The newly-named Jeff Ruby Steaks at Turfway Park, set to run on March 17, has closed with 158 nominations. The race, formerly the Spiral Stakes, is in its 47th rendition.
“For horses that have steadily accumulated points toward the Derby as they’ve continued to improve and mature, the Jeff Ruby Steaks is perfectly timed,” said General Manager Chip Bach. “A win here could advance them toward the points races at Keeneland, which reflects this race’s original intent—that horses would advance from here to Keeneland to the first Saturday in May at Churchill Downs.”
The Jeff Ruby Steaks offers 20 points to the winner, eight to the runner-up, four to the show horse and two to the horse finishing fourth. Nominees that could add to existing Derby totals include Firenze Fire, one of three nominated by trainer Jason Servis. Firenze Fire has collected 24 points toward the Kentucky Derby. Another is Instilled Regard, one of six nominated by Jerry Hollendorfer. Instilled Regard has a total of 19 Derby points. Catholic Boy, trained by Jonathan Thomas, has 14 points. Steve Asmussen’s trainee Combatant has earned 12 points with runner-up finishes in three races.
Flameaway, trained by Mark Casse, and Paved, a filly trained by Michael McCarthy, have 10 points each. The former is expected to be late-nominated to the Kentucky Derby.
Magicalmeister, Sky Promise and Arawak, the top three finishers in Turfway’s John Battaglia Memorial Stakes, also are nominated. The Battaglia Memorial, the local prep for the Jeff Ruby Steaks, does not award Kentucky Derby points.
Trainer Todd Pletcher leads all nominators with 13, including stakes winners Bal Harbour, Prince Lucky and Salmanazar, graded stakes-placed Gidu (IRE) and Maraud and stakes-placed Pony Up. Pletcher has won Turfway’s Kentucky Derby prep race three times, with Balto Star in 2001, Flower Alley in 2005 and We Miss Artie in 2014.
The next-highest number of nominees from one trainer is 11 from Mike Maker, seven of which, including stakes winner Cash Call Kitten, are owned by Ken and Sarah Ramsey. Together the Ramseys and Maker have won Turfway’s prep race twice, in 2010 with Dean’s Kitten and in 2016 with Oscar Nominated. Maker repeated in 2017 with Fast and Accurate for Kendall Hansen and also won in 2006 with With a City for Ron Peltz, the trainer’s first graded stakes win.
The Jeff Ruby Steaks is supported by the Grade 3 Bourbonette Oaks as well as three black type races: the revived Kentucky Cup Classic, the Rushaway Stakes and the Latonia Stakes, formerly the Wintergreen. Nominations for the undercard stakes close Wednesday, March 7.
First post March 17 is 1:10 p.m. ET. The Jeff Ruby Steaks will be the 10th of 12 races, with a 6 p.m. post. Entries will be drawn Wednesday, March 14.
Edited Turfway Park release