The stakes season at Hawthorne may be over, but that means Picks and Ponderings now turns eyes afield to the early-stage Kentucky Derby preps. Sunday the road to the Kentucky Derby visits Oklahoma for the first time, and we delve into that prep, the Remington Springboard Mile.
In addition, we also preview the She's All In Stakes in detail. The race has a pair of ties to the Chicago circuit. The race's namesake, She's All In, achieved her only graded stakes triumph on our local circuit, taking the 2012 Sixty Sails Handicap (G3) at Hawthorne. The field also features the undisputed standout of this year's Illinois-bred three-year-old crop, Babybluesbdancing.
The closing day card at Remington Park features six stakes races -- in addition to full previews of the Springboard Mile and the She's All In, we offer a chart of selections for all the stakes races on the card at the bottom of this post.
Morning lines were not available at original publish time. Edited Saturday, December 16 to add morning lines.
Race 9: She's All In Stakes, three-year-olds and up, fillies and mares, one mile and seventy yards on the dirt, post time 6:44pm CST
This race takes its name from Oklahoma-bred She's All In. An eight-time stakes winner during the course of her career, she won once in graded stakes company -- an easy 8 3/4 length romp in the 2012 Sixty Sails Handicap (G3) at Hawthorne. The Robert Zoellner homebred was also Grade 1-placed, with a second-place finish behind Royal Delta in the 2013 Delaware Handicap, as the longest shot on the board. Starting in 2014, Remington Park started running a race in its native daughter's honour. The very first edition of the She's All In had an Illinois-bred on the board: Diva's Diamond chased to finish a clear second behind wire-to-wire winner Honey's Ryan. To date, the most accomplished winner of the She's All In was 2015 victress Cassatt, winner of the Grade 3 Monmouth Oaks the year before.
Cassatt holds off Ribbon of Darkness to her inside to win the 2015 She's All In Handicap. Illinois-bred Diva's Diamond, last of six in this running, finished second in the race the year before.
ADORE looks the one to beat in the She's All In. In her last two starts, she has won going a mile and seventy yards at Remington, the same course and distance as this race. Though those outings came in allowance company, she consistently runs fast enough to compare favourably against the best that her foes here fire. ADORE has a forward style, and though stretch-out sprinters EURO K SHOTGUN and BARBARY HALL will ensure that ADORE will have no free lunch up front, ADORE has enough form rating from just off the pace to be likely to withstand that other early pace. Her connections also inspire confidence: trainer Steve Asmussen is a 21% winner on this Remington Park meet, rider Ricardo Santana fires strongly when he visits Oklahoma City, and ADORE herself has done well when Santana has taken the call.
However, in a multi-race wager, this space would go two deep, and bet a challenger to win: READY TO CONFESS. The daughter of More Than Ready comes in third off the layoff, and took a step forward from first off to second off. Even so, both of her starts since the layoff have come at one turn. READY TO CONFESS has done her best work going two turns, so the stretch out to a mile and seventy yards for the She's All In should coax further progress from her. READY TO CONFESS also gets the services of sharp local David Cabrera -- a 16% rider at Remington, and a rider who has done well lately for trainer Donnie Von Hemel. On pace, READY TO CONFESS has the versatility to stalk or rally from further back -- Cabrera should be able to carve out his own trip, and READY TO CONFESS should be adaptable enough to give her best.
HIGH FASHION DIVA gets a class test here, moving up into stakes company for the first time since her juvenile year. But, this seems the time to do it. The daughter of Girolamo rides a four-race win streak into the She's All In, including three wins in a row going two turns over the Remington course. On pace, she isn't fast enough to strike the front here, but HIGH FASHION DIVA doesn't meed to; she has grown into a true rate-and-rally type in recent times, and that style should suit her better here. Finally, HIGH FASHION DIVA goes out for high-percentage Remington connections in trainer Karl Broberg and rider Ramon Vazquez. Vazquez has ridden HIGH FASHION DIVA in her last two starts, and hops off a live runner in BABYBLUESBDANCING to ride this filly instead.
#7 READY TO CONFESS (12/1)
#8 ADORE (2/1)
#6 HIGH FASHION DIVA (5/1)
Longshot: Chicago raider #5 BABYBLUESBDANCING (5/2) has gotten a two-and-a-half-month break since her third-place finish in the Remington Park Oaks in September. She probably needed the break, as she had a long spring and summer campaign. But, she has been working consistently to this return, and has shown the ability to fire well fresh through her career. BABYBLUESBDANCING is a versatile sort who can get the job done on the pace or a few lengths off of it; expect the latter here between ADORE and stretch-out sprinters BARBARY HALL and EURO K SHOTGUN. The one drawback is that she loses previous rider Ramon Vazquez to HIGH FASHION DIVA, but new rider Quincy Hamilton knows Remington well enough to get a good race out of a ready BABYBLUESBDANCING. [This was written before the morning line was posted. I find it hard to believe Babybluesbdancing will actually be 5/2 going first time versus older, but watch the price. 5/2 is an underlay. See her creeping more toward 7/1 or 8/1, a price that would not actually surprise me, and she merits consideration.]
Race 11: Remington Springboard Mile, two-year-olds, one mile on the dirt, post time 7:40pm CST
The Springboard Mile has been the closing-day feature at Remington Park since 2009. In addition to a $400,000 purse, this year's edition of the race offers Kentucky Derby points to its top four finishers (10-4-2-1).
Though none of the winners of the Remington Springboard Mile have yet gone on to win a graded stakes, several of the horses who did not get all the way there in Oklahoma have eventually made their mark at the highest level. In 2012, 128/1 shot Texas Bling pulled a shocking upset in the Springboard Mile. Though he would go on to win more stakes races against Texas-breds at ages four and five, the horse who finished second behind Texas Bling would go on to be a champion: Will Take Charge, who would win the Travers (G1) and the Clark (G1) the next year en route to being the year's champion three-year-old. Two years before that, in 2010, Caleb's Posse finished seventh as the odds-on favourite, over ten lengths beaten by longshot Grant Jack. The next year, Caleb's Posse went on to win twice at the highest level: the one-turn maven won both the King's Bishop (G1) and the Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile (G1). Even the very first Springboard Mile featured a horse who would go on to perform at the highest level. Fourth behind Turf Melody came Ron the Greek, who would go on to win in G1 company in both the United States (2012 Stephen Foster H., 2013 Jockey Club Gold Cup) and Saudi Arabia (2015 Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques Cup).
Texas Bling runs down Will Take Charge to win the 2012 Remington Springboard Mile.
This year's edition of the Remington Springboard Mile drew a competitive field of twelve -- a mix of shippers and locals, a mix of seasoned one-mile veterans as well as stretch-out sprinters. It also drew a lot of speed. With MAJOR BROWN, FLIP THE COIN JAN, SOUL P SAY, FLAT LUCKY, REDATORY, BELIEVE IN ROYALTY, and even GREYVITOS most proven on the front end, the pace should be honest, and this space is looking for someone who can sit off the pace and make a rally.
This leads to COMBATANT, one of two entries trainer Steve Asmussen has in the Springboard Mile. In his maiden victory last out at Churchill, he sad a few lengths off the lead and cleared into the stretch -- just the sort of trip that could get him home here, too. Though this will be his first time drawing an inside post, the rail has been good in mile races at Remington, allaying many post position-related fears. The distance, breeding, and connections also speak well for him. COMBATANT was not well beaten on debut going a mile on the Churchill grass, but the son of Scat Daddy really got it in gear second out, when switching to the dirt. That makes sense -- he is out of a Boundary mare, Boundary Dispute, who has produced some solid dirt runners including Chicago local Bordini. COMBATANT also keeps rider Ricardo Santana from his last-out maiden win. When Santana hops a plane to Oklahoma, take notice -- he has a 9: 4-1-2 line from his visits to the oval this season. Trainer Steve Asmussen gives confidence here, too. Asmussen is firing at 21% on the meet, excels with horses laid off for a little while (in COMBATANT's case, about a month and a half), and has given COMBATANT a sharp local work to get him settled in and prepared.
GREYVITOS ships in from the west coast after breaking his maiden in the Bob Hope (G3) at Del Mar last out. His turf debut was a bit disappointing, but he turned a corner after a layoff and a switch to dirt) he finished third in a maiden race at Santa Anita in October, then graduated in the Bob Hope after his third start. Both of those dirt starts have been at one turn, but everything about his breeding says he should relish two: GREYVITOS is by Classic sire Malibu Moon, out of long-winded lawnmower Snow Top Mountain. Pace is the question for GREYVITOS, as he won last out on the front end. But, two back, he rallied from well off the pace to get up for third, going just five and a half furlongs. That wasn't a win, but it was a good enough outing to suggest that GREYVITOS can be effective from off the pace -- between that, and the fact that he is getting so good at the right time, he should prove versatile enough to be a factor late in the Springboard Mile.
Among the frontrunning sorts, local REDATORY appeals the most. He is a perfect two-for-two, with both starts over the Remington course. Though he wired the Clever Trevor Stakes last out, his debut score showed a bona fide rating gear, something that gives him an edge in this spot, with so much other speed drawn into the race. It is a positive that REDATORY keeps rider David Cabrera in the irons; Cabrera is a solid local rider, and rode REDATORY for both of his career starts. The biggest question for this Texas-bred son of Oratory is the distance, as he has not stretched past seven furlongs yet. But, with enough pedigree possibility that he'll get a mile, he makes sense to include at an honest price.
#1 COMBATANT (4/1)
#12 GREYVITOS (6/5)
#9 REDATORY (12/1)
Longshot: #4 BODE'S MAKER (20/1) fired well in the Clever Trevor last out, but ran into a wire-to-wire winner in REDATORY. Here, he has a right to improve. He is second off the lay with some sharp works since the Clever Trevor. BODE'S MAKER also stands to get more pace in front of him, giving his closing style a more favourable setup. Finally, the distance should suit. He stretches back out to a mile over the Remington main -- the same course and distance as his only win in four starts. Bettors may relegate BODE'S MAKER to a bridesmaid sort, but between the distance and the setup, he has a serious opportunity to surprise at a price.
Below are all of Nicolle Neulist's picks for Sunday's stakes races at Remington. This grid will be finished as they finish handicapping the card. If you have questions about the logic behind any of these picks, please leave a comment or tweet us at @picksponderings!
You can take "Picks & Ponderings" with you anytime, anywhere. You can get Twitter updates @picksponderings for on-scene reports from Hawthorne Racecourse. And you can get "Picks and Ponderings" in your e-mail by typing your email address in the box and clicking "Create Subscription." It's a FREE service, and you'll never get any unwanted spam.