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Firing Line Takes Aim in Preakness Stakes 2015

Firing Line Takes Aim in Preakness Stakes 2015: Firing Line has played second fiddle to fellow top three-year-olds in most of his past races, but perhaps in the Preakness the colt will take center stage on Saturday, May 16, 2015 at Pimlico Race Course.

Firing Line Preakness Stakes 2015

Firing Line has played second fiddle to fellow top three-year-olds in most of his past races, but perhaps in the Preakness the colt will take center stage on Saturday, May 16, 2015 at Pimlico Race Course. Photo: Latt

The bay colt by Line of David and out of the Hold for Gold mare Sister Girl Blues has had a fairly heartbreaking time on the track. As is quite typical of first-timers, he took two starts to break his maiden, but he finished second in his debut and took that second start by a solid 4-1/4 lengths.

The Arnold Zetcher-owned Firing Line was then thrust into the front lines in the Los Alamitos Futurity (GI). It was in that first stakes race that he hooked up with Dortmund, a towering chestnut colt who would become his most formidable foe. A three-way shootout between those two and Mr. Z ensued, but it was the determined Dortmund who got his head out in front of Firing Line at the wire with Mr. Z a nose back in third.

With the experience of a tough juvenile race under his belt, Firing Line returned as a three-year-old in the Robert B. Lewis Stakes (GIII). The ensuing rematch with Dortmund saw the chestnut and bay pair break free of the rest of the field by 21-1/2 lengths, but it was again a mere head that separated the two at the wire. Although Firing Line had looked to have the big chestnut put away around the turn, Dortmund regained the lead to deny the promising son of Line of David yet again.

Escaping Dortmund’s shadow, Firing Line traveled to Sunland Park to try to claim the Sunland Derby (GIII). He did so quite impressively, winning his final Kentucky Derby (GI) prep by 14-1/4 lengths and convincing racing fans that he should not be overlooked on the first Saturday in May.

In the 2015 edition of the “Run for the Roses,” Firing Line fired on all cylinders. Prompting the pace set by Dortmund throughout, Firing Line and his familiar foe ran head-to-head at the one-mile pole, but down the homestretch, it was the bay leading the chestnut. Although American Pharoah powered home on the outside as the winner, Firing Line had achieved much in defeating Dortmund and finishing second by only a length.

In contrast to some of the other Preakness probables, Firing Line has little to prove. He can certainly handle the 1-3/16 miles of the Pimlico oval, he has the willingness to fight, he boasts of a record full of wins or runner-up finishes in his six starts, and he’s ridden by expert jockey Gary Stevens. Perhaps his fatal flaw in the Kentucky Derby was his failure to change leads in the stretch – had he done so, the horse wearing the roses could have been a bit different.

Trainer Simon Callaghan certainly recognizes his colt’s Preakness potential. “Firing Line came out of the Kentucky Derby in excellent condition, and we could not be happier with him,” Callaghan beamed in an email. The colt has remained at Churchill Downs since the Derby and will ship to Baltimore on Wednesday.

Callaghan expects the ever-consistent Firing Line to perform up to par yet again in the Pimlico classic. Following the Preakness, the colt’s plans will depend on his condition after two grueling races. Callaghan expanded on this, saying, “As the summer progresses, we would like to have races like the Haskell and Travers as potential goals.”

The big three of the Kentucky Derby are all heading to Baltimore, and the capture of the blanket of Black-Eyed Susans is far from a longshot for Firing Line.

Preakness Stakes 2015 Post Positions & Odds
Race 13 6:18 pm ET
1 American Pharoah 4-5 Espinoza/Baffert
2 Dortmund 7-2 Garcia/Baffert
3 Mr. Z 20-1 Nakatani/Lukas
4 Danzig Moon 15-1 Leparoux/Casse
5 Tale of Verve 30-1 Rosario/Stewart
6 Bodhisatttva 20-1 McCarthy/Corrales
7 Divining Rod 12-1 Castellano/Delacour
8 Firing Line 4-1 Stevens/Callaghan

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