by Najja Thompson and Brian Bohl
Stakes action returns to Aqueduct Racetrack on Saturday with a pair of turf contests, featuring seven juveniles vying for supremacy in the $100,000 Atlantic Beach and 12 veteran contenders taking aim at the one-mile $150,000 Artie Schiller.
Carded as Race 8 with a scheduled post time of 3:47 p.m., the fourth running of the Artie Schiller will see Jump Sucker Stable's multiple graded stakes winner Blacktype making his first start since winning the Grade 2 Knickerbocker on October 8 at Belmont Park.
Blacktype, a 7-year-old French-bred gelding in the care of conditioner Christophe Clement, has amassed 12 wins from 36 career starts. Kicking off his 2018 campaign with a fifth-place finish in an allowance race at Keeneland on April 8, he has since won three races from six starts, including three in his last four, encompassing a pair of optional-claiming victories at Belmont. His Knickerbocker victory by a neck earned a personal-best 104 Beyer Speed Figure.
"He's been a very fun horse to have around," Clement said. "He always tries and is coming in for this well off his victory in the Knickerbocker last out. Unfortunately, he'll have to carry the most weight in the field, but he prefers some give in the ground which it looks like there's a chance we'll get, so hopefully things work out."
Blacktype will leave from post 5 with Joel Rosario.
Unable to draw into last Saturday's Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Mile, Godolphin Stables and trainer Kiaran McLaughlin will enter Qurbaan.
A 5-year-old son of Speightstown, Qurbaan made his first 13 starts in Europe before transferring to the McLaughlin barn. Winning his North American debut in the Grade 2 Bernard Baruch Handicap on September 3 at Saratoga Race Course, he followed with a game third-place finish in the Grade 1 Shadwell Turf Mile on October 6 at Keeneland.
"He's been just great since he's come to us," McLaughlin said. "He's doing very well and has been training forwardly off his race in the Shadwell [Turf Mile]. We didn't get into the Breeders' Cup [Turf Mile] so we had this spot in mind and hopefully the weather cooperates."
Qurbaan will leave from post 1 with Luis Saez set to ride.
Profiteer enters for Hall of Fame trainer Shug McGaughey and owner Stuart S. Janney III. A 4-year-old home-bred War Front colt, Profiteer has two wins from seven starts this year.
Following a seventh-place finish in the Grade 1 United Nations on June 30 at Monmouth Park, he rebounded to finish third to Blacktype in an optional claimer on September 27 at Belmont and followed with a win in the same conditions on October 19.
Profiteer will depart from post 2 with Hall of Famer John Velazquez aboard.
Klaravich Stables and William Lawrence's Bricks and Mortar, a graded stakes winner after capturing the Grade 2 National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame on August 4 at Saratoga, enters off a pair of third-place finishes in the Grade 3 Saranac on September 2 at Saratoga and the Grade 3 Hill Prince on October 7 at Belmont for trainer Chad Brown. Hall of Famer Javier Castellano has the call from post 6.
Bricks and Mortar's stablemate, Juddmonte Farms' Projected, will return to the Big A for the first time since April. The 6-year-old has finished on the board in seven consecutive starts, including second in the Grade 3 Baltimore/Washington International Turf Cup on September 29 at Laurel Park. Irad Ortiz, Jr. will ride from post 9.
Also entered is Backsideofthemoon for Lake Lonely Racing and trainer Leo O'Brien; Proforma for trainer Michael Stidham and DARRS Inc.; Dr. Edgar for trainer Barclay Tagg and owner Peter and Eloise Canzone, Sr.; Dalarna for trainer Kelly Rubley and Gunpowder Farms and Black Tide for trainer David Cannizzo and Ivery Sisters Racing.
Exulting for Godolphin and Gunpowder Farms' Papa Zulu are main-track only entrants.
In Race 6, slated for 2:47 p.m., the inaugural Atlantic Beach will see Gatsas Stables' Backtohisroots look to build on his best stakes effort after running second to Uncle Benny in the Futurity on October 7 at Belmont. The John Terranova trainee earned an 80 Beyer in rallying from eighth to a half-length behind the victor in a "Win and You're In" qualifier for the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint that ran last week at Churchill Downs with Uncle Benny finishing a rallying second.
"He's doing really well and we were really proud of him for running so well on the grass first time out," Terranova said. "We tried to get in the Juvenile Sprint but unfortunately he didn't do enough in time to get close to the entries with the full field. But he's training really well and we're looking forward to Saturday."
Claimed for $50,000 off his maiden-breaking win at second asking on July 30 at Saratoga Race Course, Backtohisroots took the step up in class in finishing seventh in the Grade 1 Hopeful on September 3 at the Spa. After making his turf debut at the Atlantic Beach's distance of six furlongs in the Futurity, the Mark Valeski colt will stay on the grass, drawing the rail with Saez in the irons.
"We just had a feeling with his pedigree and his physical appearance, that he would take to the turf," Terranova said about the surface switch. "He just looked the part, physically. We worked him on it a couple of times prior to the Futurity and he was great. The turf that day had some give in it, but he certainly took to it, so if it's [soft], we don't anticipate it being a problem.
"He might be a horse who will want some more ground in front of him as a 3-year-old, but for now we'll stick with what he's done well," he added.
Calumet Farm's Good Good won his debut in a five-furlong sprint on June 30 over Gulfstream Park's main track and was switched to turf in his next start, running third in the Skidmore on August 17 at the Spa. After running ninth in the Kentucky Downs Juveniles on September 1 at one mile, trainer Todd Pletcher will see the son of Quality Road cut back from one mile for his first appearance at the Big A.
Ridden by Castellano, Good Good will break from post 5.
Honorable Hero will be making a quick turnaround after running sixth in the rescheduled Awad on November 4 at Aqueduct. The Honorable Dillon gelding, who broke his maiden in his third start overall and first on turf on October 4 at Belmont, will look for his first stakes win in his second start in less than a week for trainer Gary Contessa, drawing post 6 with Dylan Davis aboard.
Nancy Pierce's Wallace returns to the United States after three consecutive races at Woodbine, including a 12th-place finish in the Grade 1 Summer on September 16 at one mile. The Run Away and Hide gelding, trained by Kelsey Danner, won the six-furlong Soaring Free over yielding turf on August 26 and was fourth in the Victoria on July 14. Jockey Rajiv Maragh will pick up the mount, drawing post 3.
Neverland Rock was eighth in the Futurity for Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen in his North American debut. After making his first five starts in his native Great Britain, the No Nay Never colt shipped to Belmont from Europe and will be looking to earn blacktype in a stakes for the first time, breaking from post 2 in tandem with Rosario.
Rounding out the field is Absentee, making his stakes debut for trainer Alan Goldberg from post 7; and Gins and Tins, a Scat Daddy colt who was fourth in the Skidmore on August 17 last out for trainer Wesley Ward, out of post 4.