Springboard Mile Takes Would-be Derby Hopefuls Off the Beaten Path

Outadore and Cowan aren’t atop anyone’s Kentucky Derby betting lists. Nor is the Springboard Mile at Remington Park atop anyone’s top-tier Derby preps. But the Oklahoma track’s top juvenile stakes race does offer yet another glimpse at 2-year-olds chasing Derby points.

Outadore-Springboard
Outadore led the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf until the final eighth. He makes his dirt debut in Friday’s Springboard Mile at Remington Park. (Image: Coady Photography)

The $200,000 Listed stakes Springboard Mile headlines a 13-race, Friday night card at Remington Park. It drew a field of 11 chasing not only 10-4-2-1 Derby points, but the co-richest purse on Remington Park’s schedule.

Make no mistake. This isn’t the fast-track to the Churchill Downs starting gate the first Saturday in May. None of the horses in the field are currently listed on either Circa Sports’ or William Hill Nevada’s Kentucky Derby Futures boards. And Long Range Toddy was the last Springboard alum jumping into the Derby. He won the 2018 Springboard Mile, vaulting into the 2019 Derby field, where he finished 16th.

Springboard Mile

Morning Line (Jockey)

  1. Senor Buscador, 15/1 (Luis Quinonez)
  2. Number One Dude, 6/1 (Ezequiel Lara)
  3. Vim and Vigor, 20/1 (Walter De La Cruz)
  4. Gushing Oil, 15/1 (Lane Luzzi)
  5. Red N Wild, 12/1 (Sophie Doyle)
  6. Game Day Play, 10/1 (Lindey Wade)
  7. Saffa’s Day, 10/1 (Iram Vargas Diego)
  8. Cowan, 4/1 (Stewart Elliott)
  9. Outadore, 3/1 (David Cabrera)
  10. Joe Frazier, 5/1 (Richard Eramia)
  11. Flash of Mischief, 15/1 (Ramon Vazquez)

That said, the Springboard Mile – which got its name in 2009 – proved it can vault horses to the Derby. It sent five horses to Churchill Downs in the last decade. Most notable among its Derby alums was 2012 Springboard runner-up Will Take Charge, who ran in all three 2013 Triple Crown races and was voted Champion 3-year-old Male of 2013. Will Take Charge’s best finish in a Triple Crown race was seventh in the Preakness, but he did win the Travers Stakes, the Pennsylvania Derby and the Breeders’ Cup Classic.

Outadore an Outlier on Dirt

So historical footnote aside, the Springboard can launch a horse to prominence. The two most likely candidates at this juncture of their careers are Outadore and Cowan. The 3/1 morning line favorite, Outadore takes favored status despite making his dirt debut here.

The Wesley Ward-trained colt broke his maiden in July at Saratoga, won the $500,000 Juvenile Turf Sprint at Kentucky Downs in September, then finished third in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf last month. That latter race came with a career-best 109 Equibase Speed Figure that was 18 points better than his previous effort at Kentucky Downs.

Ward said the son of 2016 Wood Memorial winner Outwork opened his career on turf because it was easier on his sensitive shins.

Outadore Has Speed, Mother’s Little Lasix Helper

Expect Outadore – the leading earner in the field with $424,100 — to set or chase the pace in a race featuring plenty of early speed. And he’ll do it with Lasix for the first time, coming off a bullet 59.6-second, five-furlong breeze in his last workout Dec. 11.

As for Cowan (4/1), he broke his maiden in his May debut at Churchill Downs. That led his connections, led by Remington Park’s all-time leading trainer, Steve Asmussen, to vault him into stakes races. And even as he chases his second victory and Asmussen’s third consecutive Springboard, Cowan has responded. He racked up two seconds and a third in four races.

That included a third behind Outadore at Kentucky Downs, albeit by five lengths. And it included a second in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint, with a career-best 97 Equibase. So yes, with five career starts at the end of his 2-year-old season, Cowan is experienced. But this is his first experience at a mile and his first start back on dirt in four races.

Can Joe Frazier Knock Out His Springboard Mile Foes?

If you want to avoid inexperienced chalk on dirt, get down on Joe Frazier (5/1). Trained by the sizzling hot Brad Cox, Joe Frazier captured his debut, winning a $150,000 maiden claimer at Keeneland by three lengths. In his second race, Joe Frazier jumped from that six-furlong sprint to a two-turn, 1 1/16-mile route allowance at Churchill Downs.

There, he carried the lead into the stretch before tiring. He finished 6 ¼ lengths back, albeit in third. But another first-time Lasix user, Joe Frazier should benefit from that, the lesser competition here and the shorter distance.

Number One Dude Makes One Big Class Leap

Two others worth watching are Oklahoma-bred Number One Dude (6/1) and the other Asmussen: Saffa’s Day (10/1). Number One Dude is 3-for-3, dominating his fellow state-breds by a combined 14 ½ lengths. Here, he attempts to become the first Oklahoma-bred to win the Springboard since Ted’s Folly in 2011.

Saffa’s Day is the best sleeper on the board. He won his debut at Keeneland going away, then jumped into the deep end of the pool a month later in the Nyquist Stakes. And the pool swallowed him up. Saffa’s Day regressed from an 89 Equibase to a 65 as he tired and finished sixth. Still, he too gets first-time Lasix and a much easier field to deal with.

The pick: Saffa’s Day. Yes, the “Other Asmussen” is the right Asmussen here, based on his familiarity with dirt, his pressing style and his pedigree, starring sire and Blue Grass Stakes winner Carpe Diem. Oh, and that price screams value – especially compared to turf terrors Outadore and Cowan.

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