Jockey Rafael Bejarano set Turfway Park afire when he rode regularly here from 2002 to 2004. He won four straight riding titles in that time, including the 2003 holiday meet with a record-setting 46 races over 22 days. He also holds the record for most wins on one card with seven.
Long based in California, Bejarano returns to Turfway Saturday for Jeff Ruby Steaks day with mounts in four of the day's five undercard stakes, three of them for trainer Wesley Ward: Hawaiian Noises, the 2-1 morning line favorite in the Mayers Electric Company Animal Kingdom Stakes for 3-year-old sprinters; Onthewaytonevrland, the 2-1 favorite in the DRF Bets Rushaway Stakes for 3-year-olds; and Naughty Joker, the 9-2 second choice in the Maxim Crane Works Bourbonette Oaks for 3-year-old fillies.
The Bourbonette Oaks will be Naughty Joker's first start since she broke her maiden over a sloppy track at Churchill Downs in November in just her third start. A Ken and Sarah Ramsey homebred, the filly also has two seconds, including against males in the Spendthrift Juvenile Stakes at Churchill Downs in October. The Bourbonette Oaks will be her first start on an all-weather surface, but the Into Mischief filly trains at Turfway.
First on the Bourbonette morning line is 4-1 Into Trouble, also sired by Into Mischief. Into Trouble broke her maiden on debut and is already a stakes winner, taking the Arlington-Washington Lassie in her second start. She was well off the board in the Alcibiades (G1) in her next start. Trainer Ben Colebrook gave her time off and she came back to be second in her first start this year, the Gasparilla Stakes at Tampa Bay on Jan. 19.
The Rushaway Stakes will be the fourth start for Onthewaytonevrland. Owned by Ice Wine Stable, Onthewaytonevrland has three widely-spaced races under his belt, all showing speed. He was second in his most recent start, beaten a neck in a Santa Anita allowance optional claiming race at 7 1/2 furlongs, his first effort since breaking his maiden on the turf at Gulfstream. The Rushaway will be his first attempt at two turns. Like stablemate Naughty Joker, Onthewaytonevrland trains at Turfway, most recently breezing five furlongs in 1:01.40 on Saturday.
Ward not only trains Hawaiian Noises; he bred and owns the Super Saver colt as well. Hawaiian Noises comes in to the Animal Kingdom off two straight sprint wins, the first on the dirt at Keeneland in the fall and the second on Turfway's Polytrack on Dec. 13. Although the Animal Kingdom will be the first start of his sophomore season, he has been training well at Turfway, consistently breezing five furlongs and most recently, Feb. 27, timed at 1:01.20 for the distance.
Bejarano also rides Orecchiette for Jonathan Thomas in the Latonia Stakes but morning line honors in that race go to Princess Warrior at 5-2. Trained by Kenny McPeek, Princess Warrior won the 1 1/16-mile Mrs. Revere Stakes (G2) on the turf at Churchill Downs in the fall before dropping back to finish sixth in the American Oaks (G1) in the final start of her 3-year-old season. With $411,086 in purses, Princess Warrior has earned nearly twice as much as her nearest rivals in the Latonia with the exception of Susie Bee, whose bankroll at age seven stands at $424,608. Trained by Mike Maker for Calumet Farm, Susie Bee enters the Latonia off a come-from-behind neck victory in the Jersey Lilly Stakes at Sam Houston on Jan. 27.
The lone undercard stake without Bejarano named to ride is the Kentucky Cup Classic, revived last year. Run at 1 1/8 miles, the Kentucky Cup Classic has drawn a well matched field of eight older horses, with Nun the Less favored at 3-1. The well-traveled son of Candy Ride won the Prairie Bayou Stakes at Turfway in December before finishing off the board in the Razorback Handicap (G3) on Feb. 18 in his first start this year. Walter De La Cruz returns to ride for trainer Cipriano Contreras, who currently leads the Turfway Park standings.
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.
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