04/12/2011 2:39PM

Aqueduct feature assembles classy cast

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Tom Keyser
Arson Squad, with Paco Lopez up, wins the 2010 Alysheba at Churchill Downs.

OZONE PARK, N.Y. – Eight older runners who have won a combined 64 races and $3.3 million square off in Thursday’s $60,000 Irish Tower out of Aqueduct’s main-track chute at one mile.

The lineup includes the favorite and second choice from this year’s General George Handicap, the last two winners of the Queens County, a Grade 1 winner who rates only as the third choice on the morning line, and features the return of Arson Squad, a nine-time winner who has earned nearly $1.2 million, who missed the J. B. Campbell and the Stymie in February because of a foot infection.

Arson Squad had a solid campaign for Rick Dutrow at age 7, winning stakes at three tracks with identical 101 Beyer Speed Figures. A good effort first out in three months could propel him to a race like the Grade 3, one-mile Westchester at Belmont Apr. 30, though Dutrow said, “I’m happy to have him ready to run, and there is nothing past this race that I’m looking for.”

Dutrow could have a Westchester starter in any event with Laysh Laysh Laysh, the 2-1 morning-line choice, who was a neck away from three wins Jan. 9-17, before coming up a neck short as the General George favorite.

The deep-closing Laysh Laysh Laysh returned from a freshening to run fifth in Saturday’s Carter, making up nearly 10 lengths in the last three furlongs.

“He’s been doing good for a while,” said Dutrow. “He fits with these and he should run big.”

Teaks North was a stakes winner on turf and dirt at Monmouth Park last year, prompting trainer Justin Sallusto to predict, “I think he’ll do big things on either surface.” He was proven correct when the gelding surged late to pull off a 25-1 upset in the Grade 1 Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap in his first start as a 4-year-old, nosing out subsequent Mervin Muniz Jr. Handicap winner Smart Bid, and giving Sallusto his first graded stakes victory.

Teaks North comes out of a fifth-place finish in a tough renewal of the Grade 3 Tampa Bay, and has won twice going turf to dirt.

Meanwhile, Ramon Dominguez gets off Arson Squad and stays on Rodman, who won the ’09 Queens County for Mike Hushion, but was then sidelined for over a year by a foot injury and a severe bout of colic.

Rodman’s only start of the winter was a runner-up finish with Dominguez in a slow-paced optional claiming sprint nearly two months ago.

The durable More Than a Reason won the Queens County in the first of seven starts at the inner-track meet. He has already run in the Excelsior and Carter in April for Randi Persaud, and makes his 69th start overall.

The field is completed by Independence War, a close second in the Grade 3 Tobbogan three back; and Streetsofbrooklyn, idle since fading at 4-1 in the General George.

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