Homebred Somelikeithotbrown's performance in the $200,000, Grade 3 Jeff Ruby Steaks matched the mantle of heavy favorite the colt bore entering the starting gate at Turfway Park on March 9.
Raced by Skychai Racing and co-breeder Sand Dollar Stables, the New York-bred son of Big Brown won the 1 1/8-mile Kentucky Derby presented by Woodford Reserve prep in near gate-to-wire fashion and never faced a serious challenge.
ROAD TO THE KENTUCKY DERBY LEADERBOARD
Somelikeithotbrown broke sharply and had wrested control of the race from WinStar Farm’s homebred Five Star General after a quarter-mile in :23.61. From there, the colt led the field through comfortable quarter-mile fractions of :47.03, 1:10.78, and a mile in 1:37.84. Coming out of the second turn, Lou Dunn Diekemper’s homebred Dynamic Racer — who finished second Feb. 15 to Somelikeithotbrown in the John Battaglia Memorial Stakes at Turfway — launched a challenge but never got closer than two lengths to the leader, who won by 3 1/4 lengths and stopped the timer in 1:52.05.
Dynamic Racer, though second in the John Battaglia, was sent off at 45.10-1 with the exotics further fattened by Moonster, who finished third for Calumet Farm at 59.80-1. Somelikeithotbrown paid $3.20, $2.60, and $2.60.
Somelikeithotbrown earned 20 qualifying points toward a start in the Kentucky Derby. Dynamic Racer earned eight points, Moonster earned four points, and fourth-placed Five Star General earned two points.
“The pace was honest and it looked like he was doing it pretty handily, and he put the horse [Dynamic Racer] away that was contesting the lead with him down the lane,” said trainer Mike Maker, who captured his fifth win in Turfway Park’s signature Derby prep. “With these two races, we’ll look at the Blue Grass.”
The Grade 2 Toyota Blue Grass Stakes will be run April 6 at Keeneland.
Jockey Tyler Gaffalione, who rode Somelikeithotbrown for the first time in the Jeff Ruby, said taking the lead so early had not been the plan.
“He broke so sharp, into the first turn I didn’t want to get in a fighting match with him, so I put my hands down and tried to get him to relax,” the winning rider said. “Down the lane, he was kind of waiting on horses, kind of looking around, but he did everything easy. He’s a very nice horse, very talented. Mike and his team did a great job with him.”