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2023 Jeff Ruby Steaks

horse racing
Jareth Loveberry celebrates aboard Two Phil's after winning the 2023 Jeff Ruby Steaks

Date: 03/25/2023

The highlight race of the Turfway Park winter-spring meeting is the $700,000 Jeff Ruby Steaks (G3) contested at 1 1/8 miles on the Polytrack worth 100 points to the winner as part of the Kentucky Derby Championship Series, run 6 weeks before the Kentucky Derby. Conditions were typical for early spring with cloudy skies, temperatures in the mid 50s, and a stiff wind gusts of around 40 MPH. Major Dude was sent off as the 7-4 favorite in the field of 10 off his win in the Kitten's Joy (G3) over the Gulfstream turf. In to challenge him included 11-4 second choice Two Phil's, third in the Risen Star (G2) after finishing second in the Lecomte (G3), and 5-1 third choice Wadsworth, making his stakes debut off a 2 race win streak in allowance company.
horse racing
Two Phil's draws off in the stretch

Jockey Gerardo Corrales sent 11-2 fourth choice Funtastic Again to the lead first time by through fractions of 23.49, 47.84, and 1:11.91 while presed by 32-1 Bluebirds Over and stalked by Major Dude and Wadsworth. Turning for home, Two Phil's, 7th early, came out wide and swept to the lead through 1 mile in 1:36.69. Kept to task by Jareth Loveberry, Two Phil's drew off to win by 5 1/4 lengths over favorite Major Dude in 1:49.03. It was another 2 1/4 lengths back to Funtastic Again third.
horse racing
Pgm  Horse               Jockey         Win   Place   Show
10   Two Phil's          Loveberry     7.60    3.90   2.92
 1   Major Dude          Ortiz Jr.             3.28   2.56
 4   Funtastic Again     Corrales                     3.96

Winning Time:  1:49.03

$2 Exacta 10-1                   25.60
$0.50 Trifecta 10-1-4            39.76
$0.10 Superfecta 10-1-4-11       25.44
Results Chart

horse racinghorse racingLeft: Two Phil's in the winner's circle. Winning trainer Larry Rivelli said, "The original plan probably wasn't to run in this spot. I was just looking for the best route to get Two Phil's to the Kentucky Derby. With this race on the calendar I thought it was the perfect timing and perfect spot. We're on our way to the Derby."

Right: The trophy presentation for the Jeff Ruby Steaks.

horse racinghorse racingLeft: Two Phil's in the paddock before the race.

Right: Two Phil's parades with the flowers after the race. Winning jockey Jareth Loveberry said, "Three weeks ago I suffered a hairline fracture in my left fibula but I'm pretty high on life right now and don't feel that too much. Two Phil's has seemed to get better each week this winter at Fair Grounds. Last time he had a beatiful trip but he seems to do his best running while behind horses. I think he's getting better with each start. He ran well in the Lecomte but I thought he was even better in the Risen Star. It's just very exciting to be partnered with a horse like this and a team that's supported me."

horse racinghorse racing
Left: Second place finisher and beaten favorite Major Dude in the paddock. Jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. said, "I was just second best to the winner today. I sat a great trip and was in a perfect spot. The winner outkicked us going for home."

Right: Third place finisher Funtastic Again leads first time by. The Wesley Ward trainee improved his record to 3 wins, 0 seconds, and 1 third in 6 starts, earning $252,806 for owner Three Chimneys Farm.


horse racing
The distaff counterpart to the Jeff Ruby is the $300,000 Bourbonette Oaks, worth 50 points to the winner in the Kentucky Oaks Championship Series, with a field of 10 three-year-old fillies contesting this 1 1/16 mile trip. Cincinnati Trophy Stakes winner Botanical was sent off as the even-money choice. In to challenge her included 3-1 second choice Flashy Gem, making her stakes debut off 2 allowance wins, and 7-2 third choice Bolivie, making her American debut after finishing second in the Prix de la Californie Handicap at Cagnes-sur-Mer, France.

Jockey Chris Landeros sent Botanical to the front first time by through fractions of 24.58, 48.51, and 1:13.49 while pressed by 19-1 Renegade Rebel and stalked by Flashy Gem. Turning for home Botanical continued to lead through 1 mile in 1:38.34, and drew clear late to win by 2 1/2 lengths over Flashy Gem in 1:44.47. It was a long 7 lengths back to 33-1 Thirty Thou Kelvin third.

Results Chart

horse racinghorse racing Left: Botanical in the winner's circle. Tessa Walden, assistant to winning trainer Brad Cox said, "I can't really tell you exactly what made her who she is today but she seems to be getting better with every race. I think anytime you get in a race like the Kentucky Oaks you will go there. It's a once in a lifetime opportunity."

Right: Botanical gets a pat after the race.

horse racinghorse racing Left: The trophy presentation for the Bourbonette Oaks. The Brad Cox trainee improved her record to 4 wins, 1 second, and 0 thirds in 6 starts, earning $374,410 for owners LNJ Foxwoods and Clearsky Farms.

Right: The fillies break from the gate for the Bourbonette Oaks.


horse racing
The $300,000 TwinSpires Kentucky Cup Classic featured a field of 10 older horses going 1 1/8 miles. Wolfie's Dynaghost was sent off as the 5-2 favorite off a handicap win at Gulfstream, over 13-4 second choice Santin, unraced since 4th in the Seabiscuit Handicap (G3) in November, and 9-2 third choice Ocean Atlantique, winner of the Dust Commander Stakes.

Wolfie's Dynaghost and 28-1 Two Birds dueled for the early lead through an opening quarter of 23.74 before Wolfie's Dynaghost took over down the back through fraction of 48.62 and 1:12.37. Turning for home, Wolfie's Dynaghost continued to lead through 1 mile in 1:37.30. Kept to task by jockey John Velazquez, Wolfie's Dynaghost drew off to win by 2 1/4 lengths over late-running 9-1 Verstappen in 1:50.09. It was a long 4 lengths back to 13-2 fourth choice King Cause third.

Results Chart

horse racinghorse racing Left: Wolfie's Dynaghost heads to the winner's circle. Winning jockey John Velazquez said, "It was pretty easy. He went forward the way we thought he was going to be. It was a nice rhythm, when I asked him to run, he was there for me."

Right: Wolfie's Dynaghost in the paddock. Velazquez added, "Jonathan (Thomas, trainer) told me he was training really well, just let him do his thing...We're going to win."

horse racing
The horses break from the gate and #9 Santini goes to his knees, but goes on to finish fourth.


horse racing
The $250,000 Rushaway Stakes featured a full field of 12 three-year-olds going 1 1/16 miles on the Polytrack. Colonel Liam Stakes 6th place finisher Santorini was sent off as the 2-1 favorite over 3-1 second choice Moon Landing, 4th in the John Battaglia Memorial, and 11-2 third choice Midnight Rising off his debut win. Moon Landing and 6-1 fourth choice Worthington battled for the lead through fractions of 23.73, 48.73, and 1:13.67 while stalked by Santorini and 18-1 Itzos. Turning for home the pacesetters tired as Midnight Rising took over through 1 mile in 1:38.97. 30-1 Rarified Flair, 8th early under Chris Landeros, came out 4 wide for his rally and outfinished deep closing 35-1 Ocean Pointe to win in 1:45.45. It was another length back to favorite Santorini third.

Results Chart

horse racinghorse racing
Left: Rarified Flair in the winner's circle. Winning jockey Chris Landeros said, "Kenny (McPeek) had confidence in him. He said he was going to run big."

Right: Rarified Flair heads back to the barn after the race.


horse racinghorse racing
The $250,000 Latonia Stakes featured a field of 9 older fillies and mares going 1 1/16 miles. 7-1 Grand Ave Girl set the pace of 23.39 and 47.63 while pressed by 5-2 favorite Idiomatic and stalked by 9-2 third choice Il Malocchio. Turning for home, Idiomatic took over the lead through 1 mile in 1:37.89. Kept to task by Chris Landeros, Idiomatic drew off to win by 2 lengths over late-running 3-1 second choice Kate's Kingdom in 1:44.50. It was another 3 lengths back to 5-1 fourth choice Bellamore third. The Brad Cox trainee improved her record to 4 wins and 2 thirds in 6 starts, earning $297,970 for owner-breeder Juddmonte Farms.

Results Chart

horse racing
The horses break from the gate for the Latonia Stakes.


horse racinghorse racing
Kicking off the stakes sextet on Saturday was the $250,000 Animal Kingdom Stakes with a short field of just five (after three scratches) 3-year-olds sprinting 6 furlongs. 5-2 second choice Olazabal set the pace of 22.26 and 46.54 while pressed by 7-10 favorite Eye Witness and stalked by 7-1 Moonstrike. In the stretch Eye Witness took over at the 1/8 pole. Kept to task by Irad Ortiz Jr., Eye Witness drew off to win by 5 lengths in 1:11.76. It was another 5 1/2 lengths back to 13-2 third choice Brazen Boy third.

Results Chart

The Wesley Ward trainee improved his record to 2 wins and 1 third in 3 starts, earning $123,240 for owners Westerberg, Mrs. John Magnier, Jonathan Poulin, Berrick Smith, and Michael Tabor.


horse racinghorse racing Between races, 2022 Kentucky Derby (G1) winner Rich Strike paraded for the fans in the paddock and out on the track. Due to his Derby win, off his 3rd place finish in the Jeff Ruby Steaks, the race was upgraded from 50 points to the maximum 100-point level by Churchill Downs, recognizing the race belongs in the top tier of prep races. He was scheduled to make his 2023 debut in the TwinSpires Kentucky Cup Classic today but was not entered due to "a very non-serious issue", later revealed to be a nicked quarter. Trainer Eric Reed added, "He has a spot about the size of your fingernail that's a little raw that will take three or four days to toughen back up. So we are going to back off and make sure he is 100%. He was out on the track this morning (Thursday) and was fine." Unraced since finishing sixth in the Clark (G1) in November, he is expected to go next in either the Ben Ali (G3) at Keeneland or the Oaklawn Handicap (G2), both scheduled for April 22.

Photos courtesy of Amber Chalfin

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