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Looking Back At the Los Alamitos Futurity and Ahead to 2015

Looking Back At the Los Alamitos Futurity and Ahead to 2015: When one is asked why they love horse racing, a lot of common answers are “it’s an adrenaline rush” or “I love trying to pick a winner out of multiple good horses.” With the Road to the Kentucky Derby passing through Los Alamitos this weekend, the adrenaline definitely was pumping in many. The reason horse racing is so exciting can easily be explained by saying, “Watch the 2014 Los Alamitos Futurity.”

Dortmund, Mr. Z, Firing Line

In a blanket photo finish, three horses got some much needed experience and one horse, Dortmund, remained undefeated when he won the head bob over a game Firing Line and Mr. Z on Saturday, December 20, 2014.
Photo: Benoit

In a blanket photo finish, three horses got some much needed experience and one horse, Dortmund, remained undefeated when he won the head bob over a game Firing Line and Mr. Z. The early Kentucky Derby favorite, for the first time, experienced two turns, the feel of Martin Garcia’s whip, and game competitors. With the experience all three received in the finish of the Los Alamitos Futurity (G1), it will come in handy as they move into their sophomore year.

Dortmund, the winner, broke evenly with the rest of the field. He briefly stuck his head in front before Martin Garcia allowed Mr. Z and Firing Line move into contention with one another to set suicide fractions for the 8.5 furlong contest. The son of Big Brown didn’t handle the tight turns too well, considering his enormous side. Bob Baffert was concerned with the turns, but still had confidence in his newest Kentucky Derby prospect. In Dortmund’s race, it showed that he has a lot of heart and gameness. He gained a lot in victory, even displaying that he wants more ground. With being four wide coming into the stretch, Dortmund had to really set down and get into the bridle. His pedigree surely helped him be as game as he was. The son of Big Brown has the stamina to stay competitive as the distances continue to get longer, but has the speed influence through the Tale of the Cat sire line on his distaff side. Tale of the Cat was able to hang at 9F, but was consistently a sprinter. Dortmund is a deserving early Kentucky Derby favorite, but is now among the talk for 2014 Eclipse Award Two-Year-Old Male.

Firing Line, also trying two turns for the first time, showed how game he was after pushing Mr. Z through the quick pace which ultimately set a track record for Dortmund. Firing Line was coming into the G1 Los Alamitos Futurity off an impressive maiden score in a 6.5F race at Del Mar. With the dogfight that occurred throughout the entire race, Firing Line will surely have much needed experience in his next start. He also earned four points toward a starting gate in the Kentucky Derby, which could come in handy as he proceeds down the Road to the Kentucky Derby. Firing Line has a very interesting pedigree, with a very nice blend of stamina and speed, mixed in on both sides. As a son of Lion of David, winner of the 2010 Arkansas Derby, Firing Line should had the stamina to get the extra distance as races get longer in 2015. In his distaff line, Firing Line is out of the Hold for Gold mare, Sister Girl Blues, who finished second in the 9F G1 Vanity Handicap behind Azeri. Hold for Gold never made a start, but his sire, Red Ransom, has done well to carry on the Roberto sire line. Throughout Firing Line’s pedigree, horses such Mr. Prospector, Native Dancer, Damascus, Northern Dancer, Seattle Slew, and Secretariat can be found. Firing Line, in three starts, has never been out of the money, with one win and two second place finished. He should improve nicely in 2015.

Mr. Z is a multiple graded stakes placed son of Malibu Moon. Owned by Zayat Stables, Mr. Z has yet to put it all together with only one win in eight starts. In his races, Mr. Z seems to quit when the going gets tough. He stalls when he gets challenged in the stretch, usually giving in just enough to get caught at the wire. With a more than classic pedigree, Mr. Z should improve in 2015, but has yet to show the promise he displayed in his maiden score. Maybe Mr. Z finally got the experience mentally needed that will propel him forward in his sophomore year that will make him a bigger threat and a more prominent choice for a Kentucky Derby starter. D. Wayne Lukas knows how to get horses ready for the spring Classics, but maybe Mr. Z needs a new touch. He has been run hard since he began his career, and rest may do the colt a world of good.

Bench Warrant finished 8 ¼ lengths back in fourth after trailing the field. The son of Street Boss and a Meadowlake mare is likely to need more time to mature and shorter distances. Street Boss was a quality sprinter, winning races such as the G1 Bing Crosby and G1 Triple Bend Invitational Handicap. He also finished third in the 2008 G1 Breeders’ Cup Sprint behind Midnight Lute. Street Boss is out of the Ogygian mare, Blushing Ogygian, who has passed on the speed aspect of the Damascus sire line. On the distaff line, Bench Warrant has Meadowlake, another sprint-type horse, as well as Relaunch, who played bridesmaid in most of his races, such as the G1 San Antonio Stakes. While Bench Warrant does have some stamina influences, he is likely to revert to sprinting distances and find his sweet spot between six and seven furlongs, maybe even trying turf down the road.

No Problem is a part of the first crop of grade two winner Munnings. No Problem was the only graded stakes winner in the G1 Los Alamitos Futurity field. He won the G3 Best Pal Stakes in November, going seven furlongs on the all weather track at Del Mar. No Problem stuck right behind Dortmund for most of the race, and briefly challenged on the turn and part of the stretch before weakening and six lengths behind Bench Warrant. Munnings was a sprinter, and No problem is out of the Orientate Mare, Brief Tears. Brief Tears was unraced, but Orientate was a multiple graded stakes winner, including the G1 Forego Stakes and the G1 Breeders’ Cup Sprint in 2002. No Problem has stamina influenced in parts of his pedigree but is mostly geared toward speed. He has a double dose of Mr. Prospector, Secretariat, and also has Carson City, Speightstown, and Gone West sprinkled throughout his bloodlines. No Problem is likely to make a quality sprinter in his future career, but the Kentucky Derby trail should be abandoned to explore new options.

The Los Alamitos Futurity was an excellent example of why so many love this sport and shows that horses want to run. They want to be competitive and they want to win. Determination will come in handy as the top three finishers continue on toward Louisville. Can Bob Baffert get his currently undefeated young colt the Kentucky Derby? He as been so close to winning the Derby in the past few years and has accomplished it before, could he do it again with a horse that he admits reminds him of his Preakness winner, Point Given? Can D. Wayne Lukas get Mr. Z another much needed win in 2015 and get his horse to Louisville? Or will Firing Line mature and show his heart and determination to meet Dortmund again, possible turning the tables the second time? Horse racing has a great year ahead of it, especially with all the promising two-year-olds continuing on as three-year-olds to attempt to make history.

Los Alamitos Futurity 2014 Replay: