Who Will Conquer the Springboard Mile?

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

An intriguing Road to the Kentucky Derby qualifier is taking place at Remington Park this Friday. The $300,000 Remington Springboard Mile S. has drawn nine entries, and I believe there's an opportunity to cash nice payoffs in exotic wagers.

For starters, I'm confident #8 Otto the Conqueror (5-2) is the horse to beat. I'm less confident his morning line odds will hold up, because his form lines are excellent and there's a chance he'll drop closer to even-money by post time.

Otto the Conqueror debuted in a seven-furlong maiden special weight at Ellis Park, where he dueled for the lead before giving way slightly to finish second by one length against Liberal Arts, future winner of the Street Sense (G3) on the Road to the Kentucky Derby. Otto the Conqueror pulled 8 3/4 lengths clear of the third-place finisher, so it's safe to say he ran well on debut.

This effort stamped Otto the Conqueror as the favorite to win a similar seven-furlong maiden special weight at Churchill Downs, and this time Otto the Conqueror led all the way to prevail by a neck.

Otto the Conqueror subsequently stuck to the same track and distance for a $100,000 allowance optional claimer, and after carving out splits of :23.19 and :46.70 over a sloppy track he finished up nicely to win by four lengths. Runner-up Honor Marie came right back to win the Kentucky Jockey Club (G2) on the Road to the Kentucky Derby, while third-place finisher Just Steel won the Ed Brown S. in his next start.

Unsurprisingly, Otto the Conqueror's blowout victory against strong competition was fast on the clock. He received a 96 Brisnet Speed rating and an 88 Beyer Speed Figure; in both cases those numbers rank as the highest in the Remington Springboard Mile field.

As a son of 2007 Kentucky Derby (G1) winner Street Sense out of a mare by Preakness (G1) winner Shackleford, Otto the Conqueror shouldn't have any difficulty stretching out over one mile. Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen has won the Springboard Mile six times, and Otto the Conqueror appears poised to given Asmussen a record-extending seventh triumph.

Now, who should we use underneath Otto the Conqueror? Best Pal (G3) third-place finisher #6 Raging Torrent (3-1) and the undefeated two-time stakes winner #5 Glengarry (7-2) are the second and third choices on the morning line, but I'm not sure either will relish racing one mile. Both are sons of Maximus Mischief, a first-crop stallion who is siring speedy sprinters left and right. The average winning distance of his progeny stands at 5.82 furlongs per statistics compiled by Bloodhorse.com, and among the top ten 2023 first-crop sires by progeny earnings, that's the only average winning distance below 6.04 furlongs.

The possibility of Glengarry and Raging Torrent being sprinters at heart is borne out by their racing records. Glengarry has never run farther than six furlongs, and when he won the Bowman Mill S. at Keeneland last time out, he ran the final furlong in a slow :13.98. Raging Torrent has likewise done his best work over six furlongs or less; he weakened to finish fourth when stretching out over seven furlongs for the Del Mar Futurity (G1), and he faded even more when finishing fourth by 12 1/4 lengths in the 1 1/16-mile American Pharoah (G1).

Instead, I think the Brad Cox trainees #1 Fidget (8-1) and #3 Gettysburg Address (6-1) are the strongest exacta and trifecta contender to use underneath Otto the Conqueror. Fidget started his career on turf and won a one-mile maiden special weight at Horseshoe Indianapolis in his second start, but he ran even better when trying dirt in a one-mile allowance at Horseshoe Indianapolis, pressing the pace from second place before taking over to win by one length. Cox has been known to debut good horses at Horseshoe Indianapolis, including 2023 Kentucky Derby third-place finisher Angel of Empire, and Fidget still has upside while making only his second start on dirt.

As for Gettysburg Address, he won his debut dashing six furlongs at Ellis Park in a modest time, then stepped up significantly in class and distance to finish fourth in the Street Sense (G3) at Churchill Downs. Gettysburg Address faded after setting the pace to finish 7 1/4 lengths behind the winner, but I'd argue that he went out too fast, too soon over a sloppy track. Gettysburg Address held a two-length lead at the first two calls of the Street Sense, whereas in his debut he tracked the pace from third place. A change in tactic while tackling slightly easier competition in the Remington Springboard Mile can help Gettysburg Address rebound.


1st: Otto the Conqueror
2nd: Fidget
3rd: Gettysburg Address

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, videographer, voice actor, 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.

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