After his victory in Turfway's Grade 3 Jeff Ruby Steaks, Two Phil's sat momentarily atop the 2023 Kentucky Derby leaderboard with 123 qualifying points.
Two Phil's had a three-wide trip in the Jeff Ruby and settled in sixth place during the first half-mile. Then, in a textbook ride, Jareth Loveberry and Two Phil's blew by them in the stretch and opened up to win by 5 1/4 lengths under a hand ride, getting 1 1/8 miles over the Tapeta course in 1:49.03. Two Phil's completed the final furlong in a sharp 12.34 seconds.
The well-traveled colt previously earned eight points for a second-place finish in the Lecomte (G3) at Fair Grounds and 10 points for a third-place finish in the Risen Star (G2) at Oaklawn. Last year, Two Phil's stormed home a 5 1/4 length winner over a muddy track in the Street Sense (G3) at Churchill.
Under Larry Rivelli's tutelage, Two Phil's (Hard Spun–Mia Torri, by General Quarters) has a 8: 4-1-1 record and has earned $683,450 for his co-owners Phillip Sagan and Patricia's Hope. Sagan also bred the colt.
Two Phil's is traveling on the Triple Crown trail in his sire Hard Spun's hoofprints. Hard Spun (Danzig – Turkish Tryst, by Turkoman) won the Lecomte Stakes (G3), then placed fourth at Oaklawn in the Southwest Stakes (G2) before capturing the Lane's End Stakes, which later was named the Jeff Ruby.
2007 was a good year for 3-year-olds. First, the 2-year-old champion Street Sense bested Hard Spun and Curlin in the Kentucky Derby. Then, Curlin returned the favor in the Preakness, beating Street Sense by a head with Hard Spun farther back in third.
The epic Belmont Stakes pitted Curlin against Rags to Riches, with the filly prevailing by a head. 2005 Kentucky Derby shocker Giacomo's little brother Tiago finished third, while Hard Spun tired to fourth.
After the Triple Crown, Hard Spun finished second to Any Given Saturday in the Haskell (G1), beating Curlin by a head. He continued on to capture the King's Bishop (G1) and beat Street Sense in the Kentucky Cup Classic (G2).
In his career finale, Hard Spun returned to finish second to his nemesis Curlin in the Breeders' Cup Classic over a sloppy Monmouth Park track.
Hard Spun retired with $2,673,470 and a 13: 7-3-1 record and promptly set about expanding the Danzig branch of the Northern Dancer sire line. Standing initially for $50,000, Hard Spun was the second-leading freshman and third-crop sire and led the 2012 second-crop sires by earnings.
Hard Spun's offspring mature into sound, capable runners; most are sprinters to middle-distance types. None of his stakes winners have won at 1 1/4 miles on dirt, but six have hit the board.
In non-stakes events at 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 miles, Hard Spun progeny are 4-for-14, with five in the money, so he can get a classic-oriented runner.
Two Phil's distaff line is speed-oriented, with few black-type earners.
He is the first foal out of the multiple stakes-winning sprinter Mia Torri (General Quarters – Flip the Stone, by Birdstone). The mare captured the six-furlong Sunshine Millions Distaff at Gulfstream and the seven-furlong Sugar Maple Stakes at Charles Town. She also placed in the Charles Town Oaks and Bed o' Roses Invitational at Belmont, both Grade 3 contests.
Mia Torri's half-sister Go Gator Girl is a stakes-placed sprinter, and Two Phil's third dam Flippy Diane (Aarons Concorde), is a stakes-winning sprinter.
Two Phil's has two half-brothers; an unnamed 2-year-old by Omaha Beach and a yearling by McKinzie.
Two Phil's damsire General Quarters (Sky Mesa - Ecology, by Unbridled's Song) won the Sam F. Davis (G3) and Blue Grass Stakes (G1) on his way to a tenth place finish in the 2009 Kentucky Derby, and he finished ninth in the Preakness.
The pretty gray horse found success on the lawn and captured the Woodford Reserve Turf Classic Stakes (G1) on the following year's Kentucky Derby undercard. Sky Mesa's son amassed $1,226,655 in a 27-race career, much of it graded stakes.
After a mediocre stud career in Kentucky, getting only five stakes winners from 103 foals, General Quarters was sold to Turkey. However, he's had pretty good success as a broodmare sire, getting eight winners, three in stakes, from 14 starters. His other two stakes winners are listed turf sprinters. Both are descended from the Storm Cat branch of Northern Dancer.
Kentucky Derby contender or pretender?
Like many Kentucky Derby preps, the Jeff Ruby Steaks has undergone name, distance and surface transitions over the years.
But since the inception of this race in 1972, three who raced in the Jeff Ruby have pulled off the Jeff Ruby/Kentucky Derby double. Last year, Rich Strike finished third in the Jeff Ruby and shocked in the Derby. Animal Kingdom (2011) and Lil E Tee (1992) also won both races.
Seven Jeff Ruby winners and runners-up have finished second or third in the Kentucky Derby.
Two Phil's has a solid middle-distance pedigree. These types can hit the board going longer but rarely win against top competitors.
At this stage, Two Phil’s has more starts and won two Grade 3 contests but isn’t as accomplished as his sire was. Hard Spun won five of six starts going into the Kentucky Derby, including the Lane’s End (at the time, a Grade 2).
Two Phil's is one of those hard-knocking horses that can hang around for a while. They might win the occasional Grade 1 under the right circumstances and usually can be counted on to hit the exotics.