05/23/2015 8:50PM

Yonkers: In The Arsenal holds on for Rooney elim victory

Mike Lizzi
In The Arsenal (2) held on to stay perfect in two starts this year.

Despite some anxious moments, In The Arsenal, considered one of the top 3-year-old pacing colts for 2015, was able to fend off Rock N Roll World in the second of two eliminations for the Art Rooney Memorial series at Yonkers Raceway on Saturday night.

In The Arsenal took early command before giving way for the pocket in a 28-second opening quarter. His time in the pocket was short-lived as driver Brian Sears brushed around Rock N Roll World and took command off the second turn.

In The Arsenal continued on to set perhaps too comfortable fractions of 57 2/5 and 1:26 before Rock N Roll World took his shot up the passing lane. Sears was driving confidently at first, but Rock N Roll World continued to come at him and forced the driver to wake up In The Arsenal in deep stretch to dig in for the win in 1:53 1/5.

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National Seelster came uncovered late in the mile and was third ahead of Bet You, who also qualified for the final.

“The horse is very relaxed and lets you do anything you want,” said Sears, before talking about the stretch drive. “He’s a gamer and likes to race with other horses.”

In The Arsenal, second in the Breeders Crown for his division last year, is now perfect in two 2015 starts. Kelvin Harrison trains the colt for White Birch Farm and In The Arsenal Racing.

Sonofa Sizzle stamped himself as a horse to watch in the $380,000 Art Rooney final next Saturday with a strong 1:52 1/5 mile in the first elimination.

Soto did the heavy lifting early in the mile as he wrestled the lead away from Arque Hanover prior to the opening quarter in 27 2/5. Driver Brett Miller would back down the half to just 56 seconds and faced no pressure until Sonofa Sizzle came to call past three quarters in 1:24 1/5.

At the head of the lane, Sonofa Sizzle pulled clear and fended off a late challenge from Betting Exchange for the win. Cartoon Daddy put in an easy mile to be third while Arque Hanover, who sat the pocket before making a break at the head of the lane, recovered late for the final spot in next week’s big dance.

“He did everything I asked of him,” said winning driver Brian Sears, who will likely opt to drive fellow elimination winner In The Arsenal in the final. “He’s real brave right now and really sharp.”

The victory by Sonofa Sizzle was his fourth in five starts this year. The Delaware champion is trained by Josh Green for owner Michael White.