The $400,000 Remington Springboard Mile Stakes at Remington Park is a significant race for the 11 2-year-olds who aspire to prove they are worthy of being considered Road to the Kentucky Derby quality as their 3-year-old season approaches. Eleven horses were entered in the race, with five trained by Steve Asmussen, who won the race in 2014 with Bayerd. Most are running in a stakes race for the first time so those with prior stakes racing experience, particularly positive experience, could have an edge. Long Range Toddy is one of those with that kind of experience, having just won the Clever Trevor Stakes over the track last month, with Tobacco Road two lengths further back in third. Bankit won the Sleepy Hollow Stakes in New York in his most recent race, but it must be noted that race was restricted to horses who were bred in New York. Similarly, D Toz won the Don C. McNeil Stakes, a race for Oklahoma-bred horses only and in which Dobbins G finished third. Dunph won the Spendthrift Juvenile Stallion Stakes in October before a ninth-of-14 finish in the Grade 2 Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes. Similarly, Marquee Prince finished fifth of nine last month in the Street Sense Stakes behind Improbable, who returned to win the Grade 1 Cash Call Futurity last weekend. Three of the other four won or placed in their most recent races, which were either maiden or allowance races. Epic Dreamer is the most notable of the quartet as he will open as the morning-line favorite at 8-to-5 odds off an easy 2 ½ length win in New York. Tone Broke won an allowance race over the track, beating Kaziranga by 1 ¾ lengths. Six Shooter rounds out the field, coming off a strong win by nearly three lengths in his first route race.
Long Range Toddy gets slight preference as he improved markedly in his second and third career starts and has won around two turns. After a fourth-place debut in a 5 ½ furlong sprint, Long Range Toddy stretched out to a mile at Remington Park to win by nearly six lengths, earning a 77 Equibase Speed Figure. Shortening up a furlong to run in the Clever Trevor Stakes last month, Long Range Toddy took a gigantic step forward to win with an 89 figure. Jockey Richard Eramia was up for both wins and rides the colt back in the Springboard Mile. As Long Range Toddy has already won at the distance, and over the track, there are none of the concerns about his chances to run well which hover over most of the rest of the field. As a son of Take Charge Indy, this colt could become a feature on the road to the Kentucky Derby presented by Woodford Reserve, as the sire has produced five stakes winners in dirt routes from just 14 horses since his foals started to hit the track last year, most notably 2017 Louisiana Derby winner Noble Indy. As such, Long Range Toddy has an excellent chance to upset the field in this race.
Six Shooter is also on a very strong pattern to improve and run the best race of his career, so he too must be respected as a contender. Three races back on Oct. 17, Six Shooter broke his maiden by 6 ¾ lengths in a six furlong sprint, earning a then-career-best 84 speed figure. Even though he was third in his next start, Six Shooter ran even better (86 figure) in an allowance race. When stretched out to the distance of the Springboard Mile last month, Six Shooter took another step forward to win by 2 ¾ lengths, improving to a new best 93 figure which is the best last-race figure in the field. Since moving to trainer Holthus' base at Oaklawn Park, Six Shooter put in a very strong half-mile workout which was the best of 25 on the day at the distance, suggesting he too may be capable of improving again and such an improvement could make him formidable in the Springboard Mile.
Epic Dreamer finished second in his debut in September at Belmont Park at six furlongs with a pretty decent 85 figure then stretched out to a mile and a sixteenth, leading from start to finish to win easily. The winning effort earned a 90 figure and this colt certainly can improve in only the third start of his career, but it must be noted the mile and a sixteenth distance at Belmont is a one-turn race so he is trying something new in this two-turn route. Trainer Kelly Breen shipped Epic Dreamer in early to get a strong workout over the track on Dec. 7, the best of 27 on the day for four furlongs. With the ground-saving rail and jockey Javier Castellano riding once again, Epic Dreamer has potential to improve as well and if he does he might be found posing for pictures in the winner's circle.
Bankit, like Epic Dreamer, is trying two turns for the first time. He has only finished worse than second one time in five races and most recently won the Sleepy Hollow Stakes rather easily by nearly six lengths at the distance of a mile. However, that race was restricted to horses bred in New York only and the effort earned an 86 figure behind the best recent figures of the other contenders. Two races before that, Bankit earned a 93 figure when a nose shy of victory in the Funny Cide Stakes, also restricted to New York-breds only. Still, he's been consistent and if he can run as well around two turns as he did in the Funny Cide, Bankit could be in the thick of the action at the finish.
The rest of the Remington Springboard Mile field, with their best representative Equibase Speed Figures, is D Toz (87), Dobbins G (82)¸ Dunph (99), Kaziranga (87), Marquee Prince (80), Tobacco Road (86), and Tone Broke (81).
My selections as win contenders, in preference order:
Long Range Toddy