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Arson Squad Tracks Down Victory in the Swaps Stakes

July 09, 2006|Bob Mieszerski | Times Staff Writer

After finishing a nose apart in the Affirmed Handicap on June 17, Point Determined and A.P. Warrior raced as a team for a good portion of the $354,515 Swaps Breeders' Cup Stakes on Saturday at Hollywood Park.

This was just fine with Alex Solis, the rider on Arson Squad, something of a forgotten 3-year-old who was also exiting the Affirmed, a race in which he finished third, beaten by only 1 1/2 lengths.

Taking advantage in a Grade II that was ridden almost as if it were a match race, Arson Squad, the 2-1 third choice, tracked A.P. Warrior and Point Determined for about a mile, gained the lead in the middle of the track and went on to beat Point Determined, the even-money favorite, by a length.

In winning for the third time in six starts for owners Mace and Samantha Siegel's Jay Em Ess Stable, the Brahms gelding ran the 1 1/8 miles in 1:48.45. His win was also the second in a row in the Swaps for trainer Bruce Headley, who had won with Surf Cat in 2005. Headley became the fifth trainer to win the Swaps, which dates to 1974, in consecutive years.

Point Determined, who had gotten the better of A.P. Warrior in the Affirmed, did so again on Saturday and this time it wasn't even close. He finished eight lengths clear of his rival, who faded to third, beating only overmatched longshot Potential, in a race that featured 23.33, 46.10 and 1:09.85 fractions, compared with 23 4/5 , 46 4/5 and 1:11 splits in the Affirmed.

Solis, who has been aboard for each of Arson Squad's victories, took some blame for the Pennsylvania bred's loss in his first route last month.

"I felt I rode a bad race last time," he said. "I saved a little bit too much and I think I let the other horses get away. I was in a much better spot today. I kept him closer to the leaders.

"He's a very nice horse, he's very good. I knew that he could go long and he proved it today."

Although Headley wouldn't commit to where Arson Squad would run next, the trainer did not rule out the $1-million Pacific Classic on Aug. 20 at Del Mar. After his Swaps win, Surf Cat took on older in that Grade I last year and finished off the board.

"He was really feeling good all week and he never missed an oat," Headley said. "Everything pointed toward a big effort.

"I have to give credit to Samantha and Don Devine for finding this horse. They came and asked me to look at him and I really liked him. He has a great top [sire] line, he was very correct and a good mover. He had everything about him that made him look like a runner."


English Channel ($6.80) won the $750,000 United Nations Handicap at Monmouth Park, beating Cacique and six others in the Grade I at Oceanport, N.J.

John Velazquez rode the 4-year-old Smart Strike colt for owner James Scatuorchio and trainer Todd Pletcher and they completed the 1 3/8 miles over a turf course labeled good in 2:13.24. Better Talk Now, the defending champion, finished fifth.


Wildcat Bettie B, a 5-1 shot, was up in the final strides to beat 18-1 shot Wild Gams in the $250,000 Prioress at Belmont Park. Mario Pino rode the 3-year-old Meadowlake filly for Oasis Racing and trainer Larry Jones. She ran the six furlongs in 1:09.18 in the Grade I.


Circle, the 6-5 favorite, rallied strongly along the rail to win the $150,000 Bashford Manor, a Grade III for 2-year-olds, at Churchill Downs. Two races earlier, Richwoman remained unbeaten in three starts with a victory in the $100,000 Debutante, a Grade III for 2-year-old fillies.

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