09/03/2015 8:41AM

Yonkers: In The Arsenal has sights set on Messenger win

Mike Lizzi
In The Arsenal came out of his last race a bit sick, but is ready to roll for Saturday's Messenger.

There won’t be the same challenges for In The Arsenal this Saturday night as there were in the opening leg of pacing’s Triple Crown. The sophomore colt paid dearly for trying to leave the gate into Wiggle It Jiggleit in the Cane at the Meadowlands in early August, but that rival won’t be in the lineup for the $500,000 Messenger at Yonkers Raceway.

At the same time, In The Arsenal must meet a field composed of some extremely qualified colts including Adios champion Dude’s The Man. In The Arsenal’s trainer, Kelvin Harrison, likes his chances but respects his rivals equally.

“Dude’s The Man would have won the Cane if he got out,” said Harrison. “He was loaded.”

Indeed, Dude’s The Man would be looking at a second jewel of the Triple Crown had he not been boxed in at the head of the stretch and made a break.

[ YONKERS: Watch the $500K Yonkers Trot and $500K Messenger Pace Saturday--Live on DRF!]

On the other hand, In The Arsenal, already a winner of two major stakes races at Yonkers Raceway over his career (Sheppard & Art Rooney), hopes the return to the Westchester County oval will help him return to the winner’s circle.

“He’s great over the half-mile track,” said Harrison. “He gets around the turns very well.”

That’s generally half the problem for youngsters racing for the first time on a smaller track, but that’s not Harrison’s prime concern. Health has been a key issue for In The Arsenal and some others from his stable.

“He had a bug and we found it out after his last race,” said Harrison, referring to the Empire Breeders Classic, a race that In The Arsenal had a good trip but finished fifth. “I raced two others that weekend, Beach Story and Dapper Dude, and they were both sick too.”

Harrison contends that In The Arsenal was acting good this week and was delighted to give the horse an extra week of rest after eliminations were not needed last Saturday.

A winner in half of his 12 races this year, In The Arsenal has had some major efforts including his 1:51 2/5 victory in late May at Yonkers in the Rooney, but at the same time some bitter disappointments including the Cane and Meadowlands Pace.

“He’s a difficult horse to control when he gets fired up,” said Harrison.

For the most part that has been the undoing of In The Arsenal this year. When he gets too fired up leaving or can’t be controlled while sitting behind other horses, he’s not the same horse. If he can relax early in a race he’s a much more dangerous entity come the homestretch.

Brian Sears will have the assignment on Saturday in the evening’s eighth race to navigate the course with In The Arsenal from post three.

Sitting on the pole position will be the aforementioned Dude’s The Man. He figures to be a major player coming off a pair of third-place finishes in the Cane and most recently the Battle of the Brandywine, where he tracked division leaders Wiggle It Jiggleit and Wakizashi Hanover to the wire. Corey Callahan is once again in the sulky behind the New York-bred son of American Ideal that has largely campaigned away from the Empire State this year with great success. A winner of $518,504 this year, Dude’s The Man has all of the credentials necessary for a victory in the Messenger.

Dealt A Winner is the only Triple Crown hopeful after his stunning victory in the Cane for trainer Mark Silva. The conditioner sends out two for top owner Jeffrey Snyder in the Messenger, with Dealt A Winner leaving from post five and stablemate Rock N’ Roll World starting from post six. Silva conceded a few weeks back that Rock N’ Roll World was probably the better of the two on the half-mile track, but at the same time indicated that Dealt A Winner was the faster of the two. Jason Bartlett’s half-mile track expertise should help Dealt A Winner navigate the course in solid fashion.

National Seelster’s bad luck of the draw in 2015 continues in the Messenger with the multiple New York Sire Stakes champion landing outside again in post eight. The son of Bettor’s Delight also landed the extreme outside post in the Empire Breeders Classic, The Adios and the Hempt finals.

Completing the Messenger field are Revenge Shark (post two), Roland N Rock (post four) and Rollin Ring Afire (post seven).

The Yonkers 13-race program begins at 7:10 p.m. and also includes the $500,000 Yonkers Trot, second jewel in trotting’s Triple Crown.