The hard-trying A. P. Arrow was the heavy choice in the 1 1/8-mile test after a strong third-pace effort behind Corinthian four weeks ago in the Gulfstream Park Handicap (gr. II). He ran third in the Donn Handicap (gr. I) prior to that.
A.P. Arrow gave jockey Edgar Prado his fifth of six victories of the afternoon. The son of A.P. Indy also provided trainer Todd Pletcher with his second of three stakes wins and fourth of five victories overall on the card. The winner was timed in 1:49:70 over the fast track.
Political Force, the 5-2 second choice ridden by Javier Castellano, Jr., finished third in the field of seven, a length behind Rehoboth, piloted by Manoel Cruz.
Gottcha Gold established the strong pace -- :23 1/5, :46 4/5 and 1:10 3/5 -- before fading to last in the field of seven.
A.P. Arrow stalked the front-runner in third while three wide going into the far turn, launched his bid in the stretch to challenge Political Force, who also prompted the pace, at the furlong pole. After gaining the lead he was fully extended to hold off the 16-1 shot Rehoboth, who closed strongly from far back in the stretch.
“He broke really good, but I knew the inside horse (Political Force) had speed, so I just wanted to stay within striking distance," said Prado, who rode A.P. Arrow for the first time in the Skip Away. "He is like riding a bike -- you have to keep peddling the whole time. They told me to ride him with confidence, and I did, and he got the job done.”
The victory was the fourth in 16 lifetime starts for A.P. Arrow, who earned $60,000 and has banked $600,961 in his career.
Owner Michael Paulson said he would consult with Pletcher about taking A.P. Arrow to the Stephen Foster (gr. I) at Churchill Downs June 16 or the Suburban (gr. I) at Belmont Park two weeks later.
“We’ve known all along he’s a quality horse, but to be a closer on the dirt on certain tracks can be tough," said Paulson. "He can run all day, and he’s got some good speed, but he’s a grinder and a closer. In the Donn Handicap, everybody talked about Invasor and saying how he got cut off. Well look at A.P. Arrow, he got cut off too and had to go wide."
The winner paid $3, $2.40 and $2.10. Rehoboth, who ran fifth in the Gulfstream Park Handicap in his last start, returned $6.20 and $2.10. Political Force, who came into the race with back-to-back allowance triumphs over the track, was $2.10 to show.
It was a half-length back to Palladio in fourth. He nosed Touched by Madness, with Tap Dancing Mauk and Gottcha Gold trailing. Dry Martini and Welcome Again scratched.