06/07/2010 11:00PM

Arson Squad looking to double up


LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Rick Dutrow sent Arson Squad to Churchill Downs in April with a modest goal: win the Grade 3 Alysheba on the Kentucky Oaks undercard.

With that mission accomplished, the Churchill bar has been set higher for Arson Squad. Dutrow left the 7-year-old gelding here with assistant Michelle Nevin following the 2 1/4-length victory on April 30, and the Grade 1 Stephen Foster Handicap looms next.

"He ran so big that I thought, 'Let's just keep him here and go for the next one,' " Dutrow said this week from New York. "He's training really, really good there. I expect him to run another big race this time around, too."

Arson Squad, an earner of more than $1.1 million for Jay Em Ess Stable, will share top weight of 120 pounds with Blame and General Quarters among a prospective field of 10 older horses in the $600,000 Foster, a 1 1/8-mile race that will be run Saturday for the 29th time.

All three highweights have won races of note at Churchill: Arson Squad won the Alysheba, Blame won the Grade 2 Clark here last fall, and General Quarters captured the Grade 1 Woodford Reserve Turf Classic on the May 1 Kentucky Derby undercard.

This is what the Churchill racing office was expecting when Foster entries were drawn Wednesday: Blame, 120; Arson Squad, 120; General Quarters, 120; Battle Plan, 119; No Advantage, 117; Duke of Mischief, 116; Macho Again, 116; Giant Oak, 115; Honest Man, 115; and A.U. Miner, 113.

Besides the Foster, the Saturday card also will include the Grade 2, $200,000 Fleur de Lis Handicap, expected to draw Rachel Alexandra, and three Grade 3 stakes: the $125,000 Northern Dancer, the $125,000 Regret, and the $100,000 Jefferson Cup.

Also Saturday, Churchill is reviving its Kentucky Derby Alumni theme for the first time in about 10 years.

The local weather forecast for the weekend calls for high temperatures of about 90 on both Friday and Saturday.

Mine That Bird completes third drill for Lukas

Mine That Bird, the 2009 Kentucky Derby winner, had his third workout since coming under the care of D. Wayne Lukas, going five furlongs in 1:02 on Tuesday morning at Churchill with regular rider Calvin Borel aboard.

Breezing over a fast track shortly after the regularly scheduled renovation break, Mine That Bird went in fractions of 13 and 37.80 seconds, with a six-furlong gallop-out time of 1:17.20, according to Churchill clocker John Nichols.

"He didn't go too quick, which was fine because we're just trying to get a good bottom in him," Lukas said.

Mine That Bird has not raced since finishing ninth in the Nov. 7 Breeders' Cup Classic, when he was still trained by Chip Woolley. Lukas assumed his training May 20. The 4-year-old gelding worked three furlongs May 26 and a half-mile June 2.

Lukas has targeted the Aug. 7 Whitney at Saratoga as the first major goal for Mine That Bird, with a less demanding prep race perhaps coming several weeks before then.

Opening Verse tops Friday night card

A terrific 11-race card is on tap for Friday, when more than 30,000 ontrack fans are expected for the first of four night programs at the meet.

The feature will be the $62,000 Opening Verse, a 1 1/16-mile turf race that drew a stakes-quality lineup, most notably Furthest Land, winner of the 2009 Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile. Others in a field of 10 include stakes winners Yate's Black Cat, Tizdejavu, Timeless Fashion, and Demarcation.

First post is 6 p.m. Eastern, with the Opening Verse, the 10th race, set for 10:52 and the last race going at 11:20. Three more Friday night cards will be run, June 18, June 25, and July 2.