10/15/2007 11:00PM

Going Ballistic outperforming his roots

EmailGoing Ballistic does not know he is a $4,000 purchase, and he certainly is not aware that his sire, Lite the Fuse, was a sprinter. At least that's the impression he gave in last month's Grade 2, $500,000 Super Derby, when he closed relentlessly through the stretch of the 1 1/8-mile race to defeat the 1-5 favorite, Grasshopper.

With the win, Going Ballistic asserted himself as the top 3-year-old in the Louisiana, Oklahoma, and Texas region. The performance also made him clearly the one to beat Sunday in the $300,000 Oklahoma Derby at his home track of Remington Park.

Going Ballistic has defied his purchase price and pedigree ever since being bought at the 2005 Keeneland January sale. Although his multiple Grade 1-winning sire never raced beyond a mile, Going Ballistic's best races have come at 1 1/8 miles and beyond. Along the way his earnings have piled up to the tune of $671,242.

"When I went to the sale, there were maybe 15 or 20 horses that I wanted to look at, and I kept coming back to this one," said Mike Kindred, a general contractor in Dallas who owns Going Ballistic with his wife, Mary. "He was very correct, and he just really looked the part of a racehorse. When the bidding stopped at $4,000, I thought, 'Wow, this is good.' "

Kindred's purchase was not blind luck, as he had done his homework on Going Ballistic's pedigree.

"I was really taken by the fact that his mother was by Holy Bull," he said. "I knew that Holy Bull had won at a mile and a quarter as a 3-year-old, and in many respects had outrun his pedigree, too. He was basically by a sprinter, Great Above."

Kindred, who pulls race records on the immediate family members of horses he is interested in, also liked that Going Ballistic's dam, Holy Lightning, began her career in New York.

"To run third in a maiden special weight first out at Belmont Park indicates to me she had some racing class," he said. "Also, the assumption that I made was if she was at Belmont Park and owned by Frank Stronach, she was on the first string. And then he kept her as a broodmare."

Going Ballistic, bred in Florida by the Stronach-owned Adena Springs, did his dam proud in the Super Derby. He was a one-length winner after sitting some 11 lengths behind Forty Acres, who led the field through six furlongs in 1:12.80.

"Down the backside, I'm thinking, 'The pace is not very good,' " said Cliff Berry, regular rider on Going Ballistic. "But I just told myself, I'm not letting him run until three and a half [furlongs out]. So when I did, he took off and went around them. At the quarter pole, I had a pretty good feeling I was going to win it.

"You can't push him. You've got to let him do his own thing the first part of it."

Going Ballistic used his closing kick to win his maiden in his two-turn debut, a turf race at Lone Star Park in July 2006 for trainer Donnie Von Hemel.

"He showed basically from the time we got him as a 2-year-old that he had some talent, and it became evident after just a couple of races running short that he definitely wanted to run long," Von Hemel said. "We ran short one time and made a big move from back to get up somewhere close. The next time, we thought, 'Well, we just got too far back,' and we pressed him to stay up close in a short race."

Von Hemel said Going Ballistic did not have the same finish. He decided to send him two turns and have him come from off the pace, a style Going Ballistic has since employed to win four stakes, two of them on turf and two others on dirt. Going Ballistic has also placed in some notable stakes, finishing third in the $250,000 Iowa Derby in June, second in the Grade 2 American Derby in July, and third in the Grade 1 Secretariat in August.

"What I was looking for was a horse that I could run in the Midwest, that I thought could be an allowance horse that could potentially run two turns," said Kindred. "And what I got was that, plus."

Going Ballistic can add to his accomplishments Sunday.