05/22/2007 11:00PM

Arran Pilot wins after 3-year layoff


When a horse wins in his first attempt back from a layoff of more than three years, it would be considered a surprise under normal circumstances. That was not the case for Arran Pilot, who led gate-to-wire last Friday in a nonwinners-of-two claimer and paid $4.60 as the favorite.

Friday's race was the first start for Arran Pilot since Dec. 5, 2003, when he finished second in a $32,000 claimer at Golden Gate Fields. Given the quality of the opposition he was facing last week, bettors didn't seem too concerned about the layoff, nor did trainer Gerald Butler, who gallops his own horses. Butler was aboard Arran Pilot for a recorded three-furlong breeze in 35 seconds May 12, a work that tipped-off the gelding's condition. Butler said he caught Arran Pilot completing four-furlongs in 44 seconds.

Arran Pilot had been fit to run earlier in the meet, but other ailments kept creeping up at inopportune times.

"He had to be scratched a few times due to a case of the hives, but that finally began to clear up," Butler said.

Arran Pilot, who bowed a tendon last year, is next headed to the turf, a surface that should be more forgiving considering his past injury. Butler said he's hoping to find a nonwinners-of-three allowance at Indiana Downs for the 7-year-old son of Wolfhound, who was bred in England and began his racing career there in 2002. Indeed, Arran Pilot had an interesting early career that included a pair of stakes-placings at Sandown and a start in a listed stakes at the 2002 Royal Ascot meeting.