Asking for an Answer in the Springboard Mile

By J. Keeler Johnson ("Keelerman") Twitter: @J_Keelerman

It seems safe to say the $400,000 Remington Springboard Mile Stakes at Remington Park is one of the fastest-growing races in North America.

Just 15 years ago, the one-mile race (then known as the Remington MEC Mile) was worth a mere $75,000. But a date change and steady purse increases have significantly enhanced the profile of the Springboard Mile. Now worth $400,000, the Springboard Mile has produced five Kentucky Derby starters since 2011, including champion Will Take Charge.

A dozen promising juveniles will line up to contest the 2019 Springboard Mile, including a trio of colts from the barn of five-time Springboard Mile-winning trainer Steve Asmussen.

Leading the Asmussen brigade from a class perspective is #9 Shoplifted. Purchased for $800,000 as a 2yo-in-training, Shoplifted was an impressive debut winner on July 27 at Saratoga, dominating a 5 ½-furlong sprint by 4 ½ lengths. He then showed his exciting debut wasn't a fluke by rallying to finish second in the Hopeful Stakes (G1) at Saratoga.

Unfortunately, Shoplifted's form slipped substantially when stepping up in distance for a pair of Grade 1 stakes at Santa Anita. He flattened out when trying to reach contention in the American Pharoah Stakes (G1), crossing the wire in fifth place, and he never threatened when trudging home seventh in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile (G1).

Perhaps Shoplifted didn't care for the deep and tiring track at Santa Anita, which hasn't been playing particularly kind to late runners. But it's just as possible Shoplifted lacks the stamina to carry his strong sprint form around two turns, in which case the distance of the Springboard Mile is likely beyond his reach.

Shoplifted's stablemate #3 Rowdy Yates is a more appealing alternative. This experienced son of Morning Line has already run a half-dozen times, recording stakes triumphs in the Ellis Park Juvenile Stakes, Oklahoma Classics Juvenile Stakes, and the Don C. McNeill Stakes, the latter over the same track and distance as the Springboard Mile.

In the Don C. McNeill, Rowdy Yates showed a nice turn-of-foot, finishing the final two furlongs in :12.57 and :12.38 after tracking a slow pace. High-percentage jockey Richard Eramia retains the mount and will seek back-to-back triumphs in the Springboard Mile after guiding Asmussen's Long Range Toddy to victory in 2018.

If there's one chink in Rowdy Yates armor, it's the possibility that he's already been exposed against this level of competition. In the June 29 Bashford Manor Stakes (G3), he came up short against the early-maturing Phantom Boss, while in the September 14 Iroquois Stakes (G3), he was no match for the top two finishers and lost a three-way photo for third place against Lebda and Letmeno, two colts who would be mid-range longshots in the Springboard Mile.

It's possible Rowdy Yates has turned a corner since his defeats against graded stakes company—he's certainly been dominant in his two stakes triumphs at Remington Park. He also figures to sit a nice trip behind the speed in a race with several front-runners and stalkers.

But while Rowdy Yates is a logical contender and a must-use in multi-race wagers, for win purposes I'm inclined to side with #4 Answer In, who closed at 64-1 in Kentucky Derby Future Wager Pool #1.

The fact Answer In was an individual betting interest in the future pool speaks of how impressive he's been during his brief career. In his debut sprinting six furlongs at Churchill Downs on September 14, Answer In broke slowly, raced wide, and arguably moved too soon into a quick pace. After taking the lead in the homestretch, he was nailed on the line by South Bend, who returned to win the Street Sense Stakes.

Answer In made amends when stretching out to seven furlongs on October 27. After tracking a respectable pace, Answer In seized the lead turning for home and drew off under a strong hand ride to win by 5 ¼ lengths, sprinting the final furlong in a quick :12.14 seconds. Runner-up Race Driver returned to easily break his own maiden at Churchill Downs.

Answer In's strong finish produced a final time of 1:22.48 and Beyer speed figure of 83, which makes him very competitive on paper in the Springboard Mile. There's enough stamina in his pedigree to suggest he won't have any trouble stretching out over a mile, and as a late runner, he'll benefit if a quick pace unfolds in the Springboard Mile.

There are other reasons to respect this gelded son of Dialed In. Trainer Brad Cox has cracked the exacta with six of his last 10 starters at Remington Park, most notably winning the Oklahoma Derby (G3) with Owendale, Just as significantly, he's enlisted four-time Eclipse Award-winning jockey Javier Castellano to ride Answer In, which hints at how highly regarded Answer In must be.

Answer In has trained sharply since his maiden win, breezing five furlongs in a bullet :59 3/5 on December 3 at Churchill Downs. He looks primed for a big effort in the Springboard Mile, so I'll plan on keying him in my wagers.

Now it's your turn! Who do you like in the Remington Springboard Mile?


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J. Keeler Johnson (also known as "Keelerman") is a writer, blogger, videographer, handicapper, and all-around horse racing enthusiast. A great fan of racing history, he considers Dr. Fager to be the greatest racehorse ever produced in America, but counts Zenyatta as his all-time favorite. He is the founder of the horse racing website

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