By Margaret Ransom
A pair of Kentucky Derby point-qualifiers are on tap this weekend: the $200,000 Springboard Mile at Remington Park on Friday night, and the $200,000 Los Alamitos Futurity (G2) on Saturday in California.
It’s still early on the road to the 2021 Kentucky Derby, but each race offers qualifying points of 10-4-2-1 to the first four finishers. The next Derby prep is the Jerome at Aqueduct on Jan. 1.
Six-time Derby winning trainer Bob Baffert sends out $1 million purchase Spielberg in a field of six entered for the Futurity, while Hall of Famer Steve Asmussen is seeking his eight win in the Springboard with Cowan and Saffa’s Day
A pair of Breeders’ Cup runners are among the 11 horses entered for the 1 mile Derby prep – Outadore, third in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G1) and Cowan, second in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint (G2). .
Breeze Easy LLC’s Outadore, trained by Wesley Ward, is the 3-1 morning-line favorite leaving from post 9 under David Cabrera; Cowan is the second choice at 4-1 leaving from post 8 under Stewart Elliott.
This will be Outadore’s first start on dirt. A son of Outwork, he won the Kentucky Downs Juvenile Turf Sprint in September after breaking his maiden on grass in Saratoga. He picks up blinkers and Lasix for the first time, as well as leading local rider Cabrera.
William and Corrine Heiligbrodt, Madaket Stables, LLC and Spendthrift Farm’s Cowan ran second behind Golden Pal in the Juvenile Turf Sprint on Nov. 6. The Kantharos colt broke his maiden on dirt at Churchill Downs last spring and then was fifth in the Ellis Park Juvenile before three starts on the grass. This will be his first test beyond 7 furlongs.
Saffa’s Day, Asmussen’s other starter, broke his maiden at first asking at Keeneland in early October but was a well-beaten sixth, by 17 lengths, in his second start in the Nyquist Stakes at Keeneland on Nov. 6. He gets Lasix and has a nice work over the track a week ago. Iram Diego rides.
Ike and Dawn Thrash’s Joe Frazier broke his maiden at first asking at Keeneland by three lengths in October and then was third in a first-level allowance around two turns at Churchill Downs a month later. The homebred colt by Distorted Humor, who is trained by Brad Cox, gets Lasix and Richard Eramia for the first time, and as an early running type he’ll surely be gunning for the lead from his next-to-outside post position.
Bret Calhoun will send out Tom Durant’s Game Day Play off a win in the Clever Trevor Stakes over this track at 7 furlongs seven weeks ago. The gelded son of Violence has some strong speed figures and a tactical turn of foot jockey Wade Lindey can use depending on how the pace sets up.
Terry Westemeier’s homebred Number One Dude, the lone Oklahoma-bred in the field, has won all three of his career starts, all over Remington’s main track, including two state-bred stakes, and is 6-1 on the morning-line. The gelded son of American Lion, who is trained by Kari Craddock, is already a winner at this distance and though he takes a step up in class, he’s so far risen to all challenges thrown at him. Eziquiel Lara rides.
The Springboard was first contested in 2001 as the Remington MEC Mile, but the name was changed to the Springboard Mile in 2009 after Magna Entertainment (now The Stronach Group) sold the track to Global Gaming, which is owned by the Chickasaw Indian Tribe. Since then, the event had increased in prominence and purse (before this year when the pandemic hit and the purses was dropped). In 2018, Long Range Toddy gained 10 points by winning the Springboard Mile and earned his way into the 2019 Kentucky Derby field, where he finished 16th.
Post time is 10:28 CT.
Bob Baffert looks to continue his dominance of the 2-year-old scene in Southern California as he seeks a fourth consecutive sweep of the Los Alamitos Starlet and Los Alamitos Futurity. Varda captured the Starlet two weeks ago and on Saturday, the Hall of Famer sends out SF Racing’s, Starlight Racing and Madaket Stables’ Spielberg.
In 2017 Dream Tree and McKinzie combined to take the two races for Baffert, and Chasing Yesterday and Improbable were victorious in 2018. Last year Bast took the Starlet while Thousand Words won the Futurity. Overall Baffert has saddled 12 winners of the Futurity dating back to before the races were moved to Los Alamitos in 2014 when Hollywood Park was still open.
Hall of Fame jockeys Laffit Pincay, Jr. and Alex Solis both rode four winners to lead all riders.
Tina and Jerry Moss’ seven-length Bob Hope (G3) winner Red Flag leads the field to post under regular jockey Victor Espinoza. The John Shirreffs-trained colt — from the first crop of Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (G1) winner Tamarkuz — seeks a third consecutive win in his first start around two turns. He is bred for the distance, though perhaps not much more. He has strong figures and works heading into this race, and while his post isn’t ideal, he is in capable hands under Hall of Famer Espinoza.
The hype surrounding $1 million purchase Spielberg before his Aug. 8 debut at Del Mar was palpable, but the son of Union Rags only managed a well-beaten second. The buzz was tempered a bit for his second start in the Del Mar Futurity (G1) a month later, but he also finished second. After a third in the American Pharoah Stakes (G1) at Santa Anita in late September, he broke his maiden in his fourth out in a driving performance at a flat mile before a confusing fourth-place finish in the Bob Hope Stakes behind Red Flag.
Never one to shy from a 2-year-old challenge, Baffert sends this colt out again in search of a stakes win off a couple of really good works, including a bullet 6 furlongs earlier this week. Despite his failure to reach the winner’s circle often, this colt clearly has the ability (and the figures to back it up) and a good outside post with speed to his inside, allowing jockey Flavien Prat the luxury of deciding where to place his colt early depending on the pace. He’ll probably be over bet, but he seems like a colt with a lot of upside heading into this short field.
Perry and Ramona Bass’ Petruchio, who is by leading sire and 2007 Futurity winner Into Mischief, makes his stakes debut after breaking his maiden in his fourth start over the turf six weeks ago. His Hall of Fame trainer, Richard Mandella, trained his sire and also 1994 winner Afternoon Deelites and he will be ridden by Hall of Famer Mike Smith, now recovered from COVID-19. This colt may be a better grass horse, but he’s had two good dirt efforts in his first two starts and he’s always trained well over it. He has good numbers and a stalker running style that will help him if a quick pace develops.
Best Pal Stakes (G3) winner Weston, from the first crop of Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G2) winner Hit it a Bomb, has a big heart and tries every time, the problem seems to be when he stretches out and steps up in class. It’s hard to blame trainer Ryan Hanson for rolling the dice in this race, and to be fair this colt can earned some figures to be competitive and has worked well in the mornings, he’d just need to revert to his form from the summer and that may be a tough task at this distance. Tyler Baze rides for the first time.
Winner, Winner and Winner’s Positivity makes his second start for trainer Paddy Gallagher and off a second in the Golden State Juvenile at Del Mar five weeks ago. It was the first loss for the $20,000 son of Paynter, who also won the Graduation Stakes at Del Mar, and while he tries two turns for the first time he is bred for it. He is stepping up in class, but he’s tough and consistent. Drayden Van Dyke will ride again.
The Great One, a cleverly named son of Nyquist, is still a maiden and figures to stay a maiden a little longer. It is important to note that Doug O’Neill likes to win graded stakes with maidens, such as Irap in the 2017 Blue Grass Stakes (G2).
Past stars to emerge from the Futurity, which was inaugurated in 1981, include Hall of Famer A.P. Indy in his first grade 1 win, Kentucky Derby winners Real Quiet and Point Given, champions Declan’s Moon and Lookin at Lucky, and the late fan-favored Shared Belief.
Post time is 1:28 p.m. PT
California native and lifelong horsewoman Margaret Ransom is a graduate of the University of Arizona’s Race Track Industry Program. She got her start in racing working in the publicity departments at Calder Race Course and Hialeah Park, as well as in the racing office at Gulfstream Park in South Florida. She then spent six years in Lexington, KY, at BRISnet.com, where she helped create and develop the company’s popular newsletters: Handicapper’s Edge and Bloodstock Journal.
After returning to California, she served six years as the Southern California news correspondent for BloodHorse, assisted in the publicity department at Santa Anita Park and was a contributor to many other racing publications, including HorsePlayer Magazine and Trainer Magazine. She then spent seven years at HRTV and HRTV.com in various roles as researcher, programming assistant, producer and social media and marketing manager.
She has also walked hots and groomed runners, worked the elite sales in Kentucky for top-class consignors and volunteers for several racehorse retirement organizations, including CARMA.
In 2016, Margaret was the recipient of the prestigious Stanley Bergstein Writing Award, sponsored by Team Valor, and was an Eclipse Award honorable mention for her story, “The Shocking Untold Story of Maria Borell,” which appeared on USRacing.com. The article and subsequent stories helped save 43 abandoned and neglected Thoroughbreds in Kentucky and also helped create a new animal welfare law known as the “Borell Law.”
Margaret’s very first Breeders’ Cup was at Hollywood Park in 1984 and she has attended more than half of the Breeders’ Cups since. She counts Holy Bull and Arrogate as her favorite horses of all time. She lives in Pasadena with her longtime beau, Tony, two Australian Shepherds and one Golden Retriever.