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FLORENCE, KY – A full dozen will line up for the Jeff Ruby Steaks (G3) Saturday at Turfway Park in the hunt for points toward the Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve (G1). The Jeff Ruby Steaks awards 20 points to the winner, 8 to the runner-up, four to the show horse, and two to the horse finishing fourth.
It’s fitting that Field Pass and Invader are one-two on the morning line. Their trainers are neck-and-neck in the standings for the current Turfway Park meet. Mike Maker trains Field Pass, who tops the morning line at 3-1, while Wesley Ward trains Invader, the 7-2 second choice. Ward currently leads Maker 15 wins to 13 in the Turfway standings.
Invader landed post 11 for the Jeff Ruby and Ward is happy with the draw. “I like the post,” he said. “He won his last race (Turfway’s listed John Battaglia Memorial) towards the outside. He has good natural speed, so he can break from out there and get good position. It beats being on the inside, so it’s good to be out there.”
Invader has gained valuable experience in the morning from an accomplished, older workmate. Ward has paired him with Bound for Nowhere, his 6-year-old Grade 2 winner. “He’s been working head-and-head with Bound for Nowhere, so he’s really doing well,” Ward said. “He owns a lot of flesh, maybe too much; that might be his only downfall.”
Third on the line at 4-1, Myamanoi was fourth in the one-mile Dania Beach Stakes (listed) at Gulfstream Feb. 1 in his last outing, but his finish position doesn’t tell the whole story; he rallied from last in the field of 10 to finish less than a length behind the winner, Field Pass.
Danny Gargan trains Myamanoi for Corms Racing Stable and R. A. Hill Stables. “He’s doing really good,” Gargan said. “His last race he got left at the gate and made up a lot of ground. He was the best horse in the race. He doesn’t have to come from as far back as last time; he just broke really poorly.
“He should love the distance. I’ve been dying to run him a mile and an eighth. He’s doing so good right now and I don’t expect anyone in there to benefit from the distance as much as him. We may need to get a little pace, but I love the way he’s progressing. I’m pleased with the (five) post. I think he’s going to run a big race and I expect to win.
“I was pointing for this race even going into (the Dania Beach),” Gargan added. “Plus Jeff Ruby is my favorite restaurant. I can’t wait to get to the one in Lexington.”
Myamanoi may have company on a late run to the wire. Although Finnick the Fierce (6-1) was closer to the pace when sprinting to his debut win at Indiana Grand, he has raced well off the pace when routing. The Dialed In gelding will break from post eight, and trainer Rey Hernandez is happy with that outcome.
“The eight is a good post,” Hernandez said. “I’m happy with it. He’s definitely the type to come from off the pace, but we’ll see how the track is playing. Sometimes they stop and sometimes they keep going.”
The field for the Jeff Ruby Steaks:
Finnick the Fierce
Irad Ortiz Jr.
The first of 12 races on Saturday’s card runs at 1:10 p.m. The six stakes run consecutively, starting with the Animal Kingdom Stakes at 3:42 p.m. and ending with the Jeff Ruby Steaks at 6:42 p.m.
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