Firing Line at Churchill Downs

Firing Line at Churchill Downs

Anne M. Eberhardt

Firing Line to Crestwood

Owner Arnold Zetcher retains majority interest in son of Line of David.

Firing Line , who won the 2015 Sunland Derby (gr. III) by 14 1/4 lengths and was runner-up to American Pharoah  in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I), will enter stud at Crestwood Farm near Lexington in 2017.

Owner Arnold Zetcher said he is retaining a majority interest in the 4-year-old son of Line of David—Sister Girl Blues, by Hold for Gold. Firing Line will be the first stallion in which he's owned the controlling share.

"We had some offers to sell him outright or make other arrangements, but my wife and I talked it through. We love the horse and we think he's got some great potential, so we decided to retain ownership," Zetcher said. "There are not a lot of horses that come around like this. Even though he had the injuries later, the way he ran, we feel he has the opportunity to be a successful stallion."

Firing Line will stand for $5,000.

Bred in Kentucky by Clearsky Farms, Firing Line was acquired by Zetcher through agent Ben McElroy for $240,000 out of Eddie Woods' consignment at the 2014 Keeneland April 2-year-olds in training sale. The colt broke his maiden by 4 1/4 lengths at Del Mar in his second start. From there he went right into graded stakes, finishing second in the Los Alamitos Futurity (gr. I) and the Robert B. Lewis Stakes (gr. III). In both stakes he finished a head behind Dortmund 

Firing Line more than proved his mettle in the 1 1/8-mile Sunland Derby, which he won by 14 1/4 lengths in 1:47.39. In the Kentucky Derby, Firing Line raced in second throughout most of the mile and a quarter, tracking his West Coast rival Dortmund. At the top of the stretch, he could not hold off eventual Triple Crown winner American Pharoah, who hit the wire a length in front.

"The Los Alamitos Futurity through to the Kentucky Derby was about as impressive a string of races as you can see against a very talented class of 3-year-olds," said Pope McLean Jr., business manager at Crestwood. "Unfortunately his career was cut short by injury, but I believe he certainly would have carried on with his brilliance."

Soft tissue injuries acquired during the rigors of the Triple Crown forced Firing Line into retirement. He left racing with two wins and four seconds out of eight starts and earnings of $976,000.

Firing Line is out of the grade I-placed winner Sister Girl Blues, who is by the unraced Red Ransom son Hold For Gold and out of the winning Conquistador Cielo daughter Sister Girl. Sister Girl Blues is a half sister to grade II winner and Australian sire Mint Lane (by Maria's Mon).

Zetcher has found much success since he transitioned from owner to owner/breeder in 2009. His top homebreds include Gabby's Golden Gal, who won the Acorn Stakes (gr. I); Santa Anita Derby (gr. I) winner Midnight Interlude; and grade II winner Always a Princess. His broodmare band, which he keeps at Don Robinson's Winter Quarter Farm near Lexington, also includes grade II winner Zardana, who beat Rachel Alexandra in the 2010 New Orleans Ladies Stakes, and has already produced Curlin Stakes winner Smart Transition (Smart Strike).

"We think really highly of Crestwood and the McLeans," Zetcher said. "And we are really very excited about the possibilities of Firing Line's offspring and of a nice future with him."