A dozen line up in Saturday’s $250,000 Jeff Ruby Steaks (G3) with Like the King looking to turn the tables and stamp his ticket to the Kentucky Derby (G1).
For the first time the Jeff Ruby (previously known as the Spiral Stakes) offers up the premium 100-40-20-10 points as a Road to the Kentucky Derby race.
The top four finishers of the John Battaglia Memorial won by Hush of a Storm (4-1) are back. The runner up Like the King (6-1) drew the rail and the third-place finisher Gretsky the Great (5-1) was the beaten favorite, dueling for the early lead and weakening in the stretch.
The 3-1 morning line favorite is the Rodolphe Brisset trained Tarantino, who was fourth in the Fountain of Youth (G2) at Gulfstream Park in his last outing. The colt makes his first start over a synthetic surface. His two wins have come on turf, his maiden breaker in his debut at Del Mar and beating Alw-1 optional claimers at Gulfstream Park last December.
John Battaglia Memorial Replay
It has been a while since this race has had an impact on the Kentucky Derby. Animal Kingdom used the race as a prep before winning the 2011 Kentucky Derby and Hard Spun won the race in 2007 when it was called the Lane’s End (G2) and went on to run second in the Kentucky Derby.
The Jeff Ruby is one of four Road to the Kentucky Derby points races today. The Florida Derby (G1) and UAE Derby (G2) in Dubai offer up 100-40-20-10 points. On the Japan Road to the Kentucky Derby the Fukuryu Stakes at Nakayama will offer up 40-16-8-4 points toward entry.
My Best Plays Report for Saturday will include my strongest plays from Aqueduct, Turfway Park and Gulfstream Park.
Let’s head out to Turfway Park for Saturday’s featured race of the day:
Turfway Park Race 11 The Jeff Ruby Steaks G3 6:25 ET
1 Like the King 6-1
7 Tarantino 3-1
2 Hush of a Storm 4-1
10 Gretzky the Great 5-1
Like the King
This colt is one of four to exit the John Battaglia Memorial where he finished in the runner up spot. The Ward trainee tracked the early pace, turned for home right in the mix and was battling on when getting caught in tight as the winner Hush of a Storm came in on him late, beaten 1 ½ lengths. The winner survived a steward’s inquiry. The colt broke his maiden on turf and beat Alw-1 optional claimers two back in his first start over the synthetic surface at Turfway Park. He should get a similar trip here sitting just off the pace and looks capable of moving forward in his second start off a 2 ½ month break for the Ward barn. He put in a bullet breezes over at Keeneland on March 20.
The colt was no match for Greatest Honour in a runner up finish in the Holy Bull (G3) and a fourth-place finish in the Fountain of Youth (G2). Instead of taking on that foe today in the Florida Derby (G1) he ships here for an easier way to earn his ticket to the Run for the Roses. Both of his wins have come on turf and he should take to the fake stuff. He is by Pioneerof the Nile out of a Seeking the Gold mare that has dropped four other winners including stakes winner Before You Know It ($313,083) who won two of three starts over synthetic surfaces. Horses that last raced at Gulfstream Park have won seven of the last 10 editions of this race. He picks up Geroux for Brissett who has sent out live runners at the meeting, 10 of his 19 starters landing in the exacta.
Hush of a Storm
The Morey trainee has shown improvement with each outing and is coming off his win in the prep, the Battaglia Memorial. The colt made a good late rally, bearing in late in beating our top pick by 1 ½ lengths. He did interfere with our top pick in the stretch, but the stewards did not think it warranted a disqualification. He is now perfect in his three trips over the main track here and one of just three in the field that are proven over the surface. It looks as if he is going to get some pace to run at and his 4-1 morning line looks fair enough, but he seems likely to go off a bit lighter.