Road to the 2023 Kentucky Derby – The Remington Springboard Mile – By Eric Solomon

As the thoroughbred racing season at Remington Park is getting ready to wind down, they’ll run their only race for Kentucky Derby Points today. The Remington Springboard Mile has been run since 2001, and it’s been on the Derby Points schedule since 2017. The most accomplished runner to exit this race was the 2012 runner-up, Will Take Charge.

Steve Asmussen has won this race six times, and he’s represented with a pair of runners here. Todd Fincher, who won this race in 2020 with Senor Buscador, is back as well. Brad Cox, who might have the most interesting runner today, is looking for his first victory in this race. Seven of the nine runners are locally based, with most having more than one start over this course. Post time for this race is 10:19 PM (CT) /11:19 PM (ET).

Remington Park, Saturday 12/17/22, Race 12: The $400K Remington Springboard Mile

20 Total Derby points (10/4/3/2/1)



1 – Echo Again (9-5 ML, 50-1 Circa): This son of Gun Runner turned in one of the more eye-catching two year old performances this summer at Saratoga. He crushed a maiden special weight field on August 20th, winning by almost seven lengths. The final time was 1:15:4, and the Beyer Speed Figure for the effort was an impressive 94. That race proved to be a productive maiden allowance, with the third place finisher winning in his next start, and the fourth place finisher going on to be a stakes winner on the turf. The concern for me is how poorly he ran in the Iroquois Stakes in his next start, when trying two turns for the first time. He was wide and up close to an aggressive pace, however, it was not the kind of performance that inspires a lot of confidence when going longer distances. His full brother, Costa Terra, won early and lost in a photo in the Ellis Park Juvenile at seven furlongs, but did not run as well in route races. His half brother, Pneumatic, did with the Pegasus when going a 1 mile and 1/16 at Monmouth, but he also looked like a horse that was better at one turn. Despite being sired by Tapit, the dam won all of her races in sprints. Even though this is not a graded stakes race, I see this field as a deeper group than the Iroquois, and I do wonder if he’ll be more effective at one turn. I can certainly see him getting a front-running trip from his rail post, and I’d back up accordingly in the multi-race wagers, but I think at short odds, it’s worth trying to beat him here.

2 – Gunflash (8-5 ML, 15-1 ML): He’s another son of Gun Runner and the only second time starter in the field. He won on debut, going from last to first with a four wide sweep. He broke well in that race, but idled a bit down the backstretch, going from 4th to 8th during the first quarter mile or so. He was under a ride for the last 7/16 of the race, and it took him a ldecent amount of encouragement before he was moving well on the turn. However, he idled again when drawing even with the pacesetter, who was a 10-1 longshot. He battled and narrowly won the race, but he looked like he was going to pass that horse with ease. While I can be forgiving of some of his flaws in that first career race, I do worry if he can get them straightened out in his second try, while facing a significantly better field. Jockey Cristian Torres is on the verge of winning the riding title at Remington and he’s been riding regularly for Broberg at this meet. While I have a ton of respect for the human connections, my inclination is the horse is not ready for this level yet. 

3 –Campfire Creed (5-1 ML, 200-1 Circa): He’ll make his 5th career start and his 4th at this meet tonight, when he’ll try to avenge his narrow stakes loss in the slop last out. He was bumped a bit at the break as the horse to his inside was breaking out. He settled in the middle of the pack, and came with a strong six wide rally. He battled with Wildatlanticstorm, with that one holding on by the narrowest of margins. He was the better animal in the prior start, closing smartly to win the Kip Deville Stakes. While Jimmy Creed might be better know for stakes runners, his horses have won at a 16% clip in route races over the last five years. I do think he can be successful at this distance and he seems like the best of the local runners entered here. 

4 – Lil Sweet Thang (12-1 ML): After pairing his Beyer figures in his first two starts, he posted a gaudy 87 Beyer for his N2L allowance score last month. He debuted here at the beginning of October in a maiden allowance race where he dominated his ten opponents. He tried stakes company in the Clever Trevor Stakes at the end of the month. He took a lot of mud to the face when closed through some traffic late to get into fourth. He passed the two turn test with flying colors last out when getting back on a fast track. His sire and dam were both better one turn horses, but his two fast track efforts on this course are worth noting, especially the one at this distance. This will serve as a major class test for him, however, I don’t think his effort in the slop in stakes company two starts ago was as bad as it looks on paper. I like him underneath in this race and if his odds go up over his 12-1 morning line, I could see him as a horse that could be worth taking a small chance on. 

5 – Giant Mischief (3-1 ML, 40-1 Circa): He caught a lot of attention when he won the battle with the highly regarded Arabian Lion last month on the Breeders’ Cup undercard at Keeneland. His two races, both coming in sprints, have been very impressive. He debuted at Horseshoe Indiana, where he had a trouble-filled race, but he emerged as much the best, winning by 1 and ½ lengths in a 5 and ½ furlong sprint. Cox sent him to Keeneland to compete in that highly contentious optional claiming/allowance race. Like Echo Again, I do wonder about how well he’ll perform at two turns. He’s sired by Into Mischief out of the graded stakes winning sprinter, Vertical Oak. The dam never ran farther than seven furlongs in her career. Watching Giant Mischief run. He certainly looks like a horse that can handle a route of ground. He outfinished a very good horse and he’s shown that he can handle adversity. I think Echo Again will be pressured on the front end, and I can see him getting a comfortable, stalking trip, waiting in the wings to pounce. I see him as the one to beat in this race. 

6 – American Outlaw (15-1 ML): He finished one length behind Lil Sweet Thang in the aforementioned N2L allowance race last month. That race was a big step forward for him after breaking his maiden by five lengths in a five furlong dirt dash back in October. He’s sired by Triple Crown Winner, American Pharoah, so it;s not surprising to see him move forward when going two turns. However, I worry about his running style with this field. Echo Again is every bit as fast as he is in the early stages, and that one has drawn much better for the race they want to run. I think he’ll put pressure on the favorite, but with his outside position, I suspect he might be the first one to blink. 

7 – Ghost Hero (15-1 ML, 250-1 Circa): The lone Oklahoma bred in the field is coming in off a pair of wins in state bred stakes races on this course. Like he did prior to his win last month, he has been working well in the mornings. Looking at the fields, I don’t think the state bred stakes races are as deep as the open allowances or stakes races run on this course. I’m thinking that he hasn’t shown enough growth for me to endorse him in his first foray against open company today.

8 – Money Run (12-1 ML): Steve Asmussen’s other runner was a distant third behind Lil Sweet Thang and American Outlaw in allowance company last month. He was soundly beaten by Wildatlanticstorm and Campfire Creed two starts back in the Clever Trevor. At 12-1 on the morning line, he represents poor value, as he’s listed at the same price as the horse that was nine lengths better than him last out. American Outlaw was eight lengths better than him in that race, and he’s a higher price on the morning line. Perhaps that is Asmussen tax that you typically have to pay at Remington. Even if there is a market correction to a bad morning line, I’d have a hard time playing him at odds of 30-1 or even higher. 

9 – Wildatlanticstorm (6-1 ML, 200-1 Circa): This Iowa bred has been sharp in his three starts since shipping to Oklahoma at the end of the summer. He earned a spot in the starting gate in the local stakes races after dominating an optional claiming/N2L allowance field in his local debut, three starts ago. He has split his decisions with Campfire Creed in their two meetings, getting the better of him in the slop last out. I think the wide draw, which worked to his advantage at seven furlongs last out, is going to be to his detriment today. There’s at least three horses inside of him that want to go out to the front end, which has the potential to make his night very difficult. Unless he can catch an absolute flier out of the gate, I think he’ll have to prove he can strike from off the pace if he’s going to win this.

The Verdict: 5-3-4

Looking at the races that these horses are coming out of, the single best performance came from Giant Mischief in his last start at Keeneland, battling tooth and nail to defeat a highly touted two year old prospect from the Bob Baffert barn. With this race going off as late as it is, we’ll have the opportunity to watch Arabian Lion in the Los Alamitos Futurity earlier in the day. While that field isn’t very deep, a strong effort from that one will only validate the big effort that we saw from Giant Mischief on the Breeders’ Cup undercard. I see him as the one to beat here. 

Of the local contenders, I think both Campfire Creed and Lil Sweet Thang make sense. Both horses have shown the ability to come from off the pace, which should be a valuable strategy with the early speed that is signed on in this field. Lil Sweet Thang might offer the best value in the race, coming off a big effort in allowance company at the distance. 

I’ll be trying to beat Echo Again, who is the morning line favorite. It’ll be interesting to see if he goes off as the post time favorite. On one hand, his maiden score at the Spa was very impressive. However, his last start was not very good. If frontrunners are having success throughout the evening, he could be worth upgrading, seeing as how he has inside position on the other speed horses. However, in spite of Asmussen’s impeccable record in this race, I trust some of the other runners more. 

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