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In The Arsenal Wins Art Rooney Pace

Published: May 30, 2015 11:56 pm ET

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Favoured In The Arsenal (Brian Sears, $2.50, part of entry) prevailed after making it interesting Saturday night, winning Yonkers Raceway’s $300,000 final of the Art Rooney Pace.

Eight three-year-olds — seven colts and one geldings — went postward in the 25th Rooney, which began in 1989, a year after the death of Art Rooney Sr.

In The Arsenal, unhurried early from post position No. 2, saw pole-sitting Rock N Roll World (Dan Dube) make the first lead before a visit from the winner’s entrymate, Betting Exchange (Dave Miler). That one, denied an early pocket by the eventual winner, made the lead just after a :27.2 opening quarter-mile.

In The Arsenal then moved from third, getting around his stable buddy right around the :56-second intermission.

Soon after, Arque Hanover (Jason Bartlett) was put in play, going after In The Arsenal toward a 1:24 three-quarters. In The Arsenal eventually disposed of that one, taking a length lead into the lane.

He was home free by a cozy margin...until he bore right a path or so and appeared to pull himself up. Betting Exchange was the main beneficiary, ducking inside to make it close. Not close enough, however, as In The Arsenal prevailed by a diminishing head in 1:51.2. Betting Exchange made the entry 1-2, with Rock N Roll World third, beaten a length. Arque Hanover and National Seelster (Eric Carlson) came away with the remainder, with Cartoon Daddy (Mark MacDonald), Bet You (Tyler Buter) and Sonofa Sizzle (George Brennan) completing the order.

In The Arsenal, a $7,500 “buyback” son of American Ideal, is trained by Kelvin Harrison for co-owners (breeder) White Birch Farm and In The Arsenal Racing. The win was his third in as many seasonal starts (career nine-for-14, earnings of $581,843).

The exacta (Rock N Roll World ‘second’) paid $5.70, with the triple (Arque Hanover ‘third’) returning $18.

It was Sears’ third win in the Rooney, after Badlands Nitro (2008) and Pet Rock (2012, stakes-record 1:51).

“I was thinking about letting [Betting Exchange] in early, but In The Arsenal can grab on a bit, so I kept him going," said Sears. "As far as what happened [with the bolt] late, I have no idea. He gave no inclination, and I have no explanation, other than to say he’s learning. Luckily, no one was outside of me.”

In The Arsenal has been ranked as one of the top three contenders for the upcoming Pepsi North America Cup, assessed at odds of 6-1, in Trot Magazine's Spring Book.

After a $7,500 farm buyback (In The Arsenal) won the $300,000 Art Rooney Pace Saturday night, the bargain-basement theme continued.

Purrfect Bags (Vic Kirby, $24.60), who sold for all of $2,000, rolled through the lane, winning Yonkers Raceway’s $117,724 Lismore for three-year-old pacing fillies.

Unraced pari-mutuelly for 52 days and with three qualifiers leading into her local debut, Purrfect Bags — from post No. 5 — watched as Totally Rusty (Jason Bartlett), the only $15,000 supplemental entrant into this race, made the lead before a :27.3 opening quarter-mile. That one’s wagering partner, Strut My Stuff (Jordan Stratton) was settled, as Sassa Hanover (George Brennan), the 2-5 choice, received her marching orders.

“Sass” found the front, setting a spiffy :55.3 half when Bedroomconfessions (Brian Sears) moved from fourth. Purrfect Bags was behind her in and out of a 1:24.3 three-quarters. Meanwhile, Sassa Hanover had a couple of lengths turning for home, but Purrfect Bags was launched.

She went up and over the leader, widening to win by two lengths in a season’s-best 1:52.3. Sassa Hanover was second, with Bedroomconfessions third. Strut My Stuff and Totally Rusty settled for the minor moolah, while Special Package (Dave Miller) was outrun.

For third choice Purrfect Bags, the win was her third in four ’15 tries (career 10-for-12, earnings of $205,612). The daughter of Roddys Bags Again is owned by JoAnn Looney-King and trained by her husband Jim King Jr.

The exacta paid $48.80, with no triple wagering due to the abbreviated number (five) of wagering interests.

“[Trainer] Jim [King Jr.] had her very sharp,” Kirby said. “She really only had to pace about an eighth of a mile, and when I asked her, she just put her butt down and took off.

“Her last race [a statebred final at Dover Downs] was all my fault. I drove her very badly. She has a burst of speed, I’m just glad to have a chance to drive her and tonight was definitely worth the trip.”

“When I bought her [for $2,000], my husband wasn’t very pleased," said Ms. King, who won this race a season ago as trainer of Tyra. “She's the same as Tyra. Both are very fast and both try very hard.”

(With files from Yonkers Raceway)

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