Jay Em Ess Stable's Arson Squad waited patiently on the pacesetters A.P. Warrior and Point Determined to spend themselves, then rallied in the stretch under jockey Alex Solis to capture the $354,515 Swaps Breeders' Cup (gr. II) for 3-year-olds at Hollywood Park Saturday.
Trainer Bruce Headley made it back-to-back victories in the 1 1/8-mile Swaps after winning last year's running with Surf Cat.
"He was really feeling good all week, and he never missed an oat," Headley said. "He was ice-cold everywhere, and he ran a great race last time, so everything was pointing toward a big effort."
With just four starters, the race unfolded perfectly for the Pennsylvania-bred dark bay Brahms
gelding who sat third while racing well off the rail as A.P. Warrior and Point Determined gunned for the early lead. A.P. Warrior, ridden by David Flores, maintained a slight advantage on the inside of Point Determined while setting hot fractions of :23 1/5, :46 and 1:09 4/5. Near the quarter pole, it was clear that A.P. Warrior had enough as Point Determined forged on for Victor Espinoza. But Solis urged Arson Squad into contention coming off the turn. Arson Squad swept past Point Determined in mid-stretch while drifting out and held on gamely in the final strides under strong urging for a three-quarter of a length victory. The final time was 1:48 2/5.
"I could have taken the lead any time I wanted," Solis said. "I was just sitting there, waiting. He's a very nice horse. He's very good. I know that he can go long, and he proved it today."
The even-money choice Point Determined turned in another strong effort after challenging the strong early pace and rallying again after being passed in the stretch while drifting out a bit under Espinoza's whip late.
"He (A.P. Warrior) was aggressive," Espinoza said. "Then when I got the lead, the other horse, he came on outside of me. He was kind of far away. If he came right next to me, I think my horse would have given him more fight."
A.P. Warrior held on for a distant third-place finish, eight lengths behind Point Determined, with the outsider Potential last by another 27 1/2 lengths.
Arson Squad finished third in the 1 1/16-mile Affirmed Handicap (gr. III) June 17 when A.P. Warrior and Point Determined staged a furious stretch battle that ended with Point Determined a nose in front. Arson Squad, though, finished up well in his first start around two turns, losing by 1 1/2 lengths.
"Last time, I think he could have won. I felt I rode a bad race," Solis said. "I saved a little bit too much, and I think I let the other horses get too far away. Today, I was in a much better spot, kept him closer to the leaders."
Prior to that, Arson Squad finished third in the seven-furlong Laz Barrera Memorial (gr. II) at Hollywood after beginning his career in January with two victories in three starts at Santa Anita. The third win of his six-race career was worth $217,050 and boosted his earnings to $228,390 for owners Mace and Samantha Siegel.
"I have to give credit to Samantha Siegel and Don Devine," Headley said. "They found this horse. They came and asked me to look at a horse. I really liked him, and they're part of this victory. He has a great top line, he was very correct and a good mover. He had everything that looked like a runner about him."
E&D Enterprises bred Arson Squad, who is out of the Green Dancer mare Majestic Fire and was a $100,000 Fasig-Tipton Kentucky purchase in July 2004.
The third choice of the public, Arson Squad paid $6.80 and $3. Point Determined, who finished ninth in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) in May, returned $2.40. There was no show wagering.