Two Phil’s and Botanical guaranteed their participation in the Kentucky Derby (G1) and Kentucky Oaks (G1) with convincing wins in the $694,000 Jeff Ruby Steaks (G3) and $299,200 Bourbonette Oaks at Turfway Park on Saturday. Both races served as qualifiers in the Road to the Kentucky Derby and Road to the Kentucky Oaks series, the Jeff Ruby awarding points on a 100-40-30-20-10 scale and the Bourbonette Oaks on a 50-20-15-10-5 basis to the top five finishers.
Winner of the Street Sense (G3) at Churchill Downs last fall, Two Phil’s entered the 1 1/8-mile Jeff Ruby off a pair of encouraging efforts at Fair Grounds to open his three-year-old season, finishing second in January’s Lecomte (G3) and third in the Risen Star (G2) on Feb. 18, and the Larry Rivelli-trained colt made a seamless transition to Turfway’s Tapeta track, rallying to a 5 1/4-length decision.
Two Phil’s was off as the 2.82-1 second choice in the 10-horse field and rated a few lengths off the pace in midpack with regular rider Jareth Loveberry before launching his move nearing the conclusion of the far turn. The chestnut son of Hard Spun powered clear into upper stretch and drew off stylishly through the final furlongs, stopping the teletimer in 1:49.03.
Major Dude, who was exiting a convincing turf win in the Kitten’s Joy (G3) at Gulfstream Park, advanced along the inside on the far turn and tried to catch the winner while turning for home, but the 1.76-1 favorite was no match for Two Phil’s. He wound 2 1/4 lengths better than pacesetter Funtastic Again in third, and next came Wadsworth, Maker’s Candy, Congruent, Baby Billy, Escapologist, Bluebirds Over, and Point Proven.
Campaigned by Patricia’s Hope LLC and Philip Sagan, Two Phil’s was bred in Kentucky by Sagan. He’s out the multiple stakes-winning General Quarters mare Mia Torri.
One race earlier on the program, Botanical made all the running in the 1 1/16-mile Bourbonette Oaks, breaking on top with regular rider Chris Landeros and leading clear throughout. Stablemate Flashy Gem tried to run down the 1.03-1 favorite in the stretch, but Botanical had plenty in reserve recording a 2 1/2-length decision. She finished in 1:44.47.
Brad Cox trains the daughter of Medaglia d’Oro for LNJ Foxwoods and Clearsky Farms. After dropping her first two starts on turf last fall, Botanical switched to Turfway’s synthetic track and broke her maiden by 10 lengths. She followed with an easy tally over allowance foes and was exiting a 6 1/2-length romp in the March 4 Cincinnati Trophy S.
Flashy Gem held second by seven lengths in her stakes debut. Thirty Thou Kevin, Miss New York, Ag Bullet, Always at Ease, Shewillghostu, Renegade Rebel, Bolivie, and Medaglia Forever completed the order.
Turfway offered four other stakes on the undercard.
In the $299,600 Kentucky Cup Classic, Wolfie’s Dynaghost easily proved best on the front end of the 1 1/8-mile event. The five-year-old tracked the pace in second until the backstretch, began to edge away on the far turn and drew off to a 2 1/4-length decision as the 2.54-1 favorite. John Velazquez was up for Jonathon Thomas on the gelded son of Ghostzapper, and Wolfie’s Dynaghost, a restricted stakes winner at Colonial Downs last summer, was exiting a victory over handicap foes on Gulfstream Park’s Tapeta track in late January. His career record now reads 19-7-2-4.
Idiomatic showed speed from the start of the $245,000 Latonia, tracking in second until taking a short advantage on the far turn. With Irad Ortiz Jr. up, the four-year-old filly turned back a bid from Kate’s Kingdom at the top of the stretch and drew clear to a two-length win as the 2.53-1 favorite. The Juddmonte Farms homebred daughter of Curlin was making her stakes debut for Brad Cox, improving her record to 6-4-0-2, and Idiomatic completed 1 1/16 miles in 1:44.50.
A fast pace took a toll on the frontrunners in the $249,710 Rushaway, leading to an upset finish in the 1 1/16-mile test for three-year-olds. Rarified Flair, overlooked at 29.89-1 in his seasonal opener, got the jump on fast-closing Ocean Pointe at 35-1, prevailing by a neck. Chris Landeros was up for Kenny McPeek on juvenile stakes-placed Rarified Flair, who was making his first appearance since an unplaced finish in a Keeneland turf allowance, and the Honor Code colt stopped the teletimer in 1:45.45.
In the $180,000 Animal Kingdom for three-year-olds, Eye Witness tracked the pace to the stretch and drew off convincingly in his first stakes attempt, scoring by five lengths as the odds-on favorite among five runners. The Ward-trained son of City of Light improved to two for three, breaking his maiden wire-to-wire at Turfway on New Year’s Day, and Kent Desormeaux was up on the New York-bred colt. Eye Witness completed six furlongs in 1:11.76.