Ike and Dawn Thrash's LINE OF DAVID (Lion Heart) scooted over from his outside post position to take the lead in Saturday's $1 million Arkansas Derby (G1) on Oaklawn Park's closing day, and gutted out a neck victory over challengers Super Saver (Maria's Mon) and Dublin (Afleet Alex). Trained by John Sadler, the chestnut colt captured his stakes debut in this 1 1/8-mile event when stopping the clock in 1:49 1/5, and has now earned his shot at Kentucky Derby (G1) glory with the $600,000 winner's paycheck.
Line of David established splits of :22 3/5, :46 1/5, 1:10 3/5 and 1:36 2/5 while Super Saver tracked just in behind and to the outside. Dublin raced just off the hooves of Super Saver, and that pair began their runs rounding the turn. Ranging up to race in tandem with Super Saver, both Dublin and Super Saver gave it their best shot, but Line of David and jockey Jon Court would not yield, crossing under the line a neck in front of Super Saver, with Dublin another neck back in third.
Sent off the 17-1 seventh choice in the nine-horse field, Line of David paid $36.60, $14.80 and $6.80 while starting the $252.40 exacta. Super Saver, the 4-1 third pick, gave back $6.20 and $4, while Dublin was worth $3.60 as the 5-2 second shot. The trifecta returned $905.40, and the 8-1-2-5 superfecta, with Uh Oh Bango (Top Hit) filling the fourth spot another 1 3/4 lengths back, totaled $6,867.80.
Noble's Promise (Cuvee), New Madrid (Rock Hard Ten), Berberis (Southern Image), Pulsion (Include) and Northern Giant (Giant's Causeway) rounded out the order of finish.
Line of David was not only making his stakes bow in the Arkansas Derby, he was also trying a conventional dirt track for the first time. His first three starts came on the synthetics in California before Sadler transferred him to turf on February 13 at Santa Anita. Line of David responded in style, scoring a front-running maiden special weight victory, and dominated a turf allowance field prior to this one by 4 1/2 lengths, also at Santa Anita. This win boosted his earnings to $662,000 and his line now reads 6-3-0-1.
Bred in Florida by Sabine Stable, Line of David was a $150,000 RNA as an OBS two-year-old in training. He is out of the winning Capote mare Emma's Dilemma, who is a half-sister to multiple listed winner and Group 3-placed Lil's Boy (Danzig). Line of David's fourth dam is multiple stakes winner Gold Digger (Nashua), the runner-up in the 1965 edition of the Kentucky Oaks.
Gold Digger is probably best known, however, as the dam of Mr. Prospector (Raise a Native), who left an indelible mark on the Thoroughbred breed during his year's at stud duty. This line has also produced the likes of two-time Canadian Horse of the Year Chief Bearhart (Chief's Crown), who earned four championship titles in Canada as well as the Eclipse Award as champion turf horse in 1997, and Grade 3 winner Slew Gin Fizz (Relaunch), a successful Argentinean sire.