Most of the attention today is on the Florida Derby. It's
not surprising considering one of the 2021 Kentucky Derby favorites, GREATEST
HONOUR is the headliner and uber trainer Bob Baffert is breaking his norms and
shipping SPIELBERG to south Florida from southern California, which is as rare
as a yellow cardinal (they exist).
But there is another race this Saturday, not too far from
Churchill Downs that has Kentucky Derby implications, the Jeff Ruby Steaks at
Turfway Park. Just like the Florida Derby, the Steaks winner gets 100 Derby
points, which means he'll be running on the first Saturday of May.
Let's look at the Jeff Ruby Steaks to see who will line up
next to the Florida Derby winner on May 1st.
A field of 12 will run 1 1/8 miles on Turfway's synthetic
surface, which can be tricky. Many horses struggle when switching from dirt to
synthetic. Jockeys David Cabrera and Kyle Frey both told The Players' Edge
Podcast that grass to all-weather is a better angle. As such, horseplayers
might be wise to focus on the contenders with synthetic experience.
HUSH OF A STORM (PP: 2 ML 4-1) is at the top of the list.
He's run on Turfway's main track three times after debuting at Churchill Downs.
He won all three of them, including tying for the highest, last race speed
figure. He generated that 97 Equibase speed figure winning the John Battaglia
Memorial Stakes in his first start following a short rest.
HUSH OF A STORM came off the pace at 1 1/6 miles to defeat
other Ruby entrants LIKE THE KING (PP: 1 ML 6-1), HARD RYE GUY (PP: 9 ML 10-1)
and GRETZKY THE GREAT (PP: 10 ML 5-1). Today's race is at 1 1/8 miles, so the
extra distance should work in HUSH OF A STORM's favor.
Race starts at 7:13 mark
GRETZKY THE GREAT was the even-money favorite in the Battaglia
Memorial. He sprinted to the lead and held it though the first three-quarters
of a mile before fading to third by 1 ¾ lengths. Trainer Mark Casse should have
his horse close to the front again and bounces back at 24% the next time around
the track with beaten favs. This will be GRETZKY THE GREAT's third go on
all-weather with a win at Woodbine and the Battaglia third.
LIKE THE KING spilt HUSH OF A STORM and GRETZKY THE GREAT in
their last, finishing second for trainer Wesley Ward, who dominates Turfway's
main track, hitting at an astounding 33%. That's off the charts. He should rate
behind the frontrunners and try to pounce late, but he faded at the end of the
1 1/16 miles in his last. He'll need more stamina to make it the extra distance
HARD RYE GUY is the only other with synthetic experience.
Unlike LIKE THE KING and GRETZKY THE GREAT he should benefit from the added
length as he was charging hard in the final strides of the Battaglia Memorial
and might have collected place money with another 1/16 mile.
As we mentioned at the top, turf to all weather is the
better fit according to gentlemen who should know. TARANTINO (PP: 7 ML 3-1) is
one of the oddsmakers' favorites. He's struggled on Gulfstream dirt and is
probably why he is here and not in the Florida Derby. However, he is a nose away
from being undefeated on grass. He should ride shotgun and if the turf to
synthetic angle holds, will factor in the end.
DYN O MITE (PP: 11 ML 15-1) might be a shot to consider
adding to your tickets. He's run on grass four time and has hit the board in each
of them with a win, two seconds and a third. He gets out of the gates in a
hurry on turf and will add to what looks like could be a hot pace. He barely
missed at a 1 1/16 last time and could be in peak form in the third start
following a layoff.
Based on pace scenario, a lot of early speed and synthetic
success, the Jeff Ruby Steaks appears to set up well for HUSH OF A STORM to
keep his Turfway record perfect and Run for the Roses in five weeks.