Before you dive into this week’s Kentucky Derby prep — Friday night’s Springboard Mile at Remington Park — a couple of caveats are in order.
First, no Springboard Mile alum has ever won the Derby. That shouldn’t be surprising, given Remington Park’s off-the-beaten-path locale in Oklahoma. But don’t look at tonight’s two-turn mile as anything other than a knowledge dump on possibilities for bigger preps down the Derby trail.
And second, understand that if any of the five juveniles running on Lasix — which is allowed in Oklahoma — win or finish in the top four, they get no Derby points. The Springboard Mile offers 10-4-2-1 qualifying points to its top four finishers, provided none of them run with the anti-bleeding medication.
Those grains of salt absorbed, this edition of the Springboard Mile features plenty of early speed and possibilities to either play that speed or against it.
Ortiz wants Make It Big to make a splash
The speed starts with 7/2 morning-line favorite Make It Big. It speaks loudly about the Florida-bred colt’s prospects that A-list jockey Jose Ortiz parachutes in to ride him. Make It Big did just that in his two starts, winning a Gulfstream Park maiden special weight on Oct. 9, then wheeling back three weeks later to capture the Black-Type Juvenile Sprint Stakes by nearly three lengths.
That stakes victory came with a 92 Equibase Speed Figure. More importantly, it came without Lasix. The Neolithic progeny won’t be on it tonight either. His pace-pressing style should get speed to run into.
That speed figures to come from a pair of Steve Asmussen prospects: Classic Moment (4/1) and Concept (5/1). The better of the two Asmussens, Classic Moment rides in off a nice, maiden-breaking victory at Churchill Downs. That Nov. 5 maiden special weight triumph came with a 92 Equibase. It also came at 6/1 over 2/5 favorite Cyberknife.
Classic Moment can use this Springboard to bigger things
In the race before that, he finished third by three-quarters of a length, pressing the pace into deep stretch before yielding. He showed enough in both races to be a presence throughout, but Classic Moment will run on Lasix.
So will his stablemate, Concept. The son of 2017 Horse of the Year Gun Runner has four races on the ledger already. Noteworthy there was his victory in the Black-Type Kip Deville Stakes at Remington Park in late September. Noteworthy, because it came at six furlongs with an 86 Equibase that’s an outlier. It’s the only time Concept ran an Equibase outside of the sixties.
And noteworthy because in Concept’s next outing, the seven-furlong Black-Type Clever Trevor Stakes, he finished a woeful fourth by nine lengths as the 1.30/1 favorite. There’s also a fifth at Prairie Meadows (by eight lengths) and a third (by less than two) at Lone Star on the resume. Asmussen won this race two of the last three years, but nothing else here leads you to believe that Concept — Lasix and all — can grasp the concept of a mile.
Fincher knows recent Springboard success
Which brings us to Todd Fincher’s Bye Bye Bobby (4/1), who plays the counter to all that early, pace-setting/pressing speed. Fincher is the trainer who brought you last year’s Springboard Mile victor, Señor Buscador.
Here, he’s the trainer who brings you a closer coming off a maiden-breaking debut in the Zia Park Juvenile last month. Bye Bye Bobby came from eight lengths back at the half-mile mark with a wide turn into the middle of the track. He rolled home by nearly two lengths.
Bye Bye Bobby will run on Lasix. And the 81 Equibase does give pause, given the numbers some of his counterparts posted. But it’s strong for a debut, especially looking at his grinding effort at Zia Park. That illustrates there’s more in the tank. So do the two bullet works the Quality Road progeny clocked in his last three workouts.
Osbourne has the speed, not the post, to contend
One other candidate warrants attention: Osbourne (6/1). The Tapiture gelding owns a win and a second in his two outings, both coming at Churchill Downs and both coming with 90+ Equibases. Osbourne’s victory came on Nov. 17 over seven furlongs as the 1/2 favorite. His second came with a 91 Equibase and by less than two lengths to Howling Time at 18.60/1.
The only debit on Lasix-free Osbourne’s ledger here is his outside post, which puts pressure on him and his pressing/stalking style in this field. He closed at 155/1 in the first Kentucky Derby Future Wager pool, the longest odds of any horse on the board.