At the request of Churchill Downs management, Remington park raised the purse of the Springboard Mile from $300,000 to $400,000 and in return, the race was granted 17 qualifying points for the 2018 Kentucky Derby (10-4-2-1). The winner will also receive an all-expenses paid trip thru the entry box at Remington’s signature race, the G3 Oklahoma Derby, which is run in late September. This new prestige is quite a coup for Remington Park as they close out their 2017 racing season.
The Springboard Mile is expecting a full field of 12 2yr olds who will be running that mile around 2-turns over Remington Park’s dirt course. Big name connections shipping in from California and the Midwest are well represented, along with the usual cast of characters from Remington’s jockey/trainer leaderboards.
At the time of this writing, Remington’s dirt course has been running with a slight speed/rail bias. According to my trusty Brisnet stats, 25% of the last 97 1-mile races have been won wire to wire, and more recently, 3 of the last 7 of these races were won on the front end. Winning post positions were fairly distributed. While several horses have been able to close from the back of the pack, the common thread in those charts has been the phrase “saved ground” on at least one of the turns.
When handicapping 2yr olds, even in a $400,000 race, you never know what you are going to get. Many still have not settled into a running style. They are all still maturing as racehorses, and a few are trying 2-turns for the first time. I will use the same strategy that worked so well in the 2017 Derby prep season and just look for horses that show signs of improvement and who have a good shot at a favorable trip.
The pace scenario of this race will be influenced by the 6-5 morning line favorite Greyvitos. With Victor Espinoza aboard, Greyvitos recently broke his maiden in the G3 Bob Hope at Del Mar. This was quite the jump up from his previous 2 tries at Santa Anita where he struggled at 5f on the dirt and at 1m on the turf. He showed early speed for the first time in the Bob Hope and wired the field at odds of 19.90-1. On a more serious note, Greyvitos is already a winner as he was able to ship out from the San Luis Rey Training Center days before the devastating fire.
Several prospects will be joining him in the cavalry charge from the gate. The #2 Major Brown wired an optional claiming field here at Remington last month by setting a modest pace on the rail. Flip The Coin Jan will be shipping in from Del Mar where he set a dawdling pace on his way to victory in a $65,000 MC event. Soul P Say, a local speedball, may be in over his head. And Believe in Royalty will be shipping in from speed-friendly Laurel Park after wiring a $50,000 optional claiming field.
None of these front runners give me pause, but then there is Redatory. Redatory is 2 for 2 lifetime including a 7f win in the $100,000 Clever Trevor Stakes here at Remington. With top local jockey David Cabrerra in the irons, Redatory will break from post #10 and could be the horse that ultimately denies Greyvitos a clean trip to the front and the rail.
Also coming from the Clevor Trevor are closers Bode’s Maker and Flat Lucky, who finished 2nd and 3rd, respectively. Flat Lucky was the favorite that day, saved all of the ground, and couldn’t get within 2 lengths of Redatory, while Bode’s Maker finished well after traveling wide.
With a speed heavy group, the horse I landed on is the #1, Combatant. Trained by Steve Asmussen and ridden by Ricardo Santana, Combatant broke his maiden at Churchill Downs on October 29th while sitting wide and covering more ground than any other horse in the race. Breaking from the rail this week, Combatant should be able to reserve some of his early speed, save all of the ground, and pick up the pieces in the lane.
I will play Combatant for the win and an exacta box with Combatant and Bode’s Maker.