Turfway’s signature race, the cheekily-named Jeff Ruby Steaks (G3), happens Saturday, March 25! The $700,000 race for three-year-olds covers 1 1/8 miles on the Tapeta and drew a field of twelve runners hoping for a big payday and a trip to the Kentucky Derby. After all, the race offers 100-40-30-20-10 points to its top five finishers: meaning the winner is assured a place, and even underneath, finishers are most of the way there.
Leaders among this year’s group include Two Phil’s, who has gathered points in a pair of races on the Fair Grounds spur of the Derby trail; Major Dude, a multiple graded stakes-winning grass horse; and Congruent, who won Turfway’s other points race impressively. However, with a big field and many horses trying Tapeta for the first time, it will be an excellent betting puzzle that stands to feature big payouts.
In 2022, the Kentucky Derby winner took his final prep in the Jeff Ruby Steaks: Rich Strike ran third in this race before taking top honors in Kentucky. Two Kentucky Derby winners have won this race on the way to taking the roses: Lil E. Tee (1992) won it when Turfway still had a dirt track, while Animal Kingdom (2011) won over synthetic before winning on Churchill’s dirt as well.
Jeff Ruby Steaks 2023 Information
Race Date: Saturday, March 25, 2023
Track: Turfway Park
Post Time: 6:25 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time
Distance: 1 1/8 mile
Age/Sex: three-year-old fillies
Where to Watch: FanDuel TV
Where to Bet: TVG.com and FanDuel Racing
Jeff Ruby Steaks Odds
This is the field for the 2023 Jeff Ruby Steaks, which features a full field of twelve horses. Here is each horse along with their post, trainer, jockey, and morning line:
|Irad Ortiz, Jr.
|Saffie Joseph, Jr.
Jeff Ruby Steaks Prep Results
The twelve horses in the Jeff Ruby Steaks come out of eleven different races. The only race that brings more than one into this race is the local prep, the John Battaglia Memorial, whose top two finishers, Congruent and Scoobie Quando, press down the Derby trail. Funtastic Again was last seen winning the Leonatus, the three-year-old stakes at Turfway before the Battaglia.
Other than the Battaglia runners, the only other horses coming out of a points race are Two Phil’s, who was third in the Risen Star (G2) at Fair Grounds, and Event Detail, 10th in the Rebel. Major Dude comes out of a win in the Kitten’s Joy (G3) on the Gulfstream grass, while Maker’s Candy most recently crossed the wire first against New York-bred stakes horses on the Aqueduct dirt in the Gander, though he was placed second for interference. Two others ran off the board in stakes races last out: Bluebirds Over was fifth in the Colonel Liam on the Gulfstream grass.
Four other horses come out of non-stakes races. Wadsworth most recently won a first-level allowance at Turfway, while Point Proven was third in an N1X at Gulfstream. Escapologist broke his maiden at Fair Grounds on the lawn last out, while Baby Billy most recently broke his maiden on the Gulfstream grass.
Jeff Ruby Steaks Contenders
These are the contenders in the 2023 Jeff Ruby Steaks, organized by post position:
Major Dude: He tries Tapeta for the first time, but often turf form can transfer well to Tapeta, and his turf form is excellent. In four tries on the grass, all in stakes company, the only time he was out of the exacta was in the Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1). Irad Ortiz has ridden him for his last four starts and makes a point of shipping out to Turfway to ride: a sign of confidence for this Todd Pletcher trainee.
Scoobie Quando: He has raced just three times, but all of them have been solid efforts on the Turfway Tapeta, so he clearly likes the surface. He has also shown some pace versatility, sitting close to the pace in his debut (in a stakes that he won), while sitting a bit further back and rallying in his two route starts. He needs to move forward from those outings in this class, but it would be no surprise to see him get a piece underneath.
Event Detail: He found his footing in maiden races at Turfway in January, finishing second and then first. He was an uninvolved tenth in the Risen Star after that, though perhaps he didn’t like the dirt or the slop. Expect him to come running if the early pace gets fast, though he will need a big step forward off his existing form to be a factor here.
Funtastic Again: He has freshened since a win in the Leonatus, a race that he took wire to wire. Expect him to be part of the speed, as all three of his wins have come on the front end. However, he has a lot of other pace to deal with, including Maker’s Candy just to his outside, making this a tough assignment since he does look like one-way speed.
Maker’s Candy: He steps up from New York-bred company for the first time and tries two turns for the first time. He should be part of the early pace, which could get contested in a big field like this. He does have a pressing gear, which helps his case a bit, and his maiden race in particular came back fast. The distance is a question, though he is by Twirling Candy, an excellent synthetic influence.
Baby Billy: He steps up from a maiden win into this level. He has tried stakes once, finishing eighth in the Mucho Macho Man while still a maiden. However, it is a positive that Baby Billy’s maiden win came at 1 1/8 miles, the same distance as the Jeff Ruby. It also came on grass, and grass form can transfer to Tapeta sometimes. However, he does need a sharp step forward speed-wise to figure.
Bluebirds Over: He returned from a fairly long winter break to contest the Colonel Liam at Gulfstream, setting the pace before weakening to fifth. However, he was only beaten two lengths for all of it, a good sign, especially given his distance pedigree. The switch back to Tapeta is a positive, as he graduated on the surface at Gulfstream and won the Grey (G3) at Woodbine over it, and form on Tapeta tends to carry from track to track in a more reliable way than other synthetic surfaces.
Congruent: With nine starts, he has a lot of experience compared to most runners here, and he really turned a corner when he tried Tapeta for the first time in the Battaglia. He closed from last and won it by open lengths. With a lot of speed entered in this race as well, he could get a favorable trip once again. The biggest question is distance; the Tapit on top is a good sign, but she has more of a sprinter/miler pedigree on bottom.
Escapologist: After six starts, he broke his maiden last out, trying turf for the first time. The step forward on grass makes Tapeta interesting to try, though all of his races have come back comparably slow compared to what he needs to find to be a major competitor in this race. He will appreciate having some pace to chase after, as well, but may get outkicked by some other foes.
Two Phil’s: He has held his own on the Fair Grounds spur of the Kentucky Derby trail, hitting the board in both the Risen Star and the Lecomte while never looking a winner in either. This is a step down in class, which should help. Synthetic is a question, as he has only ever run on the dirt, but he is pace versatile, and trainer Larry Rivelli has a lot of history running horses successfully on synthetic surfaces, meaning he probably thinks Two Phil’s will handle it.
Wadsworth: He has come into his own in his last two starts, both over Tapeta. Though this is his stakes debut, he is going the right way from a speed perspective and he has also proven that he can win on the front or from off the pace, a good bag of tricks to have from such an outside post. He is also very well bred for this stretch out in distance.
Point Proven: He is proven at a mile and an eighth, as he graduated over the distance three starts back at Churchill. However, he has been beaten in two starts since in allowance company. He has also never tried the Tapeta before; all of his starts have been on dirt. However, trainer Todd Pletcher does have a good history of doing well at a price when switching horses to all-weather surfaces, meaning he may step up at long odds.
Jeff Ruby Steaks Past Winners Past Performances
Winners of the Jeff Ruby come from a wide range of places. Though nine of the last ten winners of the race came from stakes company — only Black Onyx (2013) came from an allowance win — those winners have come out of eight different stakes races.
The only repeat, unsurprisingly, is the Battaglia. Somelikeithotbrown (2019) won that local prep before winning the Jeff Ruby, while Like the King (2021) was second in that prep.
However, Gulfstream Park has been the best place to look for winners of this race. The aforementioned Black Onyx captured his allowance win there. Turf stakes at Gulfstream have been a live source of Jeff Ruby winners in recent years: Dubai Sky (2015) won the Kitten’s Joy, Field Pass won the Dania Beach (G3), and Fast And Accurate (2017) won the Sage of Monticello, a $35,000 starter stakes on the Gulfstream grass. Two other winners came from Gulfstream, as well, out of off-the-board finishes in Kentucky Derby points races on the dirt. We Miss Artie was eighth in the Fountain of Youth (G2), while Tiz the Bomb (2022) was seventh in the Holy Bull (G3).
Rounding out the last ten winners, Oscar Nominated (2016) won the Black Gold at Fair Grounds, while Blended Citizen (2018) was third in the El Camino Real (G3) at Golden Gate.
Jeff Ruby Steaks Undercard
The Jeff Ruby Steaks is the 12th of 13 races on Saturday’s blockbuster card at Turfway Park, a card that features six stakes races. In addition to the Jeff Ruby on the Kentucky Derby trail, the $300,000 Bourbonette Oaks is a 50-point race on the road to the Kentucky Oaks. Other stakes events include the $300,000 Kentucky Cup Classic for older routers, the $250,000 Latonia for older filly and mare routers, the $250,000 Rushaway for three-year-olds at 1 1/16 miles, and the $250,000 Animal Kingdom for sophomore sprinters.
With huge fields all day — 12 of the 13 races drew more than 10 runners — make sure to tune in all day on FanDuel TV and place your bets through FanDuel or TVG!
Turfway Park History
The track we know today as Turfway Park began its life as Latonia Race Course in 1959. It took that name from another track, also called Latonia, that had existed from 1883 until 1939, just ten miles away. When the race was sold to a new ownership group led by Jerry Carroll, the track’s name changed to its current one, Turfway Park.
The race now called the Jeff Ruby Steaks dates back to 1972 when the track was still called Latonia. General manager John Battaglia, now the namesake of the other Kentucky Derby points race at Turfway, created a race called the Spiral Stakes. It was intended as a prep where promising three-year-olds could then “spiral” up to the Blue Grass and then the Kentucky Derby.
Since that beginning, the race has been known by several names: the Spiral, the Jim Beam Stakes, the Galleryfurniture.com Stakes, and the Lane’s End Stakes. In 2018, it took its current cheeky name: the Jeff Ruby Steaks, named for its current sponsor, a midwestern steakhouse chain named after its flamboyant founder. Despite this litany of names, one thing has remained the same: this race is the centerpiece of the Turfway Park meet!
Jeff Ruby Steaks FAQ
Q: When is the Jeff Ruby Steaks?
A: The 2023 Jeff Ruby Steaks takes place Saturday, March 25 at 6:25 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time. The race is carded as the 12th of 13 on the card.
Q: Where is the Jeff Ruby Steaks?
A: It takes place at Turfway Park in Florence, Kentucky.
Q: Which trainer has the most wins in the Jeff Ruby Steaks?
A: Dating back to its time as the Spiral Stakes, William E. Adams has seven wins in the race. Amazingly, all of them came between 1977 and 1980, as he won both divisions of the race in 1977, 1978, and 1980. Trainer Mike Maker is vying to tie Adams’ record this year: he has won the race six times between 2006 and 2020. Maker sends out Maker’s Candy in this year’s edition.
Q: Who is the favorite for the 2023 Jeff Ruby Steaks?
A: Off a victory in the Kitten’s Joy at Gulfstream, Major Dude is the 5-2 morning line favorite for trainer Todd Pletcher.
Q: Who is the best Jeff Ruby Steaks jockey?
A: With five wins between 1984 and 1992, the now-retired Pat Day leads all jockeys. Among jockeys who are riding in this year’s edition, John Velazquez leads with two wins, with Went the Day Well (2012) and We Miss Artie (2014). Velazquez takes the call on Point Proven for Todd Pletcher this year.
Q: Who won the 2022 Jeff Ruby Steaks?
A: Tiz the Bomb won in 2022 for jockey Brian Hernandez, Jr. and trainer Ken McPeek. Though Hernandez does not ride the race this year, McPeek brings Escapologist, who will be ridden by Alex Achard.