Saturday’s $250,000 Jeff Ruby Steaks (G3) at Turfway Park has been added as a major Kentucky Derby qualifier, awarding a combined 170 points (100-40-20-10 scale), and the 1 1/8-mile Tapeta test highlights a 12-race program that includes the $150,000 Bourbonette Oaks for Kentucky Oaks hopefuls.
Jeff Ruby Steaks (G3) – Race 11 (6:25 p.m. ET)
John Battaglia Memorial S. winner Hush of a Storm and Holy Bull S. (G3) runner-up Tarantino are top draws in the 12-horse Jeff Ruby field.
Hush of a Storm has won three straight on the Tapeta for trainer Bill Morey, rallying to a 1 1/2-length decision in the Feb. 26 Battaglia Memorial most recently. Santiago Gonzalez retains the mount on the New York-bred Creative Cause colt.
Tarantino invades from South Florida following a fourth in the Feb. 27 Fountain of Youth S. (G2) at Gulfstream Park. A two-time turf winner last season, the Rodolphe Brisset-trained Pioneerof the Nile colt switched to the main track with a runner-up effort behind Greatest Honour in the Holy Bull in late January. Tarantion likes to race up close, and Florent Geroux will pick up the assignment.
Like the King, Gretzky the Great and Hard Rye Guy are also back from the Battaglia Memorial.
Like the King delivered a commendable effort finishing second in his stakes debut, and Drayden Van Dyke will take over the reins for Wesley Ward. Juvenile Grade 1 turf winner Gretzky the Great came up a little short after setting the pace last time, checking in third, and the Nyquist colt figures to switch tactics on Saturday. Hard Rye Guy is eligible to improve after winding up a troubled fourth in his first stakes attempt for Ian Wilkes.
A pair of two-time Kentucky Derby winners, Todd Pletcher and Doug O’Neill, will send runners to the Northern Kentucky track. Sainthood will try stakes foes following a game maiden win on the Risen Star S. (G2) undercard at Fair Grounds, and top local rider Gerardo Corrales will be at the helm for Pletcher. Hockey Dad ships in for O’Neill after recording maiden special weight and entry-level allowance wins on turf against California-bred rivals at Santa Anita, and Rafael Bejarano will guide.
Tampa Bay Derby (G2) third-placer Moonlight Strike figures to show speed with first-time blinkers. Dyn O Mite exits a nose second in the Feb. 27 Black Gold S. on turf. Multiple stakes-placed Awesome Gerry will try to rebounded after a couple of non-threatening performances, and a pair of stakes-placed contestants from the Dale Romans shedrow, King’s Ovation and Smiley Sobotka, round out the field.
Bourbonette Oaks – Race 10 (5:45 p.m. ET)
Wait for Nairobi will bring a two-race win streak to the Kentucky Oaks qualifier. Worth a combined 34 points (20-8-4-2 scale) toward the Run for the Lillies on April 30, the Bourbonette Oaks drew 10 fillies for the two-turn mile distance.
After breaking her maiden via disqualification in mid-January, Wait for Nairobi was overlooked at 15-1 in the Feb. 26 Cincinnati Trophy S. at Turfway. The Ray Hernandez trainee left no doubt about her superiority that evening, rallying to win going away by two lengths, and Edgar Morales will be back up on the chestnut Carpe Diem filly.
Stakes winner Oliviaofthedesert, who exits a fourth in the March 6 Honeybee S. (G3) at Oaklawn Park, will be joined in the starting gate by stablemate Roll Up Mo Money. The latter didn’t fire in the Suncoast S. last out, but posted a sharp allowance win at Turfway two starts back. Both are trained by Kenny McPeek.
Candace O has raced exclusively on turf for Graham Motion, and the Declaration of War filly merits respect following a decent fourth in the Sweetest Chant S. (G3) at Gulfstream Park. Into Vanishing may receive support in her stakes debut after posting a pair of convincing wins over maiden and entry-level allowance foes at Turfway for Jonathon Thomas.
California Lily, who scored by open lengths in wire-to-wire fashion at Turfway, will wheel back on a 15-day rest for Mark Casse. Brad Cox will send out Adventuring, who was last seen romping over off-the-turf maiden rivals at Fair Grounds.