Arson Squad Scores in Alysheba

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Out of necessity more than anything else, trainer Richard Dutrow Jr. paired jockey Paco Lopez with Arson Squad. So far, it’s been a match made in heaven.

For the second time in four weeks, Lopez guided Arson Squad to victory in a graded stakes, this time to a 2 1/4-length score in Friday’s Grade 3, $169,650 Alysheba Stakes at Churchill Downs. Flying Private finished second by 1 1/2 lengths over Enriched. He was followed in the order of finish by Prom Shoes, Chocolate Candy, Cool Coal Man, Macho Again, Friesan Fire, and Bullsbay.
On April 3, with many higher-profile jocks in Southern California or New York, Dutrow needed someone to ride Arson Squad in the Grade 3 Skip Away at Gulfstream. He chose Lopez, who kept Arson Squad close to the pace en route to a 3 3/4-length victory, the gelding’s first win since the Meadowlands Cup in October 2008.

On Friday, Lopez kept Arson Squad within 1 1/2 lengths of the early lead before making a three-wide bid for the lead turning for home. Arson Squad struck the front at the three-sixteenths pole and drew clear under Lopez’s encouragement. Arson Squad, a 7-year-old son of Brahms owned by Samantha Siegel’s Jay Em Ess Stable, covered the 1 1/16 miles in 1:43.28 and returned $9.40 as the second choice.

“This jock just gets along great with this horse,” Dutrow said. “Arson Squad usually comes from way off of it, and with this rider he’s just run so big his last two times when he’s been close the pace.”

Dutrow said Arson Squad would remain in Kentucky and point to the Grade 1 Stephen Foster on June 12. He was beaten 1 1/4 lengths in last year’s Stephen Foster, in which he dead-heated for fourth with Bullsbay behind Macho Again.