Jay Em Ess Stable’s Arson Squad took over at the top of the lane and bounded home for his second straight graded stakes score in the $169,650 Alysheba Stakes (gr. III) (VIDEO) April 30 at Churchill Downs.
The millionaire gelded son of Brahms seems to be getting better with age, as he has hit the board in all four starts during his 7-year-old campaign. He defeated a solid group of older horses in the 1 1/16-mile Alysheba for the sixth stakes win of his 27-start career.
Former Kentucky Derby (gr. I) starters Chocolate Candy, Friesan Fire, and Flying Private, as well as grade I winners Bullsbay and Macho Again went to post in the Alysheba, which carried a field of nine. Friesan Fire set the early pace under Shaun Bridgmohan, taking them through reasonable splits of :24.86, :48.95 and 1:12.54 with Enriched pressing the pace. Cool Coal Man was never far back in third, while Arson Squad took a perfect stalking position in fourth under Paco Lopez.
Enriched and Joel Rosario took over entering the second turn, but it wasn’t long before Arson Squad collared him, and he came off the turn with a narrow advantage. Arson Squad took a 1 1/2–length lead at the eighth-pole and had plenty left to hold off Flying Private, who was closing on the outside under Terry Thompson. The margin of victory was 2 1/4 lengths. Enriched held on for third.
The final time on a fast main track was 1:.43.28.
Arson Squad entered the race off a commanding win in the Skip Away Stakes (gr. III) at Gulfstream Park April 3. The Rick Dutrow Jr. trainee was also runner-up in the Challenger Stakes in March at Tampa Bay Downs and third in an allowance contest to begin his season.
"(Lopez) must get along great with this horse," Dutrow said. "Arson Squad usually comes from way off of it and with this rider – I don’t know if the horse puts him there or the jock puts him there and I’m going to try to find out -- but he’s just run so big these last two times with this rider when he’s been close to the pace.
“We’re going to keep him here and run him in the Stephen Foster (gr. I)," Dutrow added. "We expect him to show up. It looks like he’s turning the tables."
The $600,000 Stephen Foster Handicap, at 1 1/8 miles, is June 12.
Now with eight career wins, Arson Squad has earned $1,108,864 with the winning share of $100,976 in the Alysheba. The dark bay/brown gelding was bred in Pennsylvania by E&D Enterprises and is out of the Green Dancer mare Majestic Fire. He was a $100,000 purchase at the 2004 Fasig-Tipton Kentucky yearling sale.
The winner paid $9.80, $5.40, and $4.20. The exacta (7-8) returned $128 and the trifecta (7-8-9) was $1,108.
“It was an easy race," Lopez said. "(Trainer Rick Dutrow) said, ‘Paco, you know how to ride this horse. You won on this horse at Gulfstream. He won easy.’ ”
Prom Shoes was fourth, followed by Chocolate Candy, favored Cool Coal Man, Macho Again, Friesan Fire, and Bullsbay.