Veteran millionaire Arson Squad, a two-time grade III winner this season, and 3-year-old Stormy's Majesty, who scored the Discovery Handicap (gr. III) last out, are the standouts among a field of six in the $100,000 Queens County Handicap (gr. III) Dec. 11 at Aqueduct.
Arson Squad will carry top weigh of 123 pounds in the 1 3/16-mile Queen’s County, which has a scheduled post time of 3:44 p.m. EST. The 7-year-old will make his eighth start of the season and is in search of his fourth stakes victory. He won the Skip Away (gr. III) at Gulfstream and Alysheba (gr. III) at Churchill Downs, both in April, and last out won the Oct. 24 Mighty Forum Stakes at Belmont. The gelded son of Brahms was fourth in the 2008 Cigar Mile Handicap (gr. I), beaten less than a length, in his only start at Aqueduct.
An earner of more than $1.5 million from 30 lifetime starts, Arson Squad will try to hand trainer Rick Dutrow Jr. his third Queen’s County triumph. The conditioner won the event in 2003-04 with Thunder Blitz and Classic Endeavor, respectively. Jay Em Ess Stable owns Arson Squad, who was bred in Pennsylvania by E&D Enterprises and is out of the Green Dancer mare Majestic Fire. Ramon Dominguez will have the mount on the 8-5 morning-line.
“He’s been a very sound horse who goes easy on himself and enjoys racing,” said Samantha Siegel, managing partner of Jay Em Ess. “With the exception of his races on synthetic tracks, he’s been very consistent. We’re going to see how he handles the inner track, and after that we’ll see where we’ll go with him. We haven’t done much planning beyond this race.”
Stormy’s Majesty won the Nov. 20 Discovery Handicap at Aqueduct by two lengths for his first victory in open stakes company. The New York-bred son of Stormy Atlantic has three wins in six starts in 2010, including his first black-type score, in the restricted Albany Stakes in August at Saratoga. One of two sophomores in the race, he was eighth in the Jim Dandy (gr. II) prior to the Albany win in which he defeated Ibboyee by a neck.
The homebred from Majesty Stud runs for trainer Dominic Galluscio. He will carry 122 pounds, including Edgar Prado.
The other 3-year-old in the race is Green Hills Farm’s Modern Cowboy, a winner of consecutive optional claiming events going two turns. Todd Pletcher trains the Tiznow colt, who has won three of five starts in 2010. This will be his graded stakes debut on dirt, having finished unplaced as a juvenile in the Bourbon Stakes (gr. IIIT) on turf. John Velazquez will ride for Pletcher, who has won the Queens County twice (Early Warning 1999, Magna Graduate 2006).
Trainer Jeff Runco won this race two years ago with Researcher and is back for another try with Rebecca Hillen’s Pedrolino. The West Virginia-based son of Distorted Humor has won consecutive allowance races—one at Charles Town and the other at Parx Racing. This will be the stakes debut for the 4-year-old who broke his maiden by more than 16 lengths in August in his seventh try.
“We’ve added blinkers and that seems to have helped a lot,” said Runco. “We stepped him up in class for a tough allowance race last time, and he handled it well. We’ll see if he can step up again."
$100,000 Queens County Handicap (gr. III, Race 8, 3:44 p.m.), 3 & Up, 1 3/16 Miles (Dirt) PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer 1. Arson Squad (PA), R A Dominguez, 123, R E Dutrow Jr.
2. Stormy's Majesty (NY), E S Prado, 122, D G Galluscio
3. Pedrolino (KY), M J Luzzi, 117, J C Runco
4. Seniors Pride (FL), D Cohen, 119, M Tannuzzo
5. More Than a Reason (KY), E Castro, 117, R Persaud
6. Modern Cowboy (KY), J R Velazquez, 116, T A Pletcher