Jeff Ruby Steaks (G3) - formerly the Spiral Stakes - at Turfway Park
The 47th running of the Jeff Ruby Steaks (G3), Turfway Park's Kentucky Derby points race that runs this Saturday, March 17, expects an overflow field. Entries will be drawn Wednesday, March 14. The Jeff Ruby Steaks offers 20 points to the winner, eight to the runner-up, four to the show horse and two to the horse finishing fourth.
The first year of Jeff Ruby Culinary Entertainment's sponsorship adds high shine to Turfway Park's annual Kentucky Derby prep race - formerly known as the Spiral Stakes.
||Cash Call Kitten
||Drayden Van Dyke
||Ride a Comet
Heading the list is Archaggelos, who won the Grey Stakes (G3) at Woodbine in impressively professional fashion in just his third career start. Racing about seven lengths off the leader down the backstretch, jockey Rafael Hernandez sent Archaggelos not to the outside to make his bid on the turn but to the inside, and the Temple City colt responded by boldly splitting horses when a narrow gap opened up entering the stretch. He was fourth in his next outing, the Display Stakes at Woodbine December 2. The Jeff Ruby Steaks would be the first start of his sophomore season.
Archaggelos shipped in to Turfway last Tuesday and put in his final breeze Saturday, clocking six furlongs in 1:13.40 over the Polytrack.
Magicalmeister broke his maiden at Mahoning Valley January 9, obliterating the field by almost 10 lengths in his career debut. He tried Turfway in his next outing, finishing a well beaten third, but rebounded with a half-length score in Turfway's John Battaglia Memorial Stakes (listed) Feb. 23, the local prep for the Jeff Ruby Steaks. On March 10, the Bodemeister colt put in a four-furlong breeze at Turfway in :49.80 for trainer James Chapman.
"He ran well in the Battaglia-came out of the race really good," said Chapman, "He worked great the other day, came back from that in fine fashion. That race was his second time routing, so he improved from the race before. With this race being further, he'll probably be laying a little bit closer to the pace, but he can be placed anywhere.
"If he were to win [the Jeff Ruby] lights out, we may consider [the Kentucky Derby]," Chapman continued. "He likes the dirt, but the Lexington or Pat Day Mile might be where we go. There's a lot of money after the Derby is run, so we may let those horses beat each other up a little. We'll do whatever is best for the horse."
Racing wide in the Battaglia, Magicalmeister dug in late to hold off the fast-closing Sky Promise, who also is expected for the Jeff Ruby for trainer Kenny McPeek.
"He ran real good last time out," said McPeek. "The added distance of this race will help. He's been begging for more ground. He seems to run best from the back of the pack. This is a good race for him right now, the timing is perfect. He's coming into it real well."
Trainer Mike Maker will try for his third straight win in Turfway Park's Kentucky Derby points race and his fifth overall when he sends out Ken and Sarah Ramsey's Cash Call Kitten in the Jeff Ruby Steaks. The homebred son of the Ramseys' sensational stallion Kitten's Joy is two-for-two on the Gulfstream Park turf, including a win last month in the Sage of Monticello Stakes.
"He's an improving colt and I'm looking forward to a mile-and-an-eighth with him," Maker said. "It took him a while to come around but he's putting it all together now."
Tyler Gaffalione, third at the current Gulfstream Park meet, will have the mount.
Maker and the Ramseys have won this race with Kitten's Joy progeny twice before: in 2016 with eventual multiple graded stakes winner Oscar Nominated and in 2010 with Dean's Kitten. The first of Maker's four wins in the race came in 2006 with With a City for Ron Peltz and he won last year's running with Fast and Accurate for Kendall Hansen.
While Maker has dominated the Turfway Park standings in recent years, trainer Jonathan Wong will be saddling his first Turfway runner when he sends out Mugaritz for VIP Farms in the Jeff Ruby Steaks. Trained by Simon Callaghan for his first two starts, both claiming events on dirt, Mugaritz moved to Wong's barn at Golden Gate for his third start and his first on an all-weather surface. After Mugaritz dominated that race by six lengths, Wong moved him up to stakes competition. He was second in the California Derby (listed) in his second start for Wong and fourth in his most recent effort, the El Camino Real Derby (listed).
"He's doing great right now," Wong said. "He might have made his move too soon in [the El Camino Real]. We've been working with him to rate in the mornings and he's catching on to that. With this race being on synthetic, it made sense to give it a try. After that, we'll see-maybe the Illinois Derby. He's not Triple Crown nominated."
Mugaritz worked last Saturday at Golden Gate, going four furlongs handily in 1:01.40, and will leave California Wednesday morning for the trip to Turfway.
To prepare for his expected start in the Jeff Ruby Steaks, Zanesville arrived at Turfway two weeks ago and has breezed twice over the surface, most recently this morning when he posted four furlongs in :47.60, best of 15 at the distance. The Tiznow colt is trained by Tom Amoss for Rosemont Farm. He has two wins in five starts, including a 7 1/2-length allowance score last out at Delta Downs. All of his starts have come over dirt.
"We shipped him early to get him accustomed to the track," said Amoss. "We're mostly concerned with the surface. This will be his first time on it and he's facing much tougher competition this time out. The work this morning was pleasing."
Zanesville will walk the shedrow Wednesday and return to the track Thursday and Friday. He'll also school in the gate Friday.
The Jeff Ruby Steaks is supported by four undercard stakes: the Bourbonette Oaks (G3) for 3-year-old fillies, a Kentucky Oaks points race; the Kentucky Cup Classic for older horses, the Latonia Stakes for older fillies and mares, and the Rushaway Stakes for 3-year-olds. The first of 12 races on Saturday's card is set for 1:10 p.m. The five stakes will run consecutively, starting with the Latonia Stakes at 3:33 p.m. and ending with the Jeff Ruby Steaks at 6 p.m.