Jeff Ruby Steaks (G3) – Race 12 (6:23 p.m. ET)
Separated by a neck in the John Battaglia Memorial S. on March 5, Tiz the Bomb and Stolen Base highlight an overflow field of 13 in Saturday’s $600,000 Jeff Ruby S. (G3) at Turfway Park. The 1 1/8-mile race on Tapeta will award the top four finishers points on a 100-40-20-10 scale for the Kentucky Derby as a major qualifier.
Tiz the Bomb rallied to take the lead in upper stretch of the Battaglia and gamely held the late charge of Stolen Base in his first Turfway appearance. A Grade 2 winner on turf and runner-up in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G1) last season, the Kenny McPeek-trained son of Hit It a Bomb will retain the services of Brian Hernandez Jr.
Stolen Base finished second to Tiz the Bomb in the grassy Bourbon S. (G2) at Keeneland last October and switched to Tapeta for the Battaglia following a third in the Texas Turf Mile S. at Sam Houston in late January. Mike Maker conditions the Bodemeister colt, and leading rider Gerardo Corrales will be back up.
Only 12 will be allowed to start, and Tiz the Bomb and Stolen Base will face some dangerous new faces.
El Camino Real Derby winner Blackadder, who was formerly based in Southern California with Bob Baffert, will make his first attempt for new trainer Rodolphe Brisset. The son of Quality Road has won two straight, and Edwin Maldonado, who picked up the mount for the El Camino Real Derby on Golden Gate Fields’ Tapeta, will be in to ride.
Dowagiac Chief invades from Fair Grounds off a five-length romp in the march 5 Black Gold S. on turf. The Cairo Prince will make his first attempt on a synthetic track for Tom Amoss, and Fair Grounds leading rider James Graham will guide. Tawny Port, who won his first two starts at Turfway over the winter, will return following a fifth against a strong field in the Risen Star (G2). Manny Franco will be up for Brad Cox.
Robert B. Lewis (G3) runner-up Cabo Spirit and Kitten’s Joy (G3) second Royal Spirit add further depth to the field.
Bourbonette Oaks (G3) – Race 11 (5:43 p.m. ET)
One race before the Jeff Ruby, 12 fillies will compete for 85 Kentucky Oaks qualifying points (50-20-10-5) in the $250,000 Bourbonette Oaks, and the 1 1/16-mile race represents the first start of the year for Sandstone.
A nine-length maiden winner in her second start at Churchill Downs last October, Sandstone romped by 10 lengths when making her stakes debut in the Rags to Riches four weeks later. However, the daughter of Street Sense lacked the same finishing kick when making her seasonal finale in the Golden Rod (G2), checking third as the odds-on favorite, and Sandstone will return from 126-day layoff for McPeek. Hernandez has the call.
Vergara, who was last seen winning the Tepin S. on Aqueduct’s turf in late November, will also come back from a lengthy layoff. Victor Carrasco takes the reins for Graham Motion. Untapable S. winner North Country, last seen finishing seventh in the Rachel Alexandra (G2) at Fair Grounds, also merits respect for Brendan Walsh.
Other runners include Champagne Poetry, who exits a nose second in the Feb. 6 Ruthless S. at Aqueduct; Cincinnati Trophy S. third Tap Dancing Lady; Florida Oaks (G3) fourth Mrs. Barbara; and last-out Turfway allowance scorer Let’s Be Clear.