd Pletcher for We Miss Artie and Mark Casse for My Conquestadory – had left open the possibility that their charges will contest the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and Juvenile Fillies if they train well on dirt, rather than the BC Juvenile Turf and Juvenile Fillies Turf at Santa Anita in three weeks.

The Ontario-bred We Miss Artie clearly has the more turf-centric pedigree of the twosome. His dam, Athena’s Gift, by Fusaichi Pegasus, picked up her two career wins on turf, and his second dam, the useful racemare Russian Bride, by Saratoga Six, won twice from her last four starts in 1993-94 after switching to turf, including capturing a listed event at Belmont for her only stakes win.

Russian Bride is a half-sister to Risen Raven, the winner of the Group 2 German Oaks in 1994 and a successful broodmare whose daughters have produced multiple English Group 2 winner Trumpet Major and multiple Italian stakes winner Rastignano. Euphrosyne, the winner of the Grade 2 Long Island Handicap in 1981, is another notable relative.

My Conquestadory is the first foal to race out of the Malibu Moon mare Golden Artemis, who placed twice in dirt stakes in New York in 2008-09. My Conquestadory’s second dam, Native Trinket, by Dove Hunt, won six times on dirt from 27 career starts at Midwest tracks in the early 2000s and is a half-sister to Meadow Gem, who won the Grade 3 Duchess Stakes on what was then Woodbine’s main dirt track in 2001. My Conquestadory’s third dam, the winning Exclusive Gem mare Miss Gem, is a half-sister to Grade 2 Frank De Francis Memorial Dash winner Kelly Kip.