12/07/2012 4:39PM

Remington Park: Exploring needs best in competitive Springboard Mile

Michael Burns
Exploring is the horse to beat in a wide-open Springboard Mile.

Exploring has long been well-regarded by his connections, and on Sunday will get his first shot at stakes competition in the $300,000 Springboard Mile at Remington Park. The race for 2-year-olds closes out the meet, and it anchors a special afternoon card of four stakes worth a cumulative $450,000.

Exploring is part of a 12-horse field that includes King Henny, who won the local Springboard prep, the $100,000 Clever Trevor. In addition, Backstreet Hero, Best of Birdstone, and Steelman Run all come out of the Clever Trevor, while Will Take Charge, a son of the multiple Grade 1-winning mare Take Charge Lady, is in from Kentucky.

Exploring invades from Churchill Downs, where he worked five furlongs in a bullet 59.80 seconds Dec. 1. He is owned by John Oxley and trained by Mark Casse, the same team behind recent Grade 2 Kentucky Jockey Club winner Uncaptured, a leading prospect for the Kentucky Derby.

“We think a lot of this horse, and I thought about maybe going in the Kentucky Jockey Club with him,” Casse said of the race at Churchill. “But we had Uncaptured and we had Indiano Jones, and I didn’t want to run more than two, so we looked at this race.”

Exploring will be seeking his first win at two turns. He has made three career starts, debuting in a maiden special weight sprint at Saratoga in July. Exploring dueled and finished fourth to Spurious Precision, who in his next start won the Grade 2 Saratoga Special. Exploring also won his next start, taking a maiden special weight at seven furlongs at Woodbine. He enters the Springboard off a third-place finish in a first-level allowance route at Churchill on Oct. 28. He was beaten five lengths by Dewey Square, who in his next start finished third in the Kentucky Jockey Club. Exploring has since been working at Churchill.

“I was a little disappointed in his last race, but that was his first time around two turns,” Casse said. “And the winner, I think he’s a nice horse. But he ran a mile and a sixteenth and now we’re cutting back to a mile, so I think that will help. Now he’s got experience.

“He should be a much better horse on Sunday than he was in his last race. He’s got that experience. He was coming off Polytrack going to dirt, going to two turns, and now he’s coming back on dirt. He should just be a better horse. And his last work was extremely good.”

Glen Murphy has the mount on Exploring, from post 2.

Best of Birdstone will be making his two-turn debut after finishing third by a neck in the Clever Trevor. The race came one start after he won his career debut in the $50,000 Razorback Futurity at Louisiana Downs.

“He’s by Birdstone, so he’s supposed to like more ground,” trainer Donnie Von Hemel said. “I don’t think the mile will be any problem for him at all.”

Luis Quinonez, who won four races Thursday night at Remington, has the mount on the horse who will break from post 6.

Von Hemel won this race in 2006, when it was called the MEC Mile.

King Henny is seeking his third consecutive win, but is saddled with post 12. Jamie Theriot has the mount for Steve Asmussen, who had a 22-win lead in the trainer standings entering the races Friday.

Cliff Berry, who was up by three wins in the rider standings through Thursday, has the mount on stakes winner Worldventurer.

Broken Spell tops Mistletoe

Broken Spell, a Grade 1-placed runner who finished sixth in the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies, has a class edge in the $50,000 Mistletoe, which is an overnight stakes for 2-year-old fillies at a mile. Broken Spell enters off a fifth-place finish in the Grade 2 Golden Rod at Churchill. Victor Lebron has the mount for Bluegrass Hall and trainer D. Wayne Lukas.

◗ The multiple stakes-placed Z Rockstar is part of a competitive group of 12 in the $50,000 Jim Thorpe for 3-year-old Oklahoma-breds at seven furlongs. “I think it’s a good distance for him,” Von Hemel said. “It’s a nice little race. There’s four or five of them in there we’re sure going to have to outrun.”

Favorite Announcer, winner of his last three starts, goes for the meet’s leading owner, Danny Caldwell.

◗ Von Hemel has the probable favorite in the $50,000 Useeit for 3-year-old fillies bred in Oklahoma in Lady Jensen.