Horse Racing

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

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

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
(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, 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


1st: Otto the Conqueror

2nd: Fidget

3rd: Gettysburg Address

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


Want to test your handicapping skills against fellow Unlocking Winners readers? Check out the Unlocking Winners contest page—there’s a new challenge every week! (Please note: older contest entries can be found here.)

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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