Analyzing Top Contender for the Jeff Ruby Steaks

Horse Racing Radar
Rich Bieglmeier
Rich Bieglmeier is a Staff writer for Horse Racing Radar
Saturday, March 27, 2021

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 here.

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.