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Arson Squad Favored in Skip Away

Gulfstream Park
Photo: MEC

Jay Em Ess Stable’s 7-year-old gelding Arson Squad and Circle E Racing and partners’ 6-year-old Timber Reserve finished first and third in the Meadowlands Cup (G2) in 2008. They finished second and third last out as the favorites in the Challenger Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs on Mar. 6, respectively, and will now meet again Saturday in the $125,000 Skip Away Stakes (G3) at Gulfstream Park.

Jockey Paco Lopez rides Arson Squad for trainer Rick Dutrow, who also will send out Four Roses Thoroughbreds’ 6-year-old Helsinki in the 1 3/16 miles 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 $932,000. He finished fourth as the favorite behind Albertus Maximus in the 2009 Donn Handicap (G1) here early last year before an unfortunate trip to Dubai when he trailed in 11th behind Well Armed in the Dubai World Cup (G1).

Arson Squad bounced back with a good effort finishing fourth in the Stephen Foster Handicap (G1) at Churchill Downs in June. He didn’t run again until a third-place effort behind Grasshopper in a one-mile allowance here on Feb. 3 before his good try as the 4-to-5 favorite in the 1 1/16 miles Challenger.

Jockey Chris DeCarlo gets the call on Timber Reserve, who was beaten a neck for second by Arson Squad in the Challenger after winning a nine-furlong allowance race at Gulfstream on Jan. 18. The race marked his first start since a dull try finishing last of 14 in the Clark Handicap (G2) at Churchill in late November. Trained by John Kimmel, the son of Forest Camp has posted earning of more than $750,000.  

Helsinki finished fifth behind Quality Road last out in the Donn Handicap on Feb. 6 after taking the same place behind that rival in the Hal’s Hope Stakes (G3) on opening day Jan. 3. A son of Distorted Humor, Helsinki won his ‘two other than’ allowance condition at Aqueduct in late November.

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 ¾ lengths on Mar. 13. Secret Getaway finished second in the New Orleans Handicap (G2) early last year behind Macho Uno.

Completing the field for the Skip Away are Manning Racing Stable’s Cristiano, Manny Aguilar; Alghuwayriyah Stable’s Eldaafer, E.T. Baird; Haras Cotacachi’s Gabriel’s Hill, Manoel Cruz; and Javier Negrete’s Wingedlie, Eduardo Nunez.

 

 

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