03/04/2010 1:00AM

Arson Squad looks to halt losing streak


OLDSMAR, Fla. - Arson Squad, a graded stakes winner who has raced with the likes of Well Armed, Albertus Maximus, and Grasshopper in recent starts, looks for his first win since taking the Grade 2 Meadowlands Cup in October 2008 when he tops a field of eight older horses at Tampa Bay Downs in the $65,000 Challenger Stakes over 1 1/16 miles.

Arson Squad, 7, made only three starts last season, finishing fourth in the Grade 1 Donn behind Albertus Maximus, then travelling to Dubai to race in the Dubai World Cup. He never threatened in that $6 million race, finishing 11th in the field of 14 behind Well Armed. He came back to be a fast-closing fourth behind Macho Again in the Grade 1 Stephen Foster at Churchill and then was sidelined from June until February, when he made his 2010 debut in an optional claiming route going a mile at Gulfstream Park. Last in the early going, Arson Squad rallied to finish third, beaten 1 1/2 lengths by graded stakes winner Grasshopper.

Leading rider Daniel Centeno has the mount on Arson Squad for trainer Rick Dutrow.

Bold Start, a front-running winner over optional claiming runners going a mile Feb. 21 at Gulstream Park, tops the challengers, along with Timber Reserve, who came off a short rest with a nose win going nine furlongs against optional claimers at Gulfstream.

Bold Start counted the Grade 3 Aristides going six furlongs at Churchill among his wins last season, while making most of his starts against stakes company. The Ken McPeek trainee has won 10 of 35 starts and figures to be a sharp pace factor Saturday.

TImber Reserve, who is trained by John Kimmel, won the Grade 2 Pennslyvania Derby as a 3-year-old in 2007 and ran third in a pair of overnight stakes at Aqueduct and Belmont last year. He finished third behind Arson Squad in the 2008 Meadowlands Cup.

War Fighter, a close third sprinting in the Pelican here and the pacesetter to midstretch last fall in the Grade 2 Ohio Derby, tops the local hopefuls for trainer Jamie Ness.