How to bet the Jeff Ruby Steaks

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March 12th, 2020

What type of horse will emerge victorious?

What type of horse will emerge victorious in Saturday’s $250,000 Jeff Ruby Steaks (G3), a Road to the Kentucky Derby prep race at Turfway Park?

Held over 1 1/8 miles on Turfway’s synthetic Polytrack surface, the Jeff Ruby is typically won by horses with strong form on grass or synthetic tracks, though experienced dirt runners do land in the winner’s circle from time to time. The tricky part is determining which type of runner will hold the edge in any given year.

At least the 2020 edition of the Jeff Ruby offers seemingly clear standouts in each category:

Dirt specialist:

Easily the best of the established dirt stars is #8 Finnick the Fierce, who rallied to finish second over a sloppy track in the Kentucky Jockey Club (G2) last fall. The winner (Silver Prospector), third-place finisher (Tiz the Law), and fourth-place runner (Enforceable) have all come back to win Road to the Kentucky Derby prep races, indicating the overall strength of the race. Finnick the Fierce fired off a bullet half-mile in :46.60 on Feb. 27 at Turfway, suggesting he’ll handle the Polytrack just fine.


Turf specialist:

#12 Field Pass is a class standout after unleashing a big finishing kick to win the 1-mile Dania Beach S. at Gulfstream Park. A capable graded stakes performer as a juvenile, Field Pass is conditioned by Mike Maker, who has won three of the last four editions of the Jeff Ruby.


Synthetic specialist:

Undefeated in two starts over the Turfway Polytrack, #11 Invader crushed a maiden race by 12 3/4 lengths before returning to win the John Battaglia Memorial S. by 6 1/4 lengths. Trainer Wesley Ward and jockey Albin Jimenez have been on fire at Turfway, and in terms of Brisnet Speed ratings Invader is the fastest horse in the Jeff Ruby field.

For the purpose of exotic wagers, we’ll favor Field Pass and Invader in the top two slots of a trifecta, recognizing the trend of grass and synthetic runners excelling in recent editions of the Jeff Ruby. But we’ll spread deep otherwise, using not only Finnick the Fierce, but also #3 Fancy Liquor, #5 Myamanoi, and #6 Halo Again. The latter two are stakes-experienced runners, while Fancy Liquor—hailing from Maker’s barn—was a gate-to-wire debut winner over the Gulfstream turf course.

The Trifecta Bet:

$0.50 Trifecta: 11,12 with 3,5,6,8,11,12 with 3,5,6,8,11,12 ($20)
$0.50 Trifecta: 3,5,6,8,11,12 with 11,12 with 3,5,6,8,11,12 ($20)

Good luck!