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Kentucky Derby and Horse Racing at The Downey Profile®

Skychai Sky High on Somelikeithotbrown

3/6/2019

Battaglia Winner Favored in Morning Line

Skychai Racing and Sand Dollar Stable’s Somelikeithotbrown has been installed as the 8-5 morning line favorite among a field of 11 entered for Saturday’s $200,000 Jeff Ruby Steaks Saturday at Turfway Park.

Post positions for the race were drawn Wednesday at Jeff Ruby Steakhouse in downtown Cincinnati. National racing analyst and long time oddsmaker Mike Battaglia set the morning line.

John Battaglia Memorial Stakes winner Somelikeithotbrown is owned by Skychai Racing and Sand Dollar Stable.

Commenting on the colt’s morning line favoritism and his post 10 draw, Skychai Racing’s Harvey Diamond said, “Good for him! We’re excited. It really makes no difference whether we are the favorite or not. We intend to run and give it our best shot. I think he’ll be fine no matter where he is in the gate; he’s a good gate horse. We’re just happy that he’s in the gate.”

Skywire, who won his dirt debut by six lengths when an allowance optional claiming race at Gulfstream Park was taken off the turf, is the morning line second choice at 3-1.

The field:

Post

Horse

Trainer

Jockey

ML Odds

1

Dynamic Racer

Ronald Kahles

Euclyn Prentice Jr.

12-1

2

Moonster

Dale Romans

John McKee

20-1

3

Five Star General

Arnaud Delacour

Declan Cannon

6-1

4

Dabo

Dale Romans

Luan Machado

10-1

5

Baytown Jimbo

Paul McEntee

Alexis Achard

15-1

6

Skywire

Mark Casse

Gary Boulanger

3-1

7

Counter Offer

Ian Wilkes

Malcolm Franklin

10-1

8

Twelfthofneverland

Raymond Handal

Sheldon Russell

10-1

9

Curlin Grey

Kenneth McPeek

Brian Hernandez Jr.

10-1

10

Somelikeithotbrown

Michael Maker

Tyler Gaffalione

8-5

11

Speed App

D. Wayne Lukas

Walter De La Cruz

20-1

Battaglia and NBC sportscaster Tom Hammond are two of several partners who comprise Peacock Stable, which owns Dabo in partnership with West Point Thoroughbreds. The Temple City gelding was third in the John Battaglia Memorial Stakes, the local prep for the Jeff Ruby Steaks, and is one of several at 10-1 on the morning line.

“I’m looking for more speed to set it up for him,” said Battaglia after the draw. “He’s a late runner. I think we’ll get more speed than we had in the Battaglia. I’m glad to see it. I’m expecting the pace to be faster than it was last time, plus it’s a longer race. I think the horse will run very well.”

A month ago, Counter Offer rallied to finish fourth in the Sam F. Davis Stakes, nosing out Knicks Go to collect the race’s last available point toward the Kentucky Derby.

After breaking his maiden in his fourth start on turf, Counter Offer made his first start on dirt in November when a mile allowance was taken off the turf at Churchill Downs. He finished fifth, beaten 7 1/2 lengths, but he had made a huge closing run from the back of the pack, more than 17 lengths off the lead. Trainer Ian Wilkes put him back on the dirt at Tampa Bay in his next start. Racing closer to the pace, he again rallied in the stretch to be second in the one mile, 40-yard race. He finished just a length and a half off the winner, the front running Well Defined, and showed grit in the effort.

“It’s all good, going according to plans,” trainer Ian Wilkes said. “He’s training well, and I expect him to run well this weekend.”

Twelfthofneverland just missed winning his third straight dirt race Feb. 1 for owner John Mahr in a mile test at Aqueduct. In his previous start he prevailed by a neck at Aqueduct at the same distance but in the mud, a fact that might benefit him if Saturday’s rain forecast holds. One race earlier, he broke his maiden when another Aqueduct mile was taken off the turf. But while Twelfthofneverland’s two wins in seven starts have come on dirt, trainer Ray Handal is not concerned about the move to Polytrack on Saturday.

“I expect him to love the surface,” said Handal. “His sire, Istan, won the Turfway Park Fall Championship Stakes in 2007.”

Twelfthofneverland arrived at Turfway from New York on March 3 and Handal reports he has settled in well.

On paper, the best efforts of Five Star General’s burgeoning career also have come on dirt. In the back of trainer Arnaud Delacour’s mind, however, was the thought the colt would need a surface switch to reach his full potential.

Twice last year Delacour tried to enter the son of Distorted Humor on the turf, and twice the race was moved to the main track, first at Laurel in October, where he raced over a sealed sloppy track, and then at Aqueduct in November. Though Five Star General handily prevailed both times, by better than four lengths at Laurel and by 1 1/4 lengths in his gate-to-wire victory in Aqueduct’s Central Park Stakes, Delacour worried his charge would find the waters too deep when facing better quality dirt runners.

The thought at the back of Delacour’s mind was validated on Feb. 9 when Five Star General finished sixth in his seasonal bow, the Sam F. Davis Stakes. With the defeat came a door of opportunity, however, as Delacour will send the bay colt over a synthetic surface for the first time in Saturday’s Jeff Ruby Steaks.

“I always thought he would be limited in ability on the dirt when we started to run against really true dirt horses,” Delacour said, “and that’s a little bit what happened. So I wasn’t really disappointed. He kind of ran like we were expecting him to. He breezed very well over the synthetic track at Fair Hill when we were getting him ready last year. I always thought he would be more of a turf type of horse or synthetic. There are not that many opportunities to test them at this level on the synthetic, so we thought it would be a good idea to try it and get a bit of a read on how he handles the track.”

Owned by WinStar Farm, China Horse Club and SF Racing, Five Star General has won two of four career starts. He will be piloted Saturday for the first time by Declan Cannon, but even if the pair ends up in the winner’s circle, Delacour said he would be hesitant to try to duplicate such an effort in the Kentucky Derby.

“Unless something changed, like we brought him to Keeneland and he breezed very well on the dirt or something like that, I don’t really think Derby for him,” Delacour said.

Entries for all 12 of Saturday’s races were drawn Wednesday, including the Maxim Crane Works Bourbonette Oaks (listed), Kubota Kentucky Cup Classic (BT), Latonia Stakes (BT), DRF Bets Rushaway Stakes (BT) and Mayers Electric Company Animal Kingdom Stakes.

The 1 1/8 mile Jeff Ruby Steaks for 3-year-olds over Polytrack offers 34 points toward the Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve: 20 to the winner, eight to the runner-up, four for third place and two for fourth place.

First post Saturday is 1:10 p.m. ET. The stakes series begins with the sixth race at 3:33 p.m., and 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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