The Road to the Kentucky Derby & Oaks made a stop at Turfway Park once more. On Saturday we had the Jeff Ruby Steaks Stakes (G3), which awarded 100 qualifying points for the Kentucky Derby to the winner. Let us not overlook this prep-race, for it was won by champion ANIMAL KINGDOM back in 2011 when it was called the Spiral Stakes (G3), and it helped prepare for his victory in the Kentucky Derby that following May.
Then we had the $150K Bourbonette Oaks, which awarded 50 qualifying Kentucky Oaks points to its winner as well. There were a few more stakes races to complete the 12-race card, with Brad Cox having a big day with two stakes wins. Also, it was welcoming party for Drayden Van Dyke! He returned to Turfway in winning style, not only capturing the graded event of the evening, but possibly securing his mount for the Kentucky Derby. Therefore let us start with that very race!
The $250K Jeff Ruby Steaks Stakes (G3) was won by LIKE THE KING, ridden by Drayden Van Dyke, trained by Ward Wesley, owned by M Racing Group, LLC — in a clear cut score.
LIKE THE KING broke well from the inside for Drayden Van Dyke, and was positioned toward the back of the pack by the rail. They opened the quarter in 22.93 and a half in 46.81, led by pacesetting MOONLITE STRIKE. They raced strung out with LIKE THE KING traveling keen throughout the backside. With three furlongs to go, the field starts to quicken and LIKE THE KING makes his move circling five-wide. Things get bumpy between him, SAINTHOOD, and HARD RYE GUY as they make the turn, but it is LIKE THE KING who emerges with the lead. Drayden Van Dyke fully extends him and forges clear with a big enough advantage the secure the win. SAINTHOOD, after getting blocked severely, had to alter course and rallied for second. HOCKEY DAD ran third. The final time for the one mile and one-eighth was 1:50.22.
LIKE THE KING paid $16.00 to win, $7.60 to place, and $5.60 to show. He is by PALACE MALICE out of LIKE A QUEEN by CORINTHIAN. He improves his record to 3 wins, 2 seconds and 1 third, in 6 total starts. His earnings now exceed $200K and he earns 100 qualifying points for the Kentucky Derby, which places him in second on the Leaderboard.
The $150K Bourbonette Oaks was won by ADVENTURING, ridden by Florent Geroux, trained by Brad Cox, owned by Godolphin LLC.
ADVENTURING broke evenly and was positioned in midpack by Florent Geroux. They raced strung out into the backside, almost twelve lengths from front to back. They went 23.14 for the quarter, 46.61 for the half. SPRITZ, at 39-1, tried to give the field slip, kicking away upon the turn with a three length lead. But now ADVENTURING comes with her run and ranges up to challenge at the top of the stretch. She takes command in a few strides with no closers in sight. She appears to stall but then ultimately bounds clear of a stubborn SPRITZ. CANDACE O ran on to be third. The final time for the one mile was 1:37.31.
ADVENTURING paid $7.20 to win, $5.00 to place, and $3.60 to show. She is by PIONEER OF THE NILE out of QUESTING by HARD SPUN. She's now won two consecutive races, earning her highest speed figure to shoe. Her earnings exceed $130K and she'll receive 50 qualifying points for the Kentucky Oaks.
The $150K Kentucky Cup Classic was won by VISITANT, ridden by Deshawn Parker, trained by Morey William, owned by Williamson Racing LLC.
VISITANT from the nine-hole broke slightly right and was carried 4wide into the first turn, under Deshawn Park. He remained 4wide behind the leading flight as they traveled along the backside through opening splits of 24.66 and 49.59. It was a relatively slow pace going into the turn. VISITANT makes his move toward the leaders and sticks his nose in front by the top of hit the stretch. SET PIECE is now charging from the center of the course, with CRAFTY DADDY battling gamely along the rail. In the final strides, VISITANT proved to have the most run in him, as he edged clear late, keeping SET PIECE at bay for second. CRAFTY DADDY ran on to secure third. The final time for the one mile and one-eighth was 1:50.12.
VISITANT paid $18.80 to win, $6.40 to place, and $4.20 to show. He is by GHOSTZAPPER out of PEPPERMINT LOUNGE by DISTORTED Humor. VISITANT tied his best speed figure for this effort, improving to three wins from his last four starts. His earnings now push over $250K.
The $100K Latonia Stakes was won by DREAMALILDREAMOFU, ridden by Florent Geroux, trained by Brad Cox, owned by Full of Run Racing LLC.
DREAMALILDREAMOFU broke evenly but conceded the lead to 48-1 shot MAJESTIC BLEND, and raced two lengths behind her along rail. MAJESTIC BLEND opened the quarter in 23.82, the half in 47.00. Leaving the backside, DREAMALILDREAMOFU is patiently held while the two longshots duel each other in front of her. They turn for home, Florent Geroux now swings her to the outside into the clear, and she dashes for home, holding off the late outside-charge of COLOR ME PRETTY and ROGUE TOO for the win. It was COLOR ME PRETTY who grabbed second place, ROGUE TOO was third. The final time for the one mile on dirt was 1:36.95.
DREAMALILDREAMOFU paid $6.40 to win, $4.40 to place, and $3.80 to show. She is by COMMISSIONER out of DREAMED TO DREAM by DEPUTY WILD. She's won three of her last four races and pushed her earnings to $187,772.
The $100K Rushaway Stakes was won by CAVE HILL, ridden by Declan Cannon, trained by Brendan Walsh, owned by Godolphin. The gray colt broke clear but was positioned to race in the middle of the pack, entering the backside. They raced strung out and ran an opening quarter in a relatively slow 24.12, followed by a 48.31 half mile. With three furlongs to go, Declan Cannon says go on CAVE HILL, and they come charging for the lead, circling 4wide as the field storms down the stretch. It's still EXTRASEXYBIGDADDEE in front, plugging way to maintain his lead. But CAVE HILL lengthens his stride, despite lugging in from the center of the stretch. CAVE HILL does enough to drive past his foes for the win. EXTRASEXYBIGDADDEE ran second, EDITOR IN CHIEF was third. The final time for the one mile and one-sixteenth was 1:45.52.
CAVE HILL paid $8.60 to win, $5.20 to place, and $3.20 to show. He is by FROSTED out of PAINTED LADY by BROAD BRUSH. He's now won 3 times from 6 starts, pushing his earnings past $100K with this win. In just 6 starts, he's a winner on all three surfaces: turf, dirt, and synthetic.