Recent trends in the Jeff Ruby Steaks

March 29th, 2022

The Jeff Ruby Steaks (G3), born a half-century ago as the Spiral, is Turfway Park's signature event and one of the more important races in the U.S. still contested on a synthetic surface. From that standpoint, it is sui generis among Kentucky Derby (G1) prep races. Here are several trends worth noting about the race since 2010.

Mike Maker factor

Trainer Mike Maker has had a diverse cast of stakes winners in his barn over the years, excelling on all surfaces. That includes Turfway's synthetic surface, which is now Tapeta after formerly being Polytrack.

A past leading trainer at Turfway, Maker has obviously taken a special interest in the track's premier event. He's won the Jeff Ruby five times since 2010, with Dean's Kitten (2010, $15), Oscar Nominated (2016, $49.20), Fast and Accurate (2017, $51), Somelikeithotbrown (2019, $3.20), and Field Pass (2020, $9.60).

No matter the price, his entrants are obviously worth a long look.

Gulfstream shippers dominate

Even before the installation of Gulfstream's Tapeta track last summer, the Gulfstream-to-Turfway pipeline has produced the vast majority of Jeff Ruby winners since 2010.

In addition to four of Maker's five aforementioned winners during the period, five other Jeff Ruby winners made their previous starts at Gulfstream: Animal Kingdom (2011), Went the Day Well (2012), Black Onyx (2013), We Miss Artie (2014), Dubai Sky (2015). There was no surface preference either, as some prepped on dirt as well as turf.

Favorites have fared poorly

Somelikeithotbrown, the aforementioned odds-on winner in 2019, is the only post-time favorite since 2010 to have won the Jeff Ruby. Indeed, the public choices have fared rather poorly overall, with only three others placing and eight finishing unplaced at the end of the 1 1/8-mile contest.