March 7, 2019 (Florence, Ky.) – Curlin Grey started his career racing at a mile, quickly moved on to 1 1/16 miles and in the Jeff Ruby Steaks (G3) Saturday at Turfway Park he will have his chance to take the step trainer Kenny McPeek believes he wants.
“He’s begging for a mile and an eighth,” said McPeek, “so I think he’ll like the added distance. It should suit his running style. [Jockey] Brian Hernandez [Jr.] fits him well. He has a good come-from-behind style. I’ll leave it up to Brian to find him a good, clean trip.”
Owned by Paul Fireman’s Fern Circle Stables, Curlin Grey comes in to the Jeff Ruby Steaks off a come-from-behind third-place finish in a 1 1/16-mile allowance optional claiming race on the dirt Gulfstream Park Feb. 9.
Dynamic Racer was second in his most recent race, beaten 3 1/2 lengths in the John Battaglia Memorial Stakes after getting the best of an early duel and then leading into the stretch. Trainer Ron Kahles has a different plan for the Jeff Ruby Steaks when his colt breaks from the inside post.
“We’ll want to get a nice, clean break and get out into the three or four path so he can settle off the pace and then make one run at it,” said Kahles. “He gets pretty aggressive coming out of the gate. I think the biggest job Pede [jockey Euclyn Prentice Jr.] will have is getting him to relax. He’ll want to go to the front, but if he can relax that will really help us. He was a late foal, born in May, and he’s just now coming to himself.”
Dynamic Racer has two wins and two seconds in six starts and has had his best success on turf and Polytrack racing a mile or longer. “He’s done well on the turf and here [at Turfway], and that’s probably the direction we’ll go with him down the road,” Kahles said.
Kahles stables at Turfway, so Dynamic Racer will be competing on his home track for his owner, the Lou Dunn Diekemper Trust. His affinity for the surface showed in his most recent work, when he breezed five furlongs Saturday in a minute flat, the best of 41 at the distance that day.
With eight career starts to his credit, all in his 2-year-old season, Baytown Jimbo has the most experience of any horse in the Jeff Ruby field. He broke his maiden last fall in a turf sprint at Kentucky Downs and his next-best effort, a good second in a 1 1/16-mile allowance optional claiming test at Woodbine, came in November. He was sixth in Woodbine’s Display Stakes Dec. 8, his most recent start. The Jeff Ruby Stakes will be his sophomore debut, a decision that hinged on how well he took to the Turfway track.
“We were holding our options open,” said McEntee. “We wanted to get a work in over the Turfway Park surface and we did that on Saturday. We were pleased with the results. He came back fine, ate up well and we entered. There are some tough horses in the race. But Baytown Jimbo is fresh, he’s improved since last year and I think he deserves a chance to run in the Jeff Ruby Steaks.”
The work that convinced McEntee his Artie Schiller gelding is ready came on March 2, when he breezed four furlongs in :48.80, 14th-fastest of 51 at the distance that day. One work before, he fired a bullet four furlongs on the dirt at The Thoroughbred Center, best of 13 on Feb. 16.
Alexis Achard has the mount on Baytown Jimbo Saturday and breaks from post five.
First post Saturday is 1:10 p.m. ET. The stakes series begins with the sixth race at 3:33 p.m. Post time for the Jeff Ruby Steaks is 6:37 p.m.
Saturday’s card offers an all-stakes Pick 5 wager starting with the seventh race and two all-stakes Pick 4 wagers, one beginning with the sixth race and the second beginning with the eighth race.