Spendthrift Farm’s multiple graded-stakes winning 3-year-old Major Dude headlines a talented field of 12 colts and geldings who were entered in Saturday’s 52nd running of the Grade 3, $700,000 Jeff Ruby Steaks at Turfway Park.
The Jeff Ruby Steaks is a Kentucky Derby points qualifier, offering 100-40-30-20-10 points to the top five finishers. The 12th of 13 races on the Saturday card, post time Saturday is 6:25 p.m. EDT.
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Two-time graded stakes winner Major Dude will invade Turfway Park from his South Florida base for Hall of Fame trainer Todd Pletcher. The son of Bolt d’Oro tabbed his first stakes victory on Oct. 2 in the Pilgrim (G2) at the Belmont at Aqueduct meet. After a disappointing ninth-place effort in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf, Major Dude made his 3-year-old debut in the Dania Beach at Gulfstream Park, where he rallied for second at even-money. In his last start, Major Dude contested the Kitten’s Joy (G3) and defeated seven rivals by 1 1/2 lengths under Irad Ortiz Jr.
Ortiz again will have the mount on Major Dude in the Jeff Ruby Steaks. He last rode at Turfway in 2020 when he won the Jeff Ruby Steaks aboard Field Pass. Ortiz and Major Dude will break from the rail as the morning-line favorite at odds of 2-1.
Another talented 3-year-old entered in the Jeff Ruby Steaks is two-time stakes winner Two Phil’s. Trained by Larry Rivelli, Two Phil’s seven-race campaign has solely been over dirt, and the Jeff Ruby will be his first test on Tapeta. The chestnut son of Hard Spun began his march to the Kentucky Derby after his dominant 5 1/4-length victory in the Street Sense (G3) at Churchill Downs. Following that effort, Two Phil’s was the runner-up to Instant Coffee in the Lecomte (G3) and third-place finisher to Angel of Empire and Sun Thunder in the $400,000 Risen Star (G2). Four weeks ago, Rivelli opted to ship to the colt from Fair Grounds to his base at Hawthorne to begin his preparation for the Jeff Ruby Steaks. Two Phil’s arrived at Turfway on March 13 and has been training daily over the Florence oval.
Jockey Jareth Loveberry, who has ridden Two Phil’s in his last six starts, will have the call in the Jeff Ruby Steaks from post 10 as the 7-2 second choice on Mike Battaglia’s morning-line odds.
Among the other top competitors in the Jeff Ruby is John Battaglia Memorial winner Congruent. Ridden by Kentucky Derby 148 winning jockey Sonny Leon, Congruent invaded Turfway from Gulfstream Park and scored an impressive 3 1/2-length victory in the John Battaglia Memorial. The gray son of Tapit will attempt to duplicate that same effort from three weeks ago from post 8 and Leon in the irons. Congruent was tabbed at odds of 5-1 on the morning line.
One of the top local contenders entered in the Jeff Ruby Steaks is Funtastic Again. Trained by 2021 Jeff Ruby Steaks winning conditioner Wesley Ward, Funtastic Again has not returned to the races since his stout 3 3/4-length win in the Leonatus Stakes on Jan. 21 at Turfway. Before the Leonatus, Funtastic Again dazzled in a first-level allowance contest by 5 1/2 lengths at Turfway.
Jockey Gerardo Corrales will ride the son of Funtastic from post 4 at odds of 6-1.