10/19/2007 12:00AM

Going Ballistic will take aim at rivals

EmailThe best advice for Going Ballistic's 10 rivals in Sunday's $300,000 Oklahoma Derby at Remington Park is "Watch your back." He mowed down Grasshopper in last month's Grade 2 Super Derby and will be heavily favored to do the same to this group on Sunday.

Going Ballistic will be coupled with Gone Missing in the Oklahoma Derby, a 1 1/8-mile race that also includes the entry of Grade 2 Illinois Derby runner-up Reporting for Duty and Beta Capo.

Remington has boosted the purse for this year's Oklahoma Derby from $250,000, thanks to the success of its 650-machine slots casino. The race is the meet's richest, and it shares a card with three other stakes for total purse money of $575,000.

Going Ballistic was a two-time stakes winner last year, but has taken his game to a new level the past several months. He entered the Super Derby off a third-place finish in the Grade 1 Secretariat at Arlington. Prior to that, Going Ballistic was second in the Grade 2 American Derby in July and third in the Iowa Derby in June.

"I do feel like he has progressed and improved as the summer's gone on," said Donnie Von Hemel, who trains Going Ballistic for Kindred Thoroughbreds.

Going Ballistic has been flattered since the Super Derby, with fourth-place finisher Leonnatus Anteas returning in his next start to win the Grade 3 Durham Cup at Woodbine. He was among the eight horses Going Ballistic rambled past after trailing for much of the 1 1/8-mile race at Louisiana Downs.

"When they put up the half-mile fraction at 48 and change and the three-quarters at 1:12 and change, I was concerned," Von Hemel said. "Then of course, going around the turn, with the pace that slow, everybody's still in the race. It's hard to get through.

"He had to give up quite a little bit of ground around the turn. But he was able to keep his momentum going, so the trade-off was good in that respect. And then he just kept coming and kept coming."

The pace scenario should be better Sunday for Going Ballistic and regular rider Cliff Berry, who, like Von Hemel, is seeking his third win in the Oklahoma Derby. Gone Missing stretches out from a first-level allowance sprint win, while Forty Acres led for much of the Super Derby. Skim the Till also has good speed.