The 2023 ‘Jeff Ruby Steaks’ Results: Two Phil’s Takes The Win, Major Dude Places, Funtastic Again Shows

In a seeming bump in the road to the Derby for trainer Todd Pletcher and his current Kentucky-bred hopeful, Major Dude, the lead favorite was bested by his lesser-tried rival Two Phil’s for the 2023 Jeff Ruby Steaks stakes race this afternoon at Turfway Park, and not by a little. Rather, Major Dude placed five lengths and then some behind a rapidly improving Two Phil’s. No worries however, for the winning Mr. Pletcher: The prep does offer some two hundred Kentucky Derby points, 100 of which go to the victor, virtually assuring Two Phil’s a berth in the big show in May, should his elated trainer Larry Rivelli and their connections decide to go for it.

But no worries for the winning Mr. Pletcher: A place by Major Dude earns a very respectable 50 points, and that sum, this year, seems also to beckon an invite to the Derby.

All’s well that ends well for the two favorites, then, except for this one small disturbing detail: Why was it that Major Dude, who went off as “the” favorite, placed honorably, but so far back at five and a quarter lengths? The “Ruby,” as the Daily Racing Form insists on calling it, isn’t an especially long or even very Derby-like prep race at a mile and a furlong. Just ten of the twelve booked horses ran. Major Dude did have the rail, but Major Dude had champion jock Irad Ortiz up, and if anybody knows how to handle a rail, it’s either one of the two Ortiz brothers. But as resolutely and abundantly talented as Irad Ortiz is, even an Ortiz can’t dissuade a three-year-old from not liking the way a break feels when you are trapped as far inside as you can possibly be and the crush comes down.

If as seems highly likely Major Dude does put in an appearance in the 2023 Kentucky Derby, this will be his question to answer.


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