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Sunland Derby Betting – Firing Line Sets His Sights On The Finish Line

Posted by on 3/19/2015 12:18:16 AM

The Grade-3 Sunland Derby is an official prep race for the Kentucky Derby, and it is held at Sunland Park in New Mexico. This race is for three-year-olds as we get into Derby season, and it is run on dirt over 1 1/8 miles with a massive purse of $800,000.

The winner of this race has a chance to go on to one of the bigger prep races next month, and while this is a deep field, look for Firing Line to leave the rest in his dust on Sunday.

What : Horse Betting

When : Sunday, March 22nd, post time TBA

Where : Sunland Park, Sunland Park, NM

Pick : Firing Line

Bad Read Sanchez was last seen coming off a third at the Grade-2 Best Pal Stakes, but this will be the first time that this thoroughbred has run a graded-stakes event on dirt, and he has never run more than 6 1/2 furlongs. The Best Pal Stakes was also back in August of last year, so rust could be an issue and that makes it tough to handicap this colt.

Dirt Monster has finished third at the non-graded Riley Allison and the Mine That Bird Derby, which have both taken place in 2015 and both were at Sunland Park, so he is familiar to a crowd that should give him some support. While this is his graded-stakes debut. Dirt Monster is an intriguing option and should offer some nice value.

Firing Line finished second to Dortmund at the Grade-2 Robert B. Lewis last month in his 2015 debut, and he has now finished first or second in all four of his starts, although two were maiden races and one was a non-graded futurity event as a two-year-old last year. Still, going up against against a strong horse like Dortmund was good practice for Firing Line, who might be the favorite going into Sunday's race.

Lord Nelson has three wins in six starts, breaking his maiden on his first try, then the non-graded Speakeasy last October and then the Grade-2 San Vicente in February. He has two fourth-place finishes in graded-stakes races, including the Grade-2 San Felipe (which was also won by Dortmund, which might be the Kentucky Derby favorite right now) earlier this month, and he should be able to run up front in this field as he has seen better horses. Can he close well enough to earn the victory? We'll see on Sunday.

Rock Shandy finished third at the Robert B. Lewis to earn another shot to get to Churchill Downs, and he has finished in the money in four of his five starts after finishing eighth in his first maiden try. His last two starts were on dirt, which was needed after three starts on turf, but Rock Shandy hasn't run more than 1 1/16 miles, so keep an eye on his closing kick down the stretch.

Tiznow R.J. might need a good performance more than any other horse in the field after finishing seventh at the Grade-2 Risen Star. It took him three tries to break his maiden and then he finished third at the Grade-3 Lecomte to open up 2015, but his showing at the Risen Star set him back and he is another horse that hasn't run more than 1 1/16 miles. Tiznow R.J. might need the best effort of the day to even get another crack at a Kentucky Derby prep race.

Verraco has a sixth in a maiden-special-weight race, a fifth and a win in two maiden-claiming races, and a win and a second in two allowance race. He has raced on dirt, synthetic and turf, but nothing longer than 1 1/16 miles. He is definitely not a specialty horse and that hurts his chances against a field of horses that were bred for a shot at the Derby.

Where's The Moon won the Mine That Bird Derby, although he has three finishes of sixth or worse and has yet to break his maiden. All three maiden tries (two at special weight, one at claiming) have come on different surfaces and he is another horse that hasn't run more than 1 1/16 miles. Was his win a fluke? Where's The Moon has a lot to prove on Sunday.

Why Two rounds out the field and he broke his maiden on his second try, then won the non-graded Turf Paradise (which was run on dirt, ironically). He hasn't run more than 1 1/16 miles, but he has good company in this field and Why Two could definitely stir the pot up on Sunday.

How It Will Play Out

This is a pretty tight field, especially at the top, but Firing Line should get to the winner's circle in what should be a very exciting race.

Sunland Derby Betting Pick: Firing Line

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