Trainer Mike Maker will try for his third straight win in Turfway Park's Kentucky Derby points race and his fifth overall when he sends out Ken and Sarah Ramsey's Cash Call Kitten in the Jeff Ruby Steaks. The homebred son of the Ramseys' sensational stallion Kitten's Joy is two-for-two on the Gulfstream Park turf, including a win last month in the Sage of Monticello Stakes.
“He's an improving colt and I'm looking forward to a mile-and-an-eighth with him,” Maker said. “It took him a while to come around but he's putting it all together now.”
Tyler Gaffalione, third at the current Gulfstream Park meet, will have the mount.
Maker and the Ramseys have won this race with Kitten's Joy progeny twice before: in 2016 with eventual multiple graded stakes winner Oscar Nominated and in 2010 with Dean's Kitten. The first of Maker's four wins in the race came in 2006 with With a City for Ron Peltz and he won last year's running with Fast and Accurate for Kendall Hansen.
While Maker has dominated the Turfway Park standings in recent years, trainer Jonathan Wong will be saddling his first Turfway runner when he sends out Mugaritz for VIP Farms in the Jeff Ruby Steaks. Trained by Simon Callaghan for his first two starts, both claiming events on dirt, Mugaritz moved to Wong's barn at Golden Gate for his third start and his first on an all-weather surface. After Mugaritz dominated that race by six lengths, Wong moved him up to stakes competition. He was second in the California Derby (listed) in his second start for Wong and fourth in his most recent effort, the El Camino Real Derby (listed).
“He's doing great right now,” Wong said. “He might have made his move too soon in [the El Camino Real]. We've been working with him to rate in the mornings and he's catching on to that. With this race being on synthetic, it made sense to give it a try. After that, we'll see—maybe the Illinois Derby. He's not Triple Crown nominated.”
Mugaritz worked last Saturday at Golden Gate, going four furlongs handily in 1:01.40, and will leave California Wednesday morning for the trip to Turfway.
“It took 10 hours to get here, so we're not here for second or third. We want him to win,” said Jonathan Ferriday, assistant to trainer Michael Dickinson, of Jeff Ruby Steaks candidate Archaggelos. The colt shipped to Turfway from Dickinson's Tapeta Farm in Maryland last Tuesday and has been training steadily over the track. Ferriday will send him out again Wednesday morning around 8:30 a.m.
“He's based on the farm, so being in the barn is different for him, but he's acclimating well, training well and eating well,” said Ferriday.
The team is looking for a big effort from the Grey Stakes (G3) winner. “When he won the Grey he came from off the pace, but he can do what we want him to do,” Ferriday continued. “He's a fairly laid back little horse but he's not afraid. If there's a gap, even if it's a small gap, he'll go through it. He's very professional.”
To prepare for his expected start in the Jeff Ruby Steaks, Zanesville arrived at Turfway two weeks ago and has breezed twice over the surface, most recently this morning when he posted four furlongs in :47.60, best of 15 at the distance. The Tiznow colt is trained by Tom Amoss for Rosemont Farm. He has two wins in five starts, including a 7 1/2-length allowance score last out at Delta Downs. All of his starts have come over dirt.
“We shipped him early to get him accustomed to the track,” said Amoss. “We're mostly concerned with the surface. This will be his first time on it and he's facing much tougher competition this time out. The work this morning was pleasing.”
Zanesville will walk the shedrow Wednesday and return to the track Thursday and Friday. He'll also school in the gate Friday.
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