09/30/2005 12:00AM

Kelso a stiff test for Artie Schiller

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ELMONT, N.Y. - Artie Schiller may not have to face Leroidesanimaux, but the group he meets in Sunday's Grade 2, $350,000 Kelso Breeders' Cup Handicap at Belmont Park does not contain any pushovers.

, Silver Tree, Ay Caramba, and Funfair are four of the nine challengers Artie Schiller meets in the Kelso, one of three stakes on Belmont's 10-race card. The Kelso is a stepping-stone to the Breeders' Cup Mile, a race in which Artie Schiller finished 12th last year as the favorite.

Trainer Jimmy Jerkens elected not to ship Artie Schiller to Woodbine two weeks ago for the Atto Mile, a race Leroidesanimaux won by 7 3/4 lengths. Jerkens said cited a hesitance to ship, the potential for soft ground, and the presence of Leroidesanimaux as reasons for staying home.

Moreover, is 4 for 6 here, including victories in the Hill Prince and Jamaica last year. Artie Schiller is 3 for 4 at a mile, including a solid victory in the Maker's Mark Mile at Keeneland in April.

"I think he'll run good anywhere as long as it's firm enough," Jerkens said. "You can't argue with his mile races. He was up on the pace and ran strong in the Maker's Mark, although that field was nothing like he's going to face in this one or the next one."

Artie Schiller reaffirmed his fondness for Belmont's turf course last Sunday, when he breezed five furlongs in 58.93 seconds Sunday over the inner turf with regular rider Richard Migliore aboard.

"The turns really suit him here because he's a very big-striding horse," Migliore said.

has finished second to Artie Schiller and Leroidesanimaux in his last two starts and must overcome post 10 here. He has been known to fire big, as he did here in June 2004, running a mile in 1:32.68 in an allowance race.

Keep the Faith showed his affinity for the Belmont turf course in July, when he set a North American record for six furlongs by running in 1:06.82. After a failed dirt experiment in the Forego, Keep the Faith returns to turf.

"I don't think a mile will be a problem, but the quality of horses he's running against are a lot tougher than the horses he faced in July," said Rick Mettee, assistant to trainer Saeed bin Suroor.

Ay Caramba has won four consecutive races since trainer Bobby Frankel removed blinkers from his equipment. Limehouse, who has earned over a million on dirt, tries turf for the first time for trainer Todd Pletcher, who also sends out the dangerous Willard Straight.