Multiple graded turf winner Major Dude and Grade 3 victor Two Phil’s are top draws in Saturday’s $700,000 Jeff Ruby Steaks (G3), a major Road to the Kentucky Derby series qualifier awarding points on a 100-40-30-20-10 basis to the top five finishers. A full field of 12 is set for the 1 1/8-mile event on Turfway Park’s Tapeta track, and post time is scheduled for 6:25 p.m. ET.
Turfway and Fair Grounds, which features the Louisiana Derby (G2), will team up to offer a special 50-cent “Bayou Bluegrass 5” Pick 5. The all-stakes sequence will have a 15% takeout and a mandatory payout.
Major Dude exits a convincing win in the Feb. 4 Kitten’s Joy (G3) at Gulfstream Park, a 1 1/16-mile turf affair that has produced a pair of next-out stakes winners. By leading freshman sire Bolt d’Oro, the bay colt will retain the services of Irad Ortiz Jr., and Major Dude is one of two runners in the field for two-time Kentucky Derby winner Todd Pletcher, who will also send out Point Proven off a third in a March 2 allowance on Gulfstream’s main track. John Velazquez will take the mount on Point Proven.
A convincing winner of the Street Sense (G3) at Churchill Downs in his juvenile finale, Two Phil’s will switch to Tapeta for Larry Rivelli following a second in the Lecomte (G3) and a third in the Risen Star (G2) at Fair Grounds. The chestnut son of Hard Spun will be stalking the action with regular rider Jareth Loveberry.
Congruent was no factor finishing sixth to Major Dude in the Kitten’s Joy, but rebounded stylishly when closing last-to-first in the March 4 John Battaglia Memorial S. at Turfway Park, winning going away by a 3 1/2-length margin at 16-1 odds. The gray Tapit colt picked up 20 points toward a Kentucky Derby berth with the win, and Congruent can stamp his Derby ticket with a good showing Saturday. Sonny Leon will be up for Antonio Sano.
Funtastic Again merits respect for leading trainer Wesley Ward following a pair of romping wins at Turfway, including a 3 3/4-length score most recently in the Jan. 21 Leonatus S. that produced next-out Gotham (G3) winner Raise Cain. Gerardo Corrales will be back in the saddle, and Funtastic Again should be prominent from the break.
Other runners of interest include Battaglia Memorial runner-up Scoobie Quando; Grey (G3) winner Bluebirds Over; Wadsworth, who will jump to stakes competition for Brad Cox off sharp wins over maiden special weight and entry-level allowance competition at Turfway; New York-bred stakes performer Maker’s Candy, who switches to open company for Mike Maker; and Event Detail, an impressive Turfway maiden winner two back.