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Arson Squad may go in Cigar
OZONE PARK, N.Y. - There could be a change of plans for Arson Squad.
Initially scheduled to run in the Grade 2 Clark Handicap at Churchill Downs on Nov. 28, Meadowlands Cup winner Arson Squad is now under serious consideration for the Grade 1, $300,000 Cigar Mile at Aqueduct the following day, trainer Richard Dutrow Jr. said Monday.
Citing the $100,000 purse cut of the Clark (now worth $400,000), a lack of suitable speed horses to run against Commentator in that race, and a potentially easier field in the Cigar, Dutrow sounds content to keep Arson Squad home. The Cigar Mile field is expected to be topped by Tale of Ekati, Visionaire, Harlem Rocker, Kodiak Kowboy - all 3-year-olds - and the 5-year-old Bribon.
"We're leaning toward staying here if Commentator goes there and they don't have any last-minute good horses coming here,'' Dutrow said after Arson Squad breezed six furlongs in 1:12.64 over Aqueduct's main track. "I think Arson Squad is better than the 3-year-olds you just mentioned. We want to have our best chance to win.''
Dutrow said both options "are wide open,'' noting he still has a plane lined up to take Arson Squad to Kentucky and has Edgar Prado to ride in either race.
In his first start for Dutrow, Arson Squad won the Meadowlands Cup by 2 1/2 lengths, running 1 1/8 miles in 1:48.81 and earning a Beyer Speed Figure of 103. The win ended a seven-race losing streak for Arson Squad, who had run his previous seven races on synthetic surfaces. Arson Squad is 6 for 11 on dirt, with three wins around one turn. The Cigar is a one-turn mile.
Dutrow is leery of running against the speedy Commentator, who won the Grade 1 Whitney and the Massachusetts Handicap in his last two starts. If the late-running Arson Squad were to run in the Clark, Dutrow would want to also run one or two "rabbits,'' or speed horses to keep Commentator occupied on the front end. Dutrow did a similar thing in the 2005 Woodward, using two rabbits to soften up Commentator and set up things for his Saint Liam, who won the race.
"The rabbits I have, they're not the ones I've had in the past,'' Dutrow said. "He'd probably be laughing at my rabbits."
Dutrow ready to go international
Dutrow gained worldwide fame by winning the Kentucky Derby and Preakness with Big Brown. Now, he has the potential to make his mark on two major international races. Dutrow is pointing Kip Deville to the Hong Kong Mile on Dec. 14, one week after possibly running Frost Giant in the Japan Cup Dirt on Dec. 7.
On Monday, Kip Deville, the 2007 Breeders' Cup Mile winner and runner-up to Goldikova in this year's BC Mile, worked a pedestrian five furlongs in 1:06.87 on dirt under jockey Cornelio Velasquez. Despite the slow time, Dutrow said he is pleased with how Kip Deville has done since the Breeders' Cup.
"I saw a very good picture - he went very good,'' Dutrow said. "Cornelio was very happy with the horse, so we're very happy with Kip. He always breezes good on the dirt here.''
Frost Giant, who won the Grade 1 Suburban in July, has not run since being eased in the Northern Dancer on turf at Woodbine. Frost Giant was scheduled to breeze at Aqueduct on Tuesday morning.
One horse Dutrow is looking forward to running in America is the 2-year-old filly Ain't Love Grand, who is being targeted for the Grade 2, $200,000 Demoiselle here on Nov. 29. Ain't Love Grand is coming off an 11-length maiden win in the slop going seven furlongs on Oct. 5.
Ain't Love Grand worked a slow five furlongs in 1:05.99 Monday morning.
Chip Dutrow going out on his own
Sydney Dutrow, better known as Chip and the younger brother of trainers Tony and Rick, is going out on his own. Chip Dutrow has two horses previously trained by Bobby Frankel, including Artistic Talent, who is entered in the same $35,000 claiming race on turf Wednesday and Thursday. The horse will run Thursday.
Dutrow, who turns 49 on Dec. 1, had trained for six months in Maryland from October 2002 to April 2003. He won 8 races from 41 starters before quitting.
"I was going through a divorce and things weren't going well for me,'' Dutrow said. "My mind wasn't into it anymore. I decided to give up what I had left to Tony and get out."
Dutrow was seen often this spring as his brother Rick campaigned Big Brown. But Chip Dutrow said it was his sons, Blake, 17, and Ryan, 15, who urged him to get his license again.
"If I didn't have my two sons, I'd roll with Rick the rest of my life and root for him and love every second of it,'' he said.
Chip Dutrow will be based at Belmont this winter and hopes owners like Michael Dubb and Sanford Goldfarb, who have horses with Tony and Rick, are inclined to give him some, too.
Dutrow also explained the genesis of his name and nickname. He was named after Syd Follen, the first owner to give his father, Dick Dutrow Sr., horses. He was given his nickname, Chip, after a friend of his father's, Chip Weeks, who was killed in a car accident.
"I was called Chip ever since I could crawl,'' he said.
Lord Snowdon nears return
Tony Dutrow was at Aqueduct on Monday morning working a bunch of horses that should run this winter, including Lord Snowdon, who is nearing a return from a layoff. Lord Snowdon won the Paumonok over the inner track in January, then finished second in the Grade 2 General George at Laurel, fourth in the Grade 1 Carter, third in the Metropolitan Handicap, and fourth in the Don Levine Memorial at Philadelphia before getting a vacation.
Dutrow said that he may try to stretch out Lord Snowdon in distance for the winter.
"Last year, he began to fall out of his races,'' Dutrow said. "He's always wanted to do that, but I think as he's getting older now it's not looking like to me that he's got much of a chance sprinting anymore.''
Dutrow still has plenty of sprint prospects, including Ferocious Fires, who is pointing to the Fall Highweight Handicap on Thanksgiving, and Cavallo Pazzo, who finished second in the James B. Moseley Handicap at Suffolk last out.
Dutrow also said that Sherine, a New York-bred 3-year-old filly who won the Grade 2 Comely here last April, was sold by Ahmed Zayat to owners Michael Dubb and Stuart Grant and will stay with Dutrow. Sherine has not run since finishing sixth in the Black Eyed Susan Stakes at Pimlico.
* Jockey Javier Castellano will miss this week as he takes a seven-day riding suspension initially handed to him for an incident at Belmont on July 18.
* Beginning Wednesday, Rajiv Maragh will serve a three-day suspension for a careless riding incident in last Thursday's first race. The suspension was reduced from seven days because Maragh waived his right of appeal.