Firing Line dominates in winning Sunland Derby

Sunland Park, NM ( – Odds-on favorite Firing Line drew away
effortlessly down the stretch to capture Sunday’s $800,000 Sunland Derby at
Sunland Park.

Trained by Simon Callaghan for Arnold Zetcher, Firing Line went off as the 1-5
favorite in the seven-horse field of 3-year-olds after the early scratch of
Lord Nelson, the 3-1 program second pick.

Firing Line, with Hall of Fame jockey Gary Stevens again in the saddle, broke
sharply from the inside post but allowed Malibu Mogul to set the pace in the 1
1/8-mile stakes.

The favorite, racing along the rail, advanced into first on the far turn and
convincingly pulled away from him competition. Firing Line posted a dominating
14 1/4-length victory to put himself squarely into the Kentucky Derby

“It wasn’t an ideal trip,” Stevens said, “it looked a lot simpler that it was
out there. I didn’t like it when we drew the 1 hole, the race was loaded with
other pace. This colt, he probably handles things a lot better than I did out
there. He makes easy work of it.

“The best thing he’s got going for him is his mind, he’s way beyond his only
four race career right now, as far as where he is mentally. He was battled
tested in his last race against Dortmund, so it was kind of nice to get an
easy one into him today.”

Taking the Sunland Derby was worth 50 points for Firing Line toward a place
in the 20-horse starting field for this year’s Kentucky Derby on May 2.

Finishing a distant second was Where’s the Moon followed by Pain and Misery,
Tiznow R J, Dirt Monster, Why Two and Malibu Mogul..

The time for the Sunland Derby was 1:47.39 on a fast track, establishing a new
stakes record.

Firing Line picked up $400,000 with the win to bring his career earnings to
$574,800 with two wins and three seconds in five starts.

The colt was second in his career debut at Santa Anita last October, but won
the next month at Del Mar. Firing Line ran up against Dortmund, as Stevens
stated, the next two starts, getting second both times as he dropped head
decisions in the Los Alamitos Futurity and Robert B. Lewis Stakes.

Firing Line paid $2.40, $2.10 and $2.10. Where’s The Moon returned $4.40 and
$3.00, Pain and Misery paid $4.80 to show.