2023 Jeff Ruby Steaks & Bourbonette Oaks Odds & Predictions

After a blank weekend on the Roads to the Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks we are quickly into the thick of it again, with the G3 2023 Jeff Ruby Steaks at Turfway Park on Saturday – featuring G3 winners Major Dude and Two Phil’s – offering 100 qualifying points and a direct route to Churchill Downs. The fillies have their turn in the ungraded Bourbonette Oaks, in which the Brad Cox pair Botanical and Flashy Gem already possess good form at the track.


Jeff Ruby Steaks

G3, $700,000, 1m 1f all-weather, 3yo, 6.25pm ET

With a Road to the Kentucky Derby points breakdown of 100-40-30-20-10, the Jeff Ruby Steaks at Turfway Park on Saturday assumes an importance in the build-up to the Kentucky Derby that it doesn’t really possess, given that it takes place on a synthetic track and the top trainers tend to send their top horses elsewhere. That’s not to say it can’t have an impact on the Derby, though – Lil E Tee and Animal Kingdom did the double, and Rich Strike was third here last year.

Todd Pletcher has the first two in the future book for the Derby and here relies upon Major Dude (5-2), who switches off the lawn after a thoroughly competent success in the G3 Kitten’s Joy over a mile-sixteenth at Gulfstream Park, keeping on well to win by a length and a half with Congruent (5-1) a no-show longshot sixth, beaten seven and a quarter lengths.

Major Dude won on the main track on debut and tries synthetics for the first time today, and has a favourite’s chance if taking to it – and the ‘if’ is important. His barnmate Point Proven (15-1) has been beaten in two allowance optional claimers this year and is hard to like.

Congruent, on the other hand, enjoyed the perfect tune-up for this when winning the ungraded John Battaglia here over a mile-sixteenth, looking good in the process as he came from the back before steaming three and a half lengths clear of Scoobie Quando (15-1), who also rallied late but had no chance with the winner. If it was the surface that moved Congruent up and he can do something similar he’ll be a big player, and he does have stakes-winning form on dirt.

This is class relief for Two Phil’s (7-2), easy winner of the mile-sixteenth G3 Street Sense at Churchill Downs in October, runner-up to Instant Coffee in the G3 Lecomte, and then third in the mile-eighth G2 Risen Star, both races at the Fair Grounds. He comes off the main track for the first time and if the surface suits him he’ll be in the mix.

The pace may come from Funtastic Again (6-1), who went gate-to-wire for an easy score in a mile stakes here in January. If he can stretch that speed over another furlong he might prove hard to catch, and he certainly wasn’t stopping at the wire on that occasion.

Anything Brad Cox runs in a Derby prep is worthy of investigation, and Wadsworth (8-1) is two-for-two on the all-weather strip here, most recently beating Scoobie Quando by two and a half lengths over a mile, form that ties in with Congruent but gives him something to find with that colt.

Mike Maker has won this race four times in the last seven years and sends Maker’s Candy (12-1), who had his number taken down for interference after winning a mile stakes at Aqueduct a month ago. He tries synthetics for the first time and his trainer’s record entitles him to respect.

2023 Jeff Ruby Steaks Odds & Betting Pick

HorseJockeyOdds by JazzSports
Major DudeIrad Ortiz, Jr.+250
Scoobie QuandoLuan Machado+1500
Event DetailWalter A. Rodriguez+1500
Funtastic AgainGerardo Corrales+600
Maker’s CandyUmberto Rispoli+1200
Baby BillyJoseph Talamo+3000
Bluebirds OverEdgard J. Zayas+1500
CongruentSonny Leon+500
EscapologistAlex Achard+3000
Two Phil’sJareth Loveberry+350
WadsworthChris Landeros+800
Point ProvenJohn R. Velazquez+1500

A very open race, but CONGRUENT made a big step forward on his first experience of this synthetic strip and he looks ready to build on that with pace to run into.

Bourbonette Oaks

Ungraded, $300,000, 1m 1/16 all-weather, 3yo fillies, 5.43pm ET

The Bourbonette Oaks offers 50 Road to the Kentucky Oaks points to the winner, probably enough to secure a place in the gate at Churchill Downs, and it comes as no surprise that the powerful barn of Brad Cox is front and centre with two leading contenders.

Both have proved more than capable on the Turfway synthetic strip, with Botanical (2-1) particularly adept and boasting a three-for-three record, all over a mile. She has climbed the ladder from maiden to allowance optional claimer to a stakes score on her most recent start, romping by six and a half lengths and probably value for even more.

That’s stand-out form here, but her barnmate Flashy Gem (4-1) isn’t so far behind judging on her victory here last month when she blew an AOC to bits, gate-to-wire over a mile to win eased down by six lengths. It wasn’t much of a race but it was a very promising performance and there’ll be more to come.

The main market rival to this pair is Ag Bullet (7-2), who makes her first trip away from California after rounding off her juvenile campaign with a narrow victory in a mile stakes on turf, hanging on to her lead and getting home by a neck. She has only won on the lawn and it remains to be seen how she handles the surface switch.

Renegade Rebel (6-1) has done all her winning on the all-weather surface at Woodbine, which is at once a positive and a negative, because the form rarely translates below the border. However, she did make all when clinging on to win the mile-sixteenth G3 Mazarine by a neck and could be influential on the front end.

The ex-French Bolivie (5-1) is worth a long look, as on her final start before heading Stateside she chased home Brave Emperor in a mile stakes on the all-weather at Cagnes-sur-Mer, and the winner subsequently won a leg of the European RTKD and is potentially a candidate for the Derby itself. Bolivie has never won over further than six furlongs but won’t be fazed by the task today.

Former Brit Miss New York (15-1) won a seven-furlong AOC at Tampa Bay Downs last time and broke her maiden at today’s distance on the synthetic surface at Gulfstream Park, as Olympic Prank (20-1) did – although her win was gained at a mile and 70 yards, the same course and distance over which Thirty Thou Kelvin (20-1) won an AOC by a nose last month. All three face a rise in class that may be insurmountable at this time.

Bourbonette Oaks Odds & Betting Prediction

HorseJockeyOdds by Jazzsports
Renegade RebelRafael Manuel Hernandez+600
Bolivie (IRE)Irad Ortiz, Jr.+500
Olympic PrankEdgard J. Zayas+2000
Thirty Thou KelvinKazushi Kimura+2000
BotanicalChris Landeros+200
Always At EaseKent J. Desormeaux+3000
Miss New YorkJose E. Morelos+1500
Flashy GemJohn R. Velazquez+400
ShewillghostuSonny Leon+3000
Medaglia ForeverFernando De La Cruz+3000
Ag BulletUmberto Rispoli+350

Botanical stands out on form, but the ex-French BOLIVIE has run very well in stakes against males ‘over there’ and could be underestimated on her Stateside debut.

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