Combatant Could Offer Value in Competitive Springboard Mile
The $400,000 Remington Springboard Mile on December 17th at Remington Park has been rapidly gaining prestige since its inaugural running in 2009, and this year—for the first time—the race will offer Kentucky Derby qualification points to the top four finishers.Perhaps as a result, the race has drawn a large and competitive field of twelve lightly-raced juveniles. Steve Asmussen, by far the leading trainer at the current Remington meet with 79 wins, will send out two starters, including #1 Combatant. Although his pedigree suggests that turf could ultimately be his preferred surface (and he did open his career with a fourth-place finish on the grass at Churchill Downs), he enters the Remington Springboard Mile off a decisive win going a mile on dirt at Churchill, in which he rallied from a couple lengths behind a fast pace to win going away by 2 ¾ lengths, earning a 90 BRIS speed figure.
Drawing the rail could be ideal for Combatant since one-mile races at Remington start close to the first turn, putting horses drawn on the far outside at a disadvantage. Having jockey Ricardo Santana, Jr. aboard doesn’t hurt either—Santana has ridden in just nine races at the current Remington meet, but has won four of them while placing in three more.
The California shippers #5 Flip the Coin Jan and #12 Greyvitos also warrant respect, particularly Greyvitos, who posted a gate-to-wire upset win in the seven-furlong Bob Hope Stakes (gr. III) last time out with a 98 BRIS speed figure. But Greyvitos has drawn the far outside post position, which could lead to a tricky trip, while Flip the Coin Jan could find the competition a bit tougher after requiring five tries to break his maiden, finally doing so in a one-mile maiden claiming race at Del Mar.
#10 Believe in Royalty ships in from Laurel Park after winning two straight races, including a one-mile allowance race by a very easy 3 ¾ lengths, earning a 88 BRIS speed figure. Trained by Larry Jones, Believe in Royalty is the first foal out of Jones’ 2012 Kentucky Oaks (gr. I) winner Believe You Can and has already run three times at a mile, so we know the distance shouldn’t be an issue.
But Believe in Royalty is a front-runner, and he’ll surely face pace pressure from Greyvitos and also #9 Redatory, who won the seven-furlong Clever Trevor Stakes at Remington in gate-to-wire fashion last month. I was impressed by the manner in which Redatory prevailed, running his rivals off their feet through quick fractions of :22.32 and :45.31 and repulsing a stretch challenge from runner-up #4 Bode’s Maker to win by better than two lengths with an 86 BRIS speed figure. He also showed speed in his debut win, where he beat the next-out winners Royal Reality and Higher Power decisively.
Given the possibility of a decent early pace, I’ll side with Combatant as a bit of a value play—at 4-1 or higher, I think he’s worth betting to win. I’ll also key him in the exacta with Greyvitos and Redatory, as I believe they’re more likely to survive a pace battle than Believe in Royalty, who has not yet been part of a fast pace.
$8 win on #1 Combatant at 4-1 or higher $3 exacta: 1 with 9,12 ($6) $3 exacta: 9,12 with 1 ($6) (Total cost $20)