04/13/2006 11:00PM

Miesque's Approval upends 'Artie'

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Pat Lang
Late-closing Miesque's Approval (foreground), ridden by Eddie Castro, defeats Artie Schiller by a nose in the Maker's Mark at Keeneland.

LEXINGTON, Ky. - Five days after Artie Schiller won the Breeders' Cup Mile at Belmont Park last fall, Miesque's Approval was risked in a $50,000 claiming race at Aqueduct. He finished sixth of 10, and there were no takers.

It would be hard to imagine that a little more than five months later, they would meet in the Grade 2, $250,000 at Keeneland. It would have seemed even more unlikely they would be virtually inseparable at the wire. And it would have been downright unfathomable back then that Miesque's Approval would win by a nose.

But that's what happened Friday at Keeneland, when Miesque's Approval, who has been rejuvenated since joining trainer Marty Wolfson's barn, upset Artie Schiller in a thrilling stretch drive before 23,882, a record crowd for a Friday at Keeneland.

Miesque's Approval ($14), under Eddie Castro, rallied down the center of the course to close from fifth to first in the final quarter-mile. He completed one mile on a firm course in 1:34.06 while covering his final quarter-mile in less than 23 seconds, and his final furlong in a shade over 11 seconds. Artie Schiller, who had to spot his five rivals six pounds (123-117) apiece, finished two lengths in front of third-place Good Reward. Honor in War, Drum Major, and Gulch Approval completed the finish, in that order.

Artie Schiller was making his first start since the Breeders' Cup Mile. He was also the defending Maker's Mark winner. As a result, he was sent off the 1-2 favorite.

Miesque's Approval was the second choice. Before he fell on hard times last year, he was a stakes-class turf runner, good enough to run second in this race in 2003. He was coming off a series of strong efforts at Gulfstream Park. Miesque's Approval captured the Sunshine Millions Turf at 48-1 - denying jockey Jerry Bailey a storybook finish in his final ride, aboard Silver Tree - then came back to finish second to the highly regarded English Channel in the Canadian Turf Handicap.

Castro and Wolfson also won the Spinster Stakes at Keeneland last fall with Pampered Princess.

Miesque's Approval, 7, is by Miesque's Son. He was bred and is owned by the Live Oak Stud of Charlotte Weber, for whom he has now won nine times in 35 starts.

Garrett Gomez, who rode Artie Schiller, said, "I don't know if he saw the other horse, he was so far out."

Gomez had better luck earlier in the day. He guided Atticus Kristy ($19.20) to an upset victory in the Grade 3, $100,000 Shakertown Stakes for turf sprinters. Atticus Kristy got up in the final yards to defeat Around the Cape by a neck in 1:01.83 for 5 1/2 furlongs.

Man of Illusion, who broke poorly and then was forced to check in traffic behind Soaring Free heading into the far turn, wound his way through traffic to finish third, 1 3/4 lengths behind Around the Cape.

Soaring Free, who had won the Shakertown the past two years, wound up sixth of 12 at 2-1.

Merrill Scherer trains Atticus Kristy, who has won 9 of 29 lifetime starts.

Aqueduct: Swap Fliparoo turns the tables

Swap Fliparoo was no match for Sensation in two meetings last year. But in the $62,500 Road Princess Stakes, Swap Fliparoo turned the tables on that rival by rallying for a one-length victory over Livermore Valley in an overnight stakes for 3-year-old fillies.

Sensation, making her first start since a fifth-place finish in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies last October, finished a well-beaten third as the 3-5 favorite. Stalking from an inside position under Eibar Coa, Sensation had no response when roused in the stretch and was beaten 10 1/4 lengths.

Swap Fliparoo, under Mike Smith, was 12 1/4 lengths back after Ring True and All Bets Down dueled heads apart through an opening quarter in 23.19 seconds. Swap Fliparoo advanced into contention along the inside, before Smith got her off the rail for the stretch drive.

Livermore Valley, under Jose Santos, made the lead in midstretch but could not hold off Swap Fliparoo, who was running on Lasix for the first time in this, her 12th career start. Swap Fliparoo, trained by Allen Jerkens for Hobeau Farm, covered the 6 1/2 furlongs in 1:17.75 and returned $12.20 to win.

After going 0 for 25 upon his return to New York, Smith at this point had won with 6 of his last 20 mounts.

Swap Fliparoo could be a candidate for the Grade 2, $200,000 Nassau County Stakes at Belmont Park on May 6.

- additional reporting by David Grening