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Jeff Ruby Steaks Preview

The Jeff Ruby Steaks (G3) is a 1 18-mile race run over the synthetic surface at Turfway Park. The $200,000 race on March 9 drew a field of 11 three-year-olds and the top-4 finishers respectively receive 20-8-4-2 points towards qualifying for the May 4 Kentucky Derby (G1). The race was moved up in the schedule one week this year so trainers can use this Derby prep and have a little more time and flexibility towards resting their runners and planning a final prep over the dirt to get enough points to qualify for the Run for the Roses. Run since 1972 and formerly the Spiral Stakes, the Jeff Ruby is in the second year of sponsorship.

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The Mike Maker-trained Somelikeithotbrown (#10) (8-5) and Mark Casse-conditioned Skywire (#6) (3-1) lead the Jeff Ruby field. Somelikeithotbrown is 2-2-1 in six career starts and finished third in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G1) last November. His only race since came in the local Jeff Ruby Steaks prep, the John Battaglia Memorial on February 15, where he sat off the leaders as the favorite and ran away from them in the stretch to win by 3 12 lengths going 1 116 miles. A similar outside stalking trip from post 10 is expected with new pilot Tyler Gaffalione riding the son of 2008 Kentucky Derby winner Big Brown. Somelikeithotbrown is the only horse in the field who has run at this 1 18-mile distance, doing so to break his maiden last August over Saratoga’s turf course. He’s the morning-line favorite and also the most likely winner.

Skywire is two-for-two, including an allowance win last out in the slop at Gulfstream Park. Throw it out and, him at this price while facing stakes company for the first time, even against a weaker field.

Five Star General (#3) (6-1) is the speed in the race and will set the early fractions. He’s won two races but regressed last month, finishing sixth in the Sam F. Davis Stakes (G3) at Tampa Bay Downs when unable to get toward the front. Dabo (#4) (10-1) runs for trainer Dale Romans and the Illinois-bred has strong synthetic breeding but needs a very fast pace up front, which is not as likely here.

Curlin Grey (#9) (10-1) is trained by Kenny McPeek and ridden by Brian Hernandez Jr. The son of the great Curlin has one win in seven starts and shows room for improvement in his stakes debut. Dynamic Racer (#1) (15-1) is another longshot who could grab a piece of the pie underneath. He finished second in the John Battaglia Memorial and will get a ground-saving trip from the rail.

Moonster (#2) (20-1), Baytown Jimbo (#5) (20-1), Counter Offer (#7) (10-1), Twelfthofneverland (#8) (12-1) and Speed App (#11) (30-1) complete the field.

Two colts have won this race and gone on to win the Kentucky Derby: Lil E. Tee (1992) and Animal Kingdom (2011). Three others in the early 1990s won the race and also another Triple Crown race.

The Jeff Ruby Stakes is Race 11 on March 9 at Turfway Park. Post time for the Jeff Ruby is 6:37 p.m. (ET). The $100,000 Bourbonette Oaks for three-year-old fillies, a Road to the Kentucky Oaks (G1) points contest, is Race 10 with a 5:51 p.m. (ET) post.