With half the field each given at least a 9 percent chance of winning, the Grade 3 Jeff Ruby Steaks on Saturday at Turfway Park is the most competitive 2023 Kentucky Derby prep race to date.
That competitiveness is concentrated in the top half of the field. If my top six choices were a single entry, fair odds on them would be 1-5. They're not, though, which means we need to find out where the value is individually.
I think it's most likely to be No. 8 Congruent, who I have at 5-1, which is also the morning line. But I think he'll higher than that, as the morning line adds up to 136.7 points (my fair odds line is 100 points). And if No. 1 Major Dude really is 5-2 in a 12-horse field, then there's no way Congruent will be as low as 5-1.
No. 3 Event Detail, No. 4 Funtastic Again, No. 10 Two Phil's and No. 11 Wadsworth join the aforementioned pair as that top half of the field. I like Congruent best (at expected price) because there again will be pace for him to chase as there was when he won the John Battaglia Memorial in his synthetic debut.
Major Dude is making his synthetic debut as well as stretching out to 1 1/8 miles. I question those variables enough that taking as the favorite does not seem well advised, especially with Irad Ortiz Jr. up for Todd Pletcher. This horse is going to be an underlay.
From a wagering perspective beyond the win pool, I feel as though Major Dude is one of those who if you're willing to fade him on top then why not from the whole boat? I think he and Two Phil's will be on a lot more tickets than not. That makes me think there will be value in the other four horses in the exacta, so I'll be watching that pool closely as well.