Turfway Park: The $200,000 Jeff Ruby Steaks at 1 1/8 miles (20-8-4-2)
by Brian Nadeau
While the Polytrack Era has died down in a big way, and the synthetic/turf specialists here probably won’t have a direct impact on this year’s Kentucky Derby, there is an outside chance the winner will qualify with the 20 points he earns here, so the newly-coined Jeff Ruby hasn’t completely lost its luster from the glory years of the Jim Beam and even the Spiral. The dirt experiment didn’t work out for #4 PONY UP last time in Gulfstream Park’s GII Holy Bull, but this son of Aikenite showed good turf form in Florida for Pletcher and that can translate to the Poly, so in a wide open race that’s there for the taking, here’s hoping he’s the one to move up and post the mild surprise. The December layoff is a bit of a concern, but Dickinson has done far more improbably feats (think Da Hoss), so #3 ARCHAGGELOS must be respected, especially since he aired on the Tapeta in the GIII Grey last year at Woodbine, and this son of Temple City absolutely flew 6Fs in a local drill 3/10 to suggest he may love the strip. The wide draw won’t help #11 RIDE A COMET, but there is a long run to the first turn, and this son of Candy Ride (ARG) is tactical enough to work out a trip, and while he’s never run on a synthetic surface, he looked good winning an optional-claimer on the turf at Fair Grounds, which likely prompted Casse to look here. The best of the locals is clearly #5 MAGICALMEISTER, who won the local prep, the John Battaglia, and it looks like Chapman has a logical contender in this son of Bodemeister, though the waters clearly get deeper today.
#4 Pony Up
#1 Ride a Comet