Spendthrift Farm’s multiple graded stakes-winning three-year-old Major Dude headlines a talented field of 12 colts and geldings entered in Saturday’s 52nd running of the $700,000 Jeff Ruby Steaks (G3) at Turfway Park.
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. (ET). First post for the stellar program will be 12:45 p.m. Along with the Jeff Ruby Steaks, the stakes-laden card will also feature the 41st running of the $300,000 Bourbonette Oaks, a Road to the Kentucky Oaks Championship Series qualifier.
The Jeff Ruby Steaks will offer the top five 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 (G1).
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 Pilgrim (G2) at the Belmont at Aqueduct meet. Following a disappointing ninth-place effort in the $1 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G1), Major Dude made his three-year-old debut in the Dania Beach at Gulfstream Park where he rallied for second at even-money. In his last start, Major Dude contested the Kitten’s Joy (G3), defeating seven rivals by 1 1/2 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 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 1/4-length victory in the Street Sense (G3) at Churchill Downs. Following that effort, Two Phil’s was the runner-up to Instant Coffee in January’s Lecomte (G3) and third to Angel of Empire and Sun Thunder in the Risen Star (G2) a month later.
Based at Hawthorne the last four weeks, Two Phil’s arrived at Turfway March 13 and has been training daily over the Florence, Kentucky 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 oddsmaker Mike Battaglia’s morning line.
Among the other top competitors is 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 1/2-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 with Leon in the irons. Congruent was tabbed at odds of 5-1 on the morning line.
One of the top local contenders is Funtastic Again. Trained by 2021 Jeff Ruby Steaks winning conditioner Wesley Ward, Funtastic Again has not returned to the races since his stout 3 3/4-length win in the Leonatus S. at Turfway on Jan. 21. Prior to the Leonatus Stakes, Funtastic Again dazzled in a first-level allowance contest by 5 1/2 lengths at Turfway. Gerardo Corrales will ride the son of Funtastic from post 4 at odds of 6-1.
Starting at 6 p.m., fans can watch the Jeff Ruby Steaks on a special Road to the Kentucky Derby broadcast on CNBC. Wagering is available for every race from Turfway Park on www.TwinSpires.com, the official wagering provider of Churchill Downs Inc.
Botanical, the dazzling 6 1/2-length winner of the Cincinnati Trophy S. three weeks ago, headlines a field of 11 three-year-old fillies entered in the 1 1/16-mile Bourbonette Oaks
The Bourbonette Oaks is one of six stakes events on the Jeff Ruby Steaks Day card and has a scheduled post time of 5:43 p.m. The top five finishers will receive points on a 50-20-15-10-5 scale towards the $1.25 million Kentucky Oaks (G1) on May 5.
Trained by Brad Cox, Botanical is undefeated in three starts at Turfway Park. The daughter of Medaglia d’Oro crushed a field of 11 on Nov. 30 to break her maiden by 10 3/4 lengths. Two starts ago, Botanical was tested against first-level allowance company and made quick work of her nine rivals by 4 1/2 lengths. In the Cincinnati Trophy, Botanical sat nine lengths behind a runaway pacesetter and easily defeated her six rivals as the heavy 4-5 favorite. Jockey Chris Landeros will have the return call and break from post No. 5.
Chief among Botanical’s top rivals is California shipper Ag Bullet. Trained by George Papaprodromou, Ag Bullet is scheduled to make her first start outside California in the Bourbonette Oaks. She exits a neck win in the Lady Shamrock S., and the gray daughter of Twirling Candy will break from post 11 with Umberto Rispoli in the saddle.
Another stakes winner is Renegade Rebel. Trained by Mark Casse and ridden by Rafael Hernandez, Renegade Rebel is slated to make her three-year-old debut in the Bourbonette Oaks. As a two-year-old, Renegade Rebel impressively broke her maiden by seven lengths at Woodbine and followed that victory one month later with a front-running score in the Mazzarine S. (G3). Renegade Rebel will break from the rail.