2022 Jeff Ruby Steaks at a Glance
The Jeff Ruby Steaks offers 170 qualifying points for the Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve like most prep races this time of year, but there’s a catch. The Jeff Ruby will be contested on an all-weather synthetic surface, so even if the winner and runner-up move on to race for the roses, there will be question marks over their ability to handle a dirt road.
Of course, let’s not forget that Animal Kingdom won this race in 2011 (when it was the Spiral Stakes) and the Kentucky Derby. Oh, and yes, it’s Steaks because the race is sponsored by the famous restaurant chain.
1. Royal Spirit (odds of 10-1 in the morning): He hasn’t raced on an all-weather track, but he is a graded turf racer and that often bodes well for a smooth transition to a synthetic surface. He has speed and rail and is coached by Todd Pletcher, making him a player to watch.
JOCKEY: Chris Landeros; COACH: Todd Plecher
2. stolen base (7-2): He finished second by a neckline in the John Battaglia Memorial Stakes, the local prep race for this race. That promising debut on synthetics and solid grass form paints him as a primary threat.
JOCKEY: Gerardo Corrales; COACH: Microphone manufacturer
3. Cabo Spirit (12-1): He made his debut on synthetics and won turf stakes at Santa Anita. This turf shape is interesting, but he will have to recover from losses by a combined margin of 35 ¼ lengths on the dirt in his last two races against top prospects in the West Coast Kentucky Derby.
JOCKEY: Joe Bravo; COACH: Georges Papaprodromou
4. Rich Strike (20-1): He rallied from 11e to finish fourth in the Battaglia. The extra distance will help, but he will need to step up his game a bit as his only victory came in a first claiming race.
JOCKEY: Sonny Leon; COACH: Eric Rose
5. Port Tawny (6-1): It’s an intriguing possibility. He won his first two starts at Turfway for two-time Eclipse Award-winning trainer Brad Cox, then tried the dirt in the Risen Star Stakes presented by Lamarque Ford and finished fifth while posting the best figure in speed of his career. This experience on this track could be useful and make him a threat in the last furlong.
JOCKEY: Manny Franco; COACH: Brad Cox
6. great escape (15-1): It’s been hard to read since making its debut on synthetics without the benefit of a grass race. He has ability, but there are too many unknowns to be excited about his chances.
JOCKEY: Adam Beschizza; COACH: Rodolphe Brisset
seven. Tiz the bomb (2-1): Second in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf, he made a smooth transition to synthetics, winning the John Battaglia Memorial. His late kick should be just as effective from this distance and he looks like the one to beat
JOCKEY: Brian J. Hernandez Jr.; COACH: Ken McPeek
8. red race (6-1): He is coming off a victory on grass to make his debut on a synthetic surface. He comes from the best connections and has a solid pedigree. It wouldn’t be shocking if he turned in a big effort.
JOCKEY: Joe Talamo; COACH: Steve Asmussen
9. Chief Dowagiac (8-1): Another turf stakes winner tries his luck on synthetics. He has a nice turn of gear and that could come in handy here from an outpost. If he can handle the change in surface, he will be a threat based on his recent efforts on the grass.
JOCKEY: James Graham; COACH: Tom Amos
ten. optigogo (30-1): He started his career on all-weather surfaces with one win and a third. He was sent across the country for turf stakes at Santa Anita in February and came up short finishing ninth. There’s not much to get excited about here.
JOCKEY: Raphael Bejarano; COACH: Eoin Harty
11. ConstitutionLawyer (50-1): No grass or synthetic experience and a 42-length loss in a stake and a quick first win on clay in his last two starts. Considering he hasn’t done better than third in his three starts besides the first win, it looks like a tough climb for him.
JOCKEY: Milestone Samuel; COACH: Raymond Handel
12. black viper (15-1): He is making his first start since leaving Bob Baffert’s stable and being sent to trainer Rodolphe Brisset. He is coming off a victory in the El Camino Real Derby on an all-weather surface at this distance. An encore of that performance will make him a major player here.
JOCKEY: Edwin Maldonado; COACH: Rodolphe Brisset
13. swing change (15-1): Made his first start on the synthetics after a third on the dirt in a Gulfstream Park allowance race, but he’s also on the eligible list and will need a scratch to run.
JOCKEY: Gerardo Corrales; COACH: Todd Plecher
THE CHOICE : Tiz the bomb
LIVE LONG SHOTS: Blackadder, royal spirit