In a competitive Springboard Mile field that includes a 2-year-old making his first start since the Breeders’ Cup among the 12 runners, it’s a maiden that takes top honors on the morning line in the form of Brad Cox trainee Answer In.
The 2-year-old Dialed In gelding is coming off of a 5 ¼ length victory in a Churchill Downs maiden race in his second start and his connections are already aiming higher. Assistant trainer Blake Cox said the Springboard Mile provides a good starting point toward the Kentucky Derby for the gelding with 10 points on offer to the winner of the race.
“It’s not an overly tough race, I think it’s a good race to debut in stakes company,” Cox said about the choice to send Answer In to the race. “He’s a Derby horse, there’s no doubt about it. I think 1 ¼ miles will be a question mark down the road but I think he’s got a lot of talent.”
Answer In will be facing a last-out Breeders’ Cup runner in the form of Shoplifted, who was also second in the Grade 1 Hopeful Stakes earlier this year. The Into Mischief colt recently arrived at Remington Park after spending the last month at Churchill Downs and leads a trio from the Steve Asmussen barn.
Asmussen has won the race five times in his career, including a 1-2-4 finish last year. He looks to continue that success here with two of his horses at odds of 5-1 or less and 15-1 Jungle Runner the winner of the local Springboard Mile prep.
“We have Rowdy Yates, who happens to be an Oklahoma-bred and he’s won two here so far this meet. He won the [Listed] Ellis Park Juvenile Stakes earlier in the summer and he hopes to continue getting better,” said Asmussen’s assistant Darren Fleming. “Jungle Runner was a maiden winner here and came back and won the stake and he’s also a good contender. Then we have Shoplifted, who ran in New York and then went on to California. We’re hoping he’ll rebound in this race.”
In addition to Rowdy Yates, the race also attracted three other Oklahoma-breds and an Arkansas-bred to give the local breeding industry a strong representation in the race. That includes Bret Calhoun’s undefeated Alternate Time, who has won both his starts on the Remington Park track this fall. The 2-year-old will admittedly be making a step up in company here though when making his stakes debut.
An interesting shipper in the race is Mike Stidham’s well-traveled Embolden. The Virginia-bred colt has run at four different tracks but is making a leap up in distance in his return to the dirt after running on the turf since his debut. A son of Alternation, Embolden is a stakes winner and has obvious class but Stidham admittedly isn’t sure what to expect at this distance.
“We felt that he gets over the dirt just as well as he gets over the grass. He’s got the right temperament and we feel like he’ll handle the two turns and the dirt,” Stidham said. “I would say any time you’re changing distances and you’re navigating two turns with a horse for the first time who has already run five times sprinting certainly it adds a new dimension,” Stidham said. “So just seeing how he handles the two turns is the biggest challenge. It’s no easy spot, there’s a couple horses in here who have run really well already also. It’s a tough spot and his first time around two turns so we’re going to learn more about him in this race.”
The final domestic 2-year-old points race of the year for the Kentucky Derby, the Springboard Mile has proven to be an important stepping-stone to the 3-year-old Kentucky Derby prep races in recent years.
Last year’s winner Long Range Toddy went on to win the Grade 2 Rebel Stakes and run in the Kentucky Derby while 2017 Springboard Mile runner up Combatant also made the Kentucky Derby starting gate after hitting the board in three Kentucky Derby prep races. Three-year-old Champion Will Take Charge also finished second in this race the year before his championship campaign while 2015 Springboard Mile runner up Suddenbreakingnews finishing second in the Grade 1 Arkansas Derby before finishing fifth in Kentucky’s version.
This year’s Springboard Mile goes off at 8:19 p.m. Central as the 12th race on Remington Park’s 13-race closing day card.