Arson Squad Favored in Queen's County

Arson Squad will attempt to close his 7-year-old season with his eighth career stakes victory when he competes in Saturday’s Grade 3, $100,000 Queens County Handicap at 1 3/16 miles on the Aqueduct Racetrack inner track.


Victorious in the Grade 3 Skip Away at Gulfstream Park and the Grade 3 Alysheba at Churchill Downs in April, Arson Squad was sixth in the Grade 1 Stephen Foster, won by Blame, at Churchill in June and fifth as the favorite in the Majestic Light at Monmouth Park in August.


“I think the Foster a little too tough for him, and speed just doesn’t come back at Monmouth,” said owner Samantha Siegel, managing partner for Jay Em Ess Stable.


Back in New York for his most recent start, Arson Squad returned to form by closing into a blistering pace to post a 1 ½-length triumph in the Mighty Forum at Belmont Park on October 24.


“He’s been a very sound horse who goes easy on himself and enjoys racing,” said Siegel of the gelding, who has won nine races from 30 starts and has earned over $1.1 million. “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.”


Trained by Rick Dutrow, Jr., Arson Squad will leave from the rail under Ramon Dominguez and 123 pounds as the 8-5 morning-line favorite.


Stormy’s Majesty, trained by Dominic Galluscio, seeks his second graded stakes victory this season at Aqueduct, having taken the Grade 3 Discovery Handicap for 3-year-olds on the Aqueduct main track on November 20. Earlier this year, the Majesty Stud homebred won the Albany against New York-breds at Saratoga Race Course in August before finishing second in the Star of Cozzene and eighth versus older statebreds in the Empire Classic at Belmont in October.


Hall of Famer Edgar Prado will ride Stormy’s Majesty, assigned 122 pounds and made the 2-1 morning-line second choice, from post position 2.


Modern Cowboy, owned by Green Hills Farm, returns to New York for the first time since finishing a distant fourth in the Pleasant Colony at Saratoga on August 27. In the interim, the sophomore won two straight optional claimers in Kentucky, making wide rallies to prevail at Turfway Park on October 1 and at Churchill Downs on November 4.


Modern Cowboy, 5-2 on the morning line and set to carry 116 pounds, will leave from post 6 under John Velazquez.


Jill Pecoraro’s Seniors Pride, a veteran of the optional claiming and starter allowance ranks, will try to earn another stakes score after out-battling Understatement to take the Mad Hatter by a head on the Big A’s main track on Discovery Handicap day.


“He excels going around two turns, and last year he did very well here, which is his home,” said Seniors Pride’s trainer, Michael Tannuzzo.


The 4-year-old gelding finished third in a pair of optional claimers at Belmont in his two starts prior to the Mighty Forum, finishing behind next-out Carl G. Rose Classic Handicap winner Birdrun and Tahitian Warrior on September 22 and behind eventual Frisk Me Now victor Well Positioned and previous graded stakes winner Anak Nakal on October 14.


“In his two races before the stakes, he chased some good horses,” said Tannuzzo. “In his last race we changed his tactics. We told the jockey to not chase Understatement but to go right after him. The one thing you know about this horse is that he’ll always give 100 percent.”


Seniors Pride, 8-1 on the morning line, will leave from post 4 under 119 pounds, including jockey David Cohen.


Jeff Runco, who trained Researcher to a Queens County triumph in 2008 and a runner-up effort in 2009, will be represented by Pedrolino in the 2010 renewal. Since being transferred to Runco’s barn, the Distorted Humor gelding has won three of four starts and enters Saturday’s event off easy allowance victories at Charles Town on September 30 and Parx Racing on November 6.


“We’ve added blinkers and that seems to have helped a lot,” said Runco, who trains the 4-year-old for Mrs. Rebecca Hillen. “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. It looks like the Queen’s County will be a competitive race, but if we’re going to try a stakes, we think this is the time. I think he’ll definitely handle the added distance, which is one of the main reasons why we’ve wanted to run him in this race.”


Michael Luzzi has the call aboard Pedrolino, assigned 117 pounds and tabbed at 15-1 on the morning line.


More Than a Reason, fourth in the Mad Hatter, completes the field.


The field for the Grade 3, $100,000 Queens County Handicap:








Arson Squad (PA)

R A Dominguez


R E Dutrow, Jr.



Stormy's Majesty (NY)

E S Prado


D G Galluscio



Pedrolino (KY)

M J Luzzi


J C Runco



Seniors Pride (FL)

D Cohen


M Tannuzzo



More Than a Reason (KY)

E Castro


R Persaud



Modern Cowboy (KY)

J R Velazquez


T A Pletcher




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