ARAWAK LOOKING FOR HOME COURT ADVANTAGE IN THE JEFF RUBY STEAKS
March 16, 2018 (FLORENCE, Ky.) – The top three finishers in the John Battaglia Memorial Stakes—Magicalmeister, Sky Promise and Arawak—all return for Saturday’s Jeff Ruby Steaks (G3), and trainer Wesley Ward hopes Arawak benefits from running in his own backyard. The Uncle Mo colt has been stabled at Turfway since the season opened and won his first start here, a one-mile optional allowance Dec. 7. The 1 1/16-mile Battaglia followed Feb. 23, an off-the-pace effort in which he finished third, beaten less than three lengths.
“That’s why we had him here all winter, to get a home court advantage,” Ward said. “He won his allowance race right when they kicked off the meet and he ran a good race in the prep stake for this. He’s coming into the race perfect—everything we planned on doing since December. He’s going to bring his ‘A’ game to the race and hopefully that’s enough to get it done.”
Arawak won at first asking at Belmont last May, taking an early lead to win by seven lengths in a race taken off the turf. His next start came on the turf at Ascot, where he finished off the board in the Coventry Stakes (Gr. 2). He returned to the U.S. for his third start, the Best Pal (G2) at Del Mar, and has competed stateside since. He had his final work for the Jeff Ruby Monday, breezing five furlongs in 1:00.20.
Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners’ Entries Both 5-1 on the Morning Line
Hazit, co-owned by Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners and trained by Todd Pletcher, is 5-1 on the Jeff Ruby Steaks morning line. Eclipse’s other entry on the day, Consolida (GB), is also 5-1 in the day’s other Grade 3 race, the DRF Bets Bourbonette Oaks. Jockey Drayden Van Dyke will ride Consolida Saturday for the first time. Patrick Gallagher trains.
Consolida began her career in England, where she was fifth at Newmarket in her first start and followed with a mile allowance win at Newcastle in her second. She also won her third and most recent race, the California Oaks at Golden Gate Feb. 10, when she powered from last to score by a length and a half in her first U.S. start.
“She wasn’t fully cranked for the Cal Oaks, and obviously to get a win was even that much more encouraging,” said Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners president Aron Wellman. “She’s had five weeks since that race, breezed well twice, and it seems like she’s traveled well.”
“She’s really well drawn [post two for the Bourbonette]. With a good post position and Drayden and [being] sharp right now, I think she’ll be a little closer than she was in the Cal Oaks, when she came from the clouds. We expect her to be a little more dialed in. She definitely prefers to be gathered early and allowed to relax. This race doesn’t look like it has as much speed as the Cal Oaks, so because of that and the fact that she has a race under her belt here in the States, I think she’s just going to be a little more handy than she was that day. But no matter what, we want a patient ride and make sure she’s doing her best running at the end.”
Casse Takes Aim at Four of the Day’s Five Stakes; Maker and McPeek Look for Five
Assistant trainer Marcus Ford reported this morning that the Mark Casse contingent settled in well after shipping to Turfway, Ride a Comet and Colonel Samsen from Fair Grounds and Mo Flash and Alpine Sky from New York. Ride a Comet, Casse’s entry in the Jeff Ruby Steaks, and Colonel Samsen, a Kentucky Cup Classic contender, took their first turns around the Polytrack today after arriving yesterday. Mo Flash, entered in the DRF Bets Bourbonette Oaks (G3) and Alpine Sky, headed to the Latonia Stakes, arrived Wednesday.
Alpine Sky comes in to the Latonia Stakes off a nose win in her last outing, a sprint in the mud at Aqueduct. Saturday’s race will be the 22nd and final start for the 6-year-old Indian Charlie mare. "She ran real hard in her last race,” Casse said. “This will be it for her. After this race she's going to be a momma."
A morning-line long shot in the Classic, Colonel Samsen has a 1-1-2 record in eight starts over all-weather surfaces, including a nose loss two starts back at Woodbine, and Casse looks to keep him on his preferred surface. “With Woodbine closed right now there's no other synthetic,” Casse said. “He's had some decent efforts on synthetic. It was just an obvious spot to run him here and see what happens."
Colonel Samsen will face nine rivals in the Kentucky Cup Classic, a storied race revived after a six-year hiatus. Three hail from the barn of Mike Maker: Designed for War, returning from a one-year layoff after finishing a close second in the 2017 Pan American Stakes (G2) at Gulfstream; Camelot Kitten, a multiple graded stakes winner on the tough New York circuit; and Fast and Accurate, last year’s Jeff Ruby winner when it was run as the Spiral. The three Maker starters will break side-by-side-by-side from posts eight, nine and 10, respectively. Maker won the Kentucky Cup Classic, then Grade 2, in 2009 with Ken and Sarah Ramsey’s Furthest Land. The former claimer went on to win that year’s Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (G1).
In addition to his three in the Kentucky Cup Classic, Maker entered stakes winner Cash Call Kitten in the Jeff Ruby; stakes-placed Queen’s Fate and Go Noni Go and stakes winner Homemade Salsa in the Bourbonette; multiple stakes winner Susie Bee and allowance winner Valentine Rosie in the Latonia Stakes, the latter currently also-eligible; and Year of the Kitten in the Rushaway Stakes.
At 6-1, Year of the Kitten is co-second choice in the Rushaway with Kenny McPeek’s Oskar Blues. McPeek’s plan for Oskar Blues illustrates one reason Jeff Ruby Steaks day was moved back a week to mid-March. "We want to get a race in him before the Keeneland meet starts,” McPeek said. “He's doing really well right now. I think he'll handle the synthetic surface. He has a big, long stride. We ran third with him [Oct. 19 at Keeneland] to the horse that just won the Tampa Bay Derby [Quip], so we feel like he fits."
McPeek also has the morning line favorite in the Rushaway, 4-1 Honorable Treasure. In addition, he will saddle Classy Music in the Bourbonette; Purely a Dream, last year’s Bourbonette winner, in the Latonia Stakes; The Truth or Else and Senior Investment in the Kentucky Cup Classic; and Sky Promise in the Jeff Ruby.
Saturday’s card offers an all-stakes Pick 5 on the sixth race and an all-stakes Pick 4 on the seventh race. The first of 12 races on Saturday’s card is set for 1:10 p.m. ET.