04/02/2010 11:00PM

Arson Squad ends long drought in Skip Away

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HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - Arson Squad, a leading member of the national handicap division when he arrived in south Florida a year ago, finally got his first victory since then when he rallied to an easy 3 3/4-length decision over longshot Wingedlie in Saturday's Grade 3, $125,000 at Gulfstream Park.

Arson Squad benefited from another heady performance by leading rider Paco Lopez. Taking advantage of a racetrack that favored horses racing on or near the rail all day, Lopez settled Arson Squad in behind the early leaders while allowing him to save ground around the second bend before finding ample room to send the 9-5 favorite through along the rail to take control and draw off impressively through the stretch.

Wingedlie, the longest price on the board at 32-1 in a field of seven older horses, was prominent from the outset, held a short advantage nearing the stretch while racing off the rail, but proved no match for the winner. He outlasted Helsinki by a length to be second. Gabriel's Hill finished a game fourth after breaking poorly.

South American invader Cristiano, Fair Grounds shipper Secret Getaway, and Eldaafer completed the order of finish. Timber Reserve was scratched.

Arson Squad, who finished fourth as the 2-1 favorite in last year's Grade 1 Donn Handicap, registered his first victory since the Grade 2 Meadowlands Cup 18 months ago. A 7-year-old son of Brahms, Arson Squad is trained by Rick Dutrow for the Jay Em Ess Stable. He paid $5.60 after covering 1 3/16 miles in 1:55.65 over a fast track.

"There were a few horses ahead of us in a group at the three-eighths pole, when the three horse [Wingedlie] went there was an opening for me and the rest was perfect," said Lopez.