Jay Em Ess Stable’s 7-year-old gelding Arson Squad and Circle E Racing and partners’ 6-year-old Timber Reserve will meet for the third time in the $125,000 Skip Away Stakes (gr. III), the April 3 feature at Gulfstream Park.
Arson Squad and Timber Reserve finished first and third respectively in the Meadowlands Cup (gr. II) in 2008, and then second and third last out respectively as the favorites in the Challenger Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs March 6.
Jockey Paco Lopez rides Arson Squad for trainer Rick Dutrow Jr., who also will also send out Four Roses Thoroughbreds’ 6-year-old Helsinki in the 1 3/16-mile test with Joe Bravo aboard in a field of eight older horses.
Arson Squad is a Pennsylvania-bred son of Brahms with career earnings of $932,188. He finished fourth as the favorite behind winner Albertus Maximus in the 2009 Donn Handicap (gr. I) at Gulfstream early last year before a failed trip to Dubai when he trailed in 11th behind victor Well Armed in the Dubai World Cup (UAE-I).
Arson Squad bounced back with a good effort finishing fourth in the Stephen Foster Handicap (gr. I) at Churchill Downs in June. He didn’t run again until a third-place effort behind Grasshopper in a one-mile allowance in South Florida Feb. 3 before his good try as the 4-to-5 favorite in the 1 1/16-mile Challenger.
He is out of the Green Dancer mare Majestic Fire and was bred by E&D Enterprises.
Helsinki finished fifth behind Quality Road last out in the Donn Handicap after taking the same place behind that rival in the Hal’s Hope Stakes (gr. III) on opening day Jan. 3. A son of Distorted Humor, Helsinki won his ‘two other than’ allowance condition at Aqueduct in late November.
Jockey Chris DeCarlo gets the call on Timber Reserve, who was beaten a nose for second by Arson Squad in the Challenger after winning a nine-furlong allowance race at Gulfstream Jan. 18. The race marked his first start since a dull try finishing last of 14 in the Clark Handicap (gr. II) at Churchill in late November.
Trained by John Kimmel, the son of Forest Camp has posted earnings of more than $750,000. He was bred in Kentucky by Mike Harris and Westwind Farms and is out of the Danzig Connection mare Fountain Square.
The stranger in the race will be Sand and Cee Stable’s 5-year-old Secret Getaway, shipping in from Louisiana for trainer Mike Stidham with Eddie Castro picking up the mount. He is a chestnut son of Skip Away who won an allowance last out at Fair Grounds by 5 3/4 lengths March 13. Secret Getaway finished second in the New Orleans Handicap (gr. II) early last year behind Macho Uno.
$125,000 Skip Away Stakes (gr. III, Race 9, 5:12 p.m.), 4 & Up, 1 3/16 Miles (Dirt) PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer 1. Eldaafer (KY), E T Baird, 123, D Alvarado
2. Cristiano (PER), M Aguilar, 123, W Rosas-Canessa
3. Wingedlie (FL), E O Nunez, 117, J Negrete
4. Secret Getaway (KY), E Castro, 117, M Stidham
5. Timber Reserve (KY), C P DeCarlo, 117, J C Kimmel
6. Helsinki (KY), J Bravo, 117, R E Dutrow Jr.
7. Arson Squad (PA), P Lopez, 117, R E Dutrow Jr.
8. Gabriel's Hill (KY), M R Cruz, 117, S Benzel