2015 Sunland Park Derby Picks and Analysis — Firing Line and Where’s the Moon Exacta
Sunland Park Derby-G3
Race 11, Sunland Park, Sunday, March 22, 2015
3-Year-Olds, 1 1/8-miles, Dirt, Purse: $800,000
Sunland Park Derby Picks
1. Firing Line
2. Where’s the Moon
3. Why Too
4. Tiznow R J
Sunland Park Derby Analysis
No matter how you look at it the Sunland Park Derby, it appears to be a two horse race after the scratch of Lord Nelson. Firing Line is the proven class and Where’s the Moon is the sharp local runner with a trainer to match.
Firing Line comes into the race off a head loss to budding superstar Dortmund in the R B Lewis-G3 at Santa Anita and makes his second start off a six week layoff. He ran the biggest Beyer Speed Figure of his career in the Lewis and appeared to tire late after opening up in the stretch. That was his second consecutive head loss to current Kentucky Derby co-favorite Dortmund. He also finished a game second to that one in the 2014 Los Alamitos Futurity. Clearly the class of the field.
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Firing Line has not yet proven himself at the 1 1/8-mile distance, which is why we’ll play him in an exacta box with Where’s the Moon. The latter comes off two straight wins at Sunland Park including a 2 1/2-length victory in the $100,000 Mine That Bird Derby going 1 1/16-miles in his most recent start on February 21. His trainer is also winning at a 31% clip. Both Where’s the Moon and Firing Line have proven they can come from off the pace and they should get a duel to set up their late rallies.
The two main speeds in the race on paper are Why Too and Malibu Mogul, although Firing Line probably has enough class to outrun them both on the lead if he feels like it.
The additional off the pace runners include Dirt Monster, Pain and Misery and Tiznow R J, all of whom can sit just back of the speed along with the favorites. None of the three appears to have the class to go with the top pair late, and it’s tough to pick the third place finisher from the three.
Tiznow R J had the misfortune of running into multiple stakes winner and Kentucky Derby contender International Star in both the Le Comte-G3 and the Risen Star-G2 at Fair Grounds in his last two starts. His last race was not pretty, as he was beaten 11 1/2-lengths in the Risen Star. He’ll need to rebound, but his pedigree says he’ll get the distance, and he’s trained by Steve Asmussen, who is winning at a 33% clip overall and at 20% in graded stakes.
Pain and Misery’s first route try in the San Felipe-G2 at Santa Anita was a bust, as he broke slowly and finished seventh beaten 15 lengths by Dortmund. Whether the proven sprinter will rebound with a better race here is anybody’s guess. Why Too has a nice pedigree with both stamina and class and he’s proven he can win from on or off the pace. Slated to be ridden by top California-based jockey Victor Espinoza,Why Too has won two in a row including a wire-to-wire victory in the $75,000 Turf Paradise Derby in his last start. Could be dangerous with continued improvement.
We’ll box Firing Line and Where’s the Moon in the Sunland Park Derby exacta and hope Where’s the Moon wins at better odds to make the exacta pay. We’ll also take those two on top in the trifecta with Tiznow R J, Why Too and Pain and Misery and also use those three in the third slot in the superfecta with all on the bottom.