Field Pass wore down Invader in the final strides to post a neck decision in Saturday’s $217,010 Jeff Ruby Steaks (G3) at Turfway Park. As part of the Road to the Kentucky Derby series, the Jeff Ruby awarded points on a 20-8-4-2 scale to the top four finishers, but Field Pass wasn’t nominated to the Triple Crown. Three Diamonds Farm can still make him eligible by the March 30 late nomination deadline.
Trained by Mike Maker and ridden by Irad Ortiz Jr., who combined to win three races Saturday, Field Pass gave Maker his sixth victory in the race. He completed the 1 1/8-mile distance on Polytrack in 1:49.34, scoring as the 7-2 second choice in the 11-horse field.
“I was worried right down to the wire,” Maker said.
Field Pass was exiting a win in the Feb. 1 Dania Beach on Gulfstream Park’s turf, his first start since October, and the gray colt broke his maiden on Saratoga’s turf last summer. With the $116,560 payday, the Maryland-bred son of Lemon Drop Kid has earned $291,210 from an 8-3-2-0 record.
“I try to bring some of my better turf horses for the Ruby,” Maker said. “It’s paid off over the years. He ran a great race off the bench in the Dania Beach in a very competitive field and I thought he would run very well here. He’s a good-sized horse. His conformation’s great. Great mind on him.”
Fancy Liquor sped forward at the break to set the pace, establishing fractions in :23.76 and :47.78. Invader, the 13-10 favorite following a convincing win in the Feb. 14 John Battaglia Memorial S. at Turfway, tracked the pacesetter in second, with Field Pass also up close stalking the action third.
Invader advanced to engage Fancy Liquor on the far turn, took a short lead into the stretch, and tried determinedly all the way to the wire, but Field Pass surged late to prove best.
“He broke sharp coming out of there,” Ortiz said. “He put me in a good spot in third, outside the favorite, and I tried to wait. I was close; I wasn’t too far back. When I asked him, it took some time to get going. It wasn’t easy to catch him (Invader), but he got the job done. They went a little slow. My horse wanted to go really bad and I didn’t want to struggle with him, so I let him go.”
Invader edged 6-1 Fancy Liquor by two lengths for second, with Halo Again winding up another 5 1/2 lengths back in fourth at 6-1. Victory Boulevard, The Stiff, Myamanoi, Dack Janiel’s, Austrian, Toma Todo and Unthrottled came next under the wire.
Bred by Mack Brown Grier, Field Pass commanded a $37,000 sales price at the 2018 Fasig-Tipton Maryland October sale. He’s the first stakes winner out of the Runaway Groom mare Only Me.