Ken and Sarah Ramsey's We Miss Artie rallied wide into contention in upper stretch and powered away to a 2 3/4-length victory in the Grade 1, $400,000 Breeders' Futurity at Keeneland. Ridden by John Velazquez, the Todd Pletcher-trained colt earned a berth in the November 2 Breeders' Cup Juvenile at Santa Anita for capturing the "Win & You're In" event.
A turf maiden winner two starts back, We Miss Artie was exiting a sixth as the favorite in the Grade 2 With Anticipation on turf at Saratoga. He switched to the Polytrack Saturday but little went right during the early stages as the dark bay was forced to check hard when steadied between rivals entering the first turn.
Solitary Ranger sprinted to the fore at the start and reeled off early splits in :23 and :46 4/5 with General Jack chasing him second. Laddie Boy and Tiznowforamerica were also up close as We Miss Artie dropped back to ninth after a half-mile.
We Miss Artie began to advance on the far turn but was still about six lengths back in eighth after six furlongs in 1:11 4/5. He found his best stride nearing the completion of the bend, rapidly accelerating between foes before being angled wide into the stretch drive, and blew past the leaders in the straightaway, drawing away impressively in the final yards.
"Had a little bit of trouble into the first turn, had to steady him out of there, then I gave him a chance up the backstretch," Velazquez said. "Going to the second turn we saved a little bit of ground. Then when I pulled him out, he saw the light and that's when he started running."
Off at 9-1, We Miss Artie paid $21.80 to win after completing 1 1/16 miles in 1:46 4/5.
Smarty's Echo offered a bold rally on the far turn to strike the front at the sixteenth pole but proved no match for the winner late, finishing two lengths clear in second at 11-1. The late-running Arctic Slope came next in third at 9-1 and it was another two-length gap back to the 17-1 Rum Point in fourth.
Conquest Titan, Pontos, Ready for Action, Laddie Boy, 7-2 favorite Solitary Ranger, General Jack, Kendall's Boy and Tiznowforamerica rounded out the order of finish. Intense Holiday, School on a Hill, Oogeley Eye and Medal Count were scratched.
A son of Artie Schiller, We Miss Artie pocketed $240,000 for winning the 100th running of the Breeders' Futurity, improving his career record to 4-2-1-0, $307,000.
Bred in Ontario by Richard L. Lister, We Miss Artie was purchased for $90,000 last year at the Keeneland September Yearling Sale. He is out of the winning Fusaichi Pegasus mare Athena's Gift, a daughter of Grade 2-placed stakes winner Russian Bride.
"I have to take my hat off to my farm manager, Mark Partridge," Ken Ramsey said. "He picked this horse out at the sale. It's not a Kitten's Joy, but it's an Artie Schiller and they run pretty good too."
We Miss Artie is named for Sarah Ramsey's cousin's husband Artie, who recently died. Ramsey said the entire family was in Detroit cheering on the colt.
The Breeders' Futurity is part of the "Prep Season" portion of the "Road to the Kentucky Derby" series and We Miss Artie earned 10 points for the win.