This Saturday marks the 50th renewal of the Jeff Ruby Steaks at Turfway Park in northern Kentucky. It’s a nine-furlong contest for three-year-olds with Kentucky Derby aspirations.
The race is one of the last qualifiers to Run for the Roses and carries a hefty total of 170 points: 100 points going to the winner and 40 points to the runner-up, while the third and fourth place finishers will collect 20 and 10 points, respectively.
The Jeff Ruby Steaks, which will go as Race 12 with a post time of 6:23 p.m. EDT, has changed names an eye-popping six times since its inception in 1972.
History of the Jeff Ruby Steaks
Run for the first time on April 1, 1972, as The Spiral Stakes, a name instituted by then General Manager (of the formerly named Latonia Race Track) John Battaglia for horses “spiraling up” to the Kentucky Derby. Over the years, it has gone by The Jim Beam Spiral Stakes and The Lane’s End Stakes before the brilliant marketing ploy put into play by the Jeff Ruby Steakhouse, adding their niche by changing the word “Stakes” to “Steaks.”
Past winners include two Kentucky Derby winners in Lil E. Tee (1992) and Animal Kingdom (2011), as well as three Preakness winners in Summer Squall (1990), Hansel (1991) and the ill-fated Prairie Bayou (1993). Hansel went on to win the Belmont Stakes and remains the only Belmont winner. The race was also won one time by a filly, the great Serena’s Song, in 1995.
Jeff Ruby Steaks field and odds
|Post Position||Morning Line Odds||Horse||Jockey||Trainer|
|1||10-1||Royal Spirit||Chris Landeros||Todd Pletcher|
|2||20-1||Stolen Base||Gerardo Corrales||Michael Maker|
|3||12-1||Cabo Spirit||Joe Bravo||George Papaprodromou|
|4||7-2||Rich Strike||Sunny Leon||Eric Reed|
|5||3-1||Tawny Port||Manuel Franco||Brad Cox|
|6||8-1||Great Escape||Adam Beschizza||Rodolphe Brisset|
|7||2-1||Tiz the Bomb||Brian Hernandez Jr.||Kenneth McPeek|
|8||15-1||Red Run||Joseph Talamo||Steve Asmussen|
|9||15-1||Dowagiac Chief||James Graham||Thomas Amoss|
|10||20-1||Optigogo||Rafael Bejarano||Eoin Harty|
|11||20-1||Constitutionlawyer||Jalon Samuel||Raymond Handal|
|scr||20-1||Blackadder||Edwin Maldonado||Rodolphe Brisset|
|13||5-1||Swing Shift||Kimura Kazushi||Todd Pletcher|
Tiz the Bomb is a handsome, stretch-running son of Hit It a Bomb who showed little in his 2022 debut. That was over a speed-favoring surface and his first start in 90 days. However, this colt, who has an efficient stride/motion and was a hard-charging second in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf last year, was impressive, launching a five-wide move on the turn to win the John Battaglia in his synthetics debut last time out. Regular rider Brian Hernandez climbs back aboard, and his strong half-mile work last week (:47.1) signals readiness.
Blackadder is a $620,000 son of top sire Quality Road who looked good breaking his maiden two back and again taking down the El Camino Real Derby in his synthetics debut last time out. He is one of several to leave the Bob Baffert barn recently, but his work patterns suggest he is sitting on another considerable effort.
Stolen Base is just one for seven in his career but possesses a strong closing run and finished just inches behind Tiz the Bomb twice in the last several months, including the John Battaglia his last time out.
Also, consider Rich Strike, who quietly made up ground behind Tiz the Bomb and Stolen Base at a mile and 1/16th in the John Battaglia last time out. Logically, the extra half furlong could help his chances in this spot — Royal Spirit is a $450,000 son of Into Mischief, who he has run well in all five career (turf) starts. He tries the synthetics here for the first time, but it could be a menace. Tawny Port was overmatched — but not embarrassed — by pro-tem Kentucky Derby favorite Epicenter last time out. The son of PioneeroftheNile now returns to a more realistic spot on a track where he is unbeaten.