Shapiro: California shippers in Springboard Mile
Combatant broke his maiden at Churchill Downs on October 29 for trainer Steve Asmussen (Churchill Downs/Coady Photography)
by Scott Shapiro
The focus of the early Triple Crown prep season shifts to Remington Park in Oklahoma this Sunday as the $400,000 Springboard Mile offers two-year-olds a chance at earning qualifying points in the Road to the Kentucky Derby series for the initial time.
With 17 points on the line (10-4-2-1), not only did the eight-furlong event that headlines a strong 12-race card attract runners from some of the top barns in the region, but it also drew two colts from Southern California with Kentucky Derby aspirations a little less than six months out from the 2018 “Run for the Roses.”
Greyvitos (#12) is listed as the heavy 6-5-morning-line favorite off his wire-to-wire victory in the Bob Hope Stakes (G3) at Del Mar on November 11. The Triple B Farms runner took the lead from his inside draw in that compact field of six and made every pole a winning one capturing the seven-furlong race by 1 1/2 lengths in the end.
The son of Malibu Moon certainly showed the talent that some had spoken about locally before he took on graded stakes company as a maiden, but he faces a much different task in the Springboard Mile on Sunday making him tough to endorse at a short price for trainer Adam Kitchingman.
Greyvitos drew the far outside post in the full field of 12, which is far from ideal given the short run into the first turn in one-mile races at Remington Park. Additionally the presence of several others that like to be prominently placed drawn to his inside will make things difficult for jockey Victor Espinoza.
Greyvitos will either have to be much the best or have to show a new dimension from off the pace to get the best of this group of juveniles. Either way, he is worth taking a shot against at anything near his morning-line odds.
The other West Coast import in the Springboard Mile is Flip the Coin Jan (#5).
This son of Trappe Shot tried maiden special weight company twice this summer for former conditioner Keith Desormeaux and ran OK while beating more than half the field in a pair of one-turn races over the main track. Despite the third- and fourth-place finishes, Desormeaux did not see enough from the colt and dropped him in for $50K on August 30, where he went off the 2-1 favorite and was claimed by current trainer Doug O’Neill.
It took the Kentucky-bred three starts at the high-level maiden claiming ranks before he dominated a field of non-winners last month by a widening 7 1/4 lengths under jockey Mario Gutierrez. While that victory was impressive for the level, it is a far cry from shipping half-way across the country and taking on this type of competition.
Flip the Coin Jan is likely to get outsprinted early. He is 8-1 on the line, so there is not a lot of value in tossing him out of the exotics, but I do not see him factoring in the outcome nonetheless.
My wagering strategy for the Springboard Mile:
Despite the continued success of Southern California shippers in dirt stakes races, I think it is a must to take a shot against a horse who is trying something new for the first time at a short price. With the fear that Greyvitos regresses off of his last and/or gets caught wide in the early going, I will toss him and hope for the best.
Combatant (#1) comes off a solid run from a few lengths off the pace over Churchill Downs’ one-turn mile configuration. If he handles two turns he should be rolling late.
Redatory (#9) is a perfect two-for-two after a gate-to-wire win in the Clever Trevor Stakes on November 3. He will have to work harder on the front end and prove he can get a route of ground, but 12-1 is fair odds.
Believe in Royalty (#10) has won impressively in two straight one-mile races for trainer Larry Jones. If Robby Albarado can get him to relax just off the early pace he has a massive shot of making it three in a row.
I will center my wagering around these three horses and toss in a few long shots for second and third in the trifecta and hope we can get the best of the morning-line chalk.
$1 Trifecta Wheel
1+9+10 with 1+4+9+10 with 1+4+5+9+10+11 = $36
$5 Exacta Box
1+9+10 = $30
Good luck at the windows!