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Vinny from Real Dynasty Picks previews the 2023 Jeff Ruby Steaks (G3) from Turfway Park, then gives his top picks & long shots from this 100-point prep race for the 2023 Kentucky Derby (G1). The Todd Pletcher-trained Major Dude makes his synthetic racing surface debut after winning a pair of graded stakes on turf earlier in his career. Will he successfully switch over? Tell us YOUR thoughts in the Comments section!
Spendthrift Farm’s multiple graded stakes winning 3-year-old Major Dude headlines a talented field of 12 colts and geldings that were entered in Saturday’s 52nd running of the $700,000 Jeff Ruby Steaks (Grade III) at Turfway Park Racing & Gaming.
The Jeff Ruby Steaks, a Road to the Kentucky Derby Championship Series qualifier, will go as Race 12 of 13 with a post time of 6:25 p.m. (all times Eastern) First post for the stellar program will be 12:45 p.m. Along with the Jeff Ruby Steaks, stakes-laden card will also feature the 41st running of the $300,000 Bourbonette Oaks; the 23rd running of the $300,000 TwinSpires Kentucky Cup Classic (Listed); the 37th running of the $250,000 Animal Kingdom Stakes; the 41st running of the $250,000 Latonia Stakes; and the 36th running of the $250,000 Rushaway.
The Jeff Ruby Steaks will offer the top 5 finishers points on a 100-40-30-20-10 scale towards a spot in the starting gate for the $3 million Kentucky Derby presented by Woodford Reserve (GI).
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Two-time graded stakes winner Major Dude will invade Turfway Park from his South Florida base for Hall of Fame trainer Todd Pletcher. The son of Bolt d’Oro tabbed his first stakes victory on Oct. 2 in the $200,000 Pilgrim (GII) at the Belmont at Aqueduct meet. Following a disappointing ninth-place effort in the $1 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (GI), Major Dude made his 3-year-old debut in the $100,000 Dania Beach at Gulfstream Park where he rallied for second and even-money. In his last start, Major Dude contested the $175,000 Kitten’s Joy (GIII) and defeated seven rivals by 1 ½ lengths under Irad Ortiz Jr.
Ortiz will once again have the mount on Major Dude in the Jeff Ruby Steaks. Ortiz last rode at Turfway in 2020 when he won the Jeff Ruby Steaks aboard Field Pass. Ortiz and Major Dude will break from the rail as the morning line favorite at odds of 2-1.
Another talented 3-year-old that entered the Jeff Ruby Steaks is Patricia’s Hope and Phillip Sagan’s two-time stakes winner Two Phil’s. Trained by Larry Rivelli, Two Phil’s seven-race campaign has solely been over dirt and the Jeff Ruby will be his first test on Tapeta. The chestnut son of Hard Spun began his march to the Kentucky Derby after his dominant 5 ¼-length victory in the $200,000 Street Sense (GIII) at Churchill Downs. Following that effort, Two Phil’s was the runner-up to Instant Coffee in the $200,000 Lecomte (GIII) and third-place finisher to Angel of Empire and Sun Thunder in the $400,000 Risen Star (GII). Four weeks ago, Rivelli opted to ship to the colt back from Fair Grounds to his base at Hawthorne to begin his preparation for the Jeff Ruby Steaks. Two Phil’s arrived at Turfway March 13 and has been training daily over the Florence oval.
Jockey Jareth Loveberry, who’s ridden Two Phil’s in his last six starts, will have the call in the Jeff Ruby Steaks from post 10 as the 7-2 second choice on Mike Battaglia’s morning line odds.
Among the other top competitors in the Jeff Ruby is Tami Bobo and Lugamo Racing Stable’s $150,000 John Battaglia Memorial winner Congruent. Ridden by Kentucky Derby 148 winning jockey Sonny Leon, Congruent invaded Turfway from Gulfstream Park and scored an impressive 3 ½-length victory in the John Battaglia Memorial. The gray son of Tapit will attempt to duplicate that same effort from three weeks ago from post 8 and Leon in the irons. Congruent was tabbed at odds of 5-1 on the morning line.
One of the top local contenders entered in the Jeff Ruby Steaks is Three Chimneys Farm’s Funtastic Again. Trained by 2021 Jeff Ruby Steaks winning conditioner Wesley Ward, Funtastic Again has not returned to the races since his stout 3 ¾-length win in the $125,000 Leonatus Stakes on Jan. 21 at Turfway. Prior to the Leonatus Stakes, Funtastic Again dazzled in a first-level allowance contest by 5 ½ lengths at Turfway.
Jockey Gerardo Corrales will ride the son of Funtastic from post 4 at odds of 6-1.
1. Major Dude (Ortiz, Pletcher, 2-1)
2. Scoobie Quando (Luan Machado, Ben Colebrook, 15-1)
3. Event Detail (Walter Rodriguez, Paulo Lobo, 20-1)
4. Funtastic Again (Corrales, Ward, 6-1)
5. Maker’s Candy (Umberto Rispoli, Mike Maker, 12-1)
6. Baby Billy (Joe Talamo, Jack Sisterson, 30-1)
7. Bluebirds Over (Edgard Zayas, Saffie Joseph Jr., 12-1)
8. Congruent (Leon, Sano, 5-1)
9. Escapologist (Alex Achard, Kenny McPeek, 30-1)
10. Two Phil’s (Loveberry, Rivelli, 7-2)
11. Wadsworth (Chris Landeros, Brad Cox, 8-1)
12. Point Proven (John Velazquez, Todd Pletcher, 15-1)
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