News and STORIES

Surprise Finishes in Two Big Kentucky Derby Prep Races

Author: Ryan Knuppel
Published: Sunday March 28, 2021
The $250,000 Jeff Ruby Steaks at Turfway Park in Florence, Ky., on Saturday afforded an opportunity for a horse not yet qualified for the Kentucky Derby to emerge from the 11-horse field with an invitation to Churchill Downs on May 1. Like the King at 7/1 odds seized the opportunity and emerged victorious, picking up 100 qualifying points despite a lengthy review of an objection lodged by second-place finisher Sainthood’s connections.

Farther south in the $750,000 Florida Derby at Gulfstream Park, Greatest Honour, comfortably in the Kentucky Derby, was looking to solidify a position as one of the favorites for the Triple Crown races. The 4/5 favorite worked his way through the pack but only managed to finish third in the prep race that offered 100-40-20-10 points on the Road to the Kentucky Derby.

Instead, Known Agenda at 5/1 made a late charge down the stretch, holding off Soup and Sandwich to win going away by 2¾ lengths. Known Agenda’s 102 total points locked up a Kentucky Derby invitation, while Soup and Sandwich’s 40 second-place points will likely be enough but probably won’t be official until after the Arkansas Derby on April 10.

Jeff Ruby Steaks Recap

In the Jeff Ruby, morning-line favorite Hush a Storm was a late scratch, seemingly opening the door for Tarantino at 5/2, Gretzky the Great at 3/1 and Hard Rye Guy at 11/2 to contend for the win. It didn’t work out that way, as Tarantino came out of the blocks poorly and never made it out of last place.

Gretzky the Great was in the mix for most of the race, grabbing the lead briefly at the head of the stretch, but faded badly to finish in fifth place, four lengths out of the last qualifying point position. The only one of the favorites to manage any success was Hard Rye Guy, who made a challenge but never got inside the top three, eventually fading down the stretch to come in fourth behind Hockey Dad.

Like the King, in addition to the 100 qualifying points, won $142,500 for trainer Wesley Ward and the M Racing Group, paying $16.00, $7.60 and $5.60. 

Second-place Sainthood is in the same position as Soup and Sandwich after picking up 40 qualifying points. He earned $47,500 and, at 11/1, paid $9.40 and $6.60 as the runner-up.

Third-place finisher Hockey Dad’s 20 points probably won’t get him to the Kentucky Derby, but he received $19,000 and paid $6.20. Hard Rye Guy’s 10 points are inconsequential, but he did end up with a payday of $11,875.

Florida Derby Payouts

While Greatest Honour slowly worked his way to the front in the Florida Derby, it didn’t appear that jockey Jose Ortiz ever really urged the Claude McGaughey colt to exert himself. It allowed Known Agenda to surge past Soup and Sandwich for an impressive stretch run. Early leader Nova Rags held on for fourth place.

Todd Pletcher-trained Known Agenda made $437,100 and paid $12.80, $6.60 and $3.20 for the win and can now set his sights on the Kentucky Derby. Soup and Sandwich was at 12/1, well down the odds list, but came through to grab $161,000 and pay $8.60 and $3.80.

For what looked like an easy third-place run, Greatest Honour returned $70,500 to his connections, added 20 points to give him a total of 80 qualifying points and paid $2.10 for a show bet. 

Fourth-place Nova Rags went off at 11/1 and picked up $35,250 and what will be a meaningless 10 Kentucky Derby qualifying points.

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