04/15/2010 11:00PM

Going Ballistic aims to close fast


As the only million-dollar earner and starting highweight in Sunday's Sunland Park Handicap, Going Ballistic figures to have a big bull's-eye planted firmly on his flank. The connections of the Grade 2 winner, however, hope he is the one taking target practice down the stretch.

"He's got that one big kick," Going Ballistic's trainer, Donnie Von Hemel, said from his Chicago base Thursday morning. "The faster they go and the more speed horses the better, so he can starting picking them off down the lane."

Going Ballistic's latest rally came up 1 1/2 lengths short in the Maxxam Gold Cup Handicap at Sam Houston Race Park on March 27. He had to settle for a second-place finish after trailing most of the way.

"Ballistic came out of the Maxxam in great shape and has trained very well between starts," Von Hemel said. "We shipped him Wednesday morning from Oaklawn, and he got to Sunland about 9 that night. He traveled well."

Von Hemel went on to say that the 1 1/8 miles of Sunday's race was an important consideration for Going Ballistic.

"It is obvious he likes the distance," he said. "We also looked at the nom list and it looked like a bunch he could fit in with."

The 118-pound highweight will be reunited with jockey Cliff Berry for the first time in more than a year. Berry piloted Going Ballistic to victory in the Grade 2, $500,000 Super Derby in 2007. That win provided the 6-year-old Florida-bred son of Lite the Fuse with his biggest payday to date.

One of those rivals Going Ballistic is counting on to provide some pace on Sunday is Quiet Again. A winner of 9 of his 26 races, the Real Quiet gelding is coming off a front-running score in the 6 1/2-furlong B. Thomas Memorial Stakes at Sunland in his last start. The Jimmie Claridge charge will be testing his distance limit in Sunday's race but did manage to save the show spot in last year's edition. Ken Tohill has the call at 117 pounds.

Tie Rod, also assigned 117 pounds, looks to pick up his third win in a row after capturing the Turf Paradise Handicap on the grass in mid February and, most recently, an optional claimer at a mile here on March 23. D.P. Vergara will handle the riding chores.