Firing Line in prime spot for Los Alamitos Futurity

BY foxsports • December 18, 2014

The Grade 1, $500,000 Los Alamitos Futurity features a quintet of juveniles who may officially be on the Road to the Kentucky Derby after the race, which awards important points toward a start on the first Saturday in May. Leading the field is Dortmund, unproven in stakes competition but having won impressively in both of his starts to date.

The most accomplished runner is Mr. Z, coming off a nose defeat in the Grade 3, $1 million Delta Jackpot Stakes last month. Firing Line won his last start impressively and appears to be improving, while No Problem is the only horse among the quintet to have won a stakes race, having taken the Grade 3 Bob Hope Stakes last month. Bench Warrant rounds out the field.

Firing Line showed excellent physical and mental ability in his debut although he finished second. He did so after breaking last of 12 before rallying determinedly to miss by a half-length at the end. With a better beginning in his second career start last month, Firing Line won as he pleased by 4 1/4 lengths and earned a 95 Equibase Speed Figure. Likely to take another step forward, he could earn his first stakes win in the Los Alamitos Futurity.

Dortmund won as he pleased on Nov. 2 in his career debut when showing maturity and rallying from off the pace, coasting to a 4¾-length win in a field of 11. That victory came at Santa Anita. But for his second start, trainer Bob Baffert shipped him to Kentucky to run at Churchill Downs, where Dortmund demolished a field of 12 by 7¾ lengths with a full tank of gas left at the end. That race was run at the distance of a mile (albeit around one turn), so among this short field Dortmund is one of only two that have run a mile or more. And coming off a 104 figure effort, he could be tough to beat once more.

Mr. Z is the most accomplished of the group, having run seven times to date. Although he has only one win and four runner-up finishes, Mr. Z has run well enough to win stakes races three times. In his most recent start, he battled the length of the stretch in the Delta Jackpot Stakes before coming up a nose shy of victory. That effort earned a 104 figure, comparable to the last effort of Dortmund, so it's conceivable they could come together on the wire in an exciting Los Alamitos Futurity finish.

No Problem has won two races in a row, including the Bob Hope Stakes last month with a career-best 91 figure. He is an improving horse, and although the figure earned last month doesn't appear good enough to beat Dortmund, Mr. Z or the improving Firing Line, No Problem might still be a contender if he moves forward off that last effort. Bench Warrant won in his debut in July with an 87 figure then improved to 89 when third in his most recent effort. Neither effort nor figure appears good enough to be competitive for the win in this situation.

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