From the Turfway Park Media Team:
The road to the Kentucky Derby presented by Woodford Reserve (G1) runs through Northern Kentucky Saturday, March 14, when Turfway Park hosts its annual Derby prep race, the $250,000 Jeff Ruby Steaks (G3). The signature race is one of 12 races on the day, including six stakes races.
As Jeff Ruby Steaks day is the highlight of Turfway’s racing season, so the VIP tent is the centerpiece of the day itself. Situated along the homestretch of the one-mile track, the enclosed, clear-span tent seats 1,700 and is sold out. The chefs of Jeff Ruby Culinary Entertainment will prepare the grand buffet featuring USDA Prime striploin and such Jeff Ruby favorites as six-cheese macaroni and cheese. Guests will also enjoy the tent’s premium open bar, including Maker’s Mark specialties and craft beers from Braxton Brewing Company. Between races, Louisville, Ky.-based band Soul Circus will entertain, and guests can win prizes, including Ultimate Air Shuttle flights.
Maker’s Mark provides the tent’s unique silent auction, offering 30 of the iconic bottles with the distillery’s trademark red wax but blank labels. Winning bidders will then have their caricatures drawn on their bottles. Proceeds from the auction benefit Cincinnati Therapeutic Riding and Horsemanship.
Among special guests in the tent is Consul General of Canada Joseph Comartin. In 2019 Turfway and Toronto’s Woodbine Racetrack established the All-Weather Winner’s Challenge, giving winners of specified races at one track automatic spots in premier races at the other track. The Jeff Ruby Steaks winner is guaranteed a spot in the Marine Stakes (G3) at Woodbine, while the winner of Woodbine’s Grey Stakes (G3) is invited to start in the Jeff Ruby Steaks.
New this year, Jeff Ruby’s chefs also will prepare the buffet served in three venues in the grandstand: the Homestretch restaurant on the first floor, the Clubhouse on the fifth floor, and the Party Deck on the third floor. Reservations without buffet service are available on the second floor and in Players’ Row, individual handicapping stations on the first and second floors. Reservations in the grandstand range from $25 to $90 and are available by calling (859) 371-0200.
All venues are non-smoking except Players’ Row on the first floor and a separate cigar tent in the courtyard of the VIP tent.
General admission is free, with seating available on the second and third floors and the track apron. Fans may bring lawn chairs. Neither food nor beverages may be brought in. Parking is free; valet parking is available.
Thoroughbred racing loves its traditions, and for Turfway on Jeff Ruby Steaks day that includes 175 gallons of “green drink,” a fan favorite that blends orange juice, pineapple juice, blue Curaçao, gin, tequila, rum, and vodka. Another tradition is the annual hat giveaway. The first 1,000 fans who purchase the $5 souvenir racing program on March 14 will receive a free cap stitched with the Jeff Ruby Steaks logo.
Gates open at 11 a.m. First post is 1:10 p.m., and the first of the day’s six stakes races goes off at 3:42 p.m. The Jeff Ruby Steaks is the 11th race, with a 6:42 p.m. post.
First run in 1972 as the Spiral Stakes, the 1 1/8-mile Jeff Ruby Steaks for 3-year-old Thoroughbreds is one of 47 races in the United States, Europe, Japan and the Emirate of Dubai to award points that determine the 20 starters for the $3 million Kentucky Derby. Similarly, the Maxim Crane Works Bourbonette Oaks (listed) on the Jeff Ruby undercard is one of 30 races for 3-year-old fillies that offer points toward the Kentucky Oaks (G1).
Also on the card are the Twin Spires Kentucky Cup Classic, the Mayers Electric Company Animal Kingdom Stakes, the Latonia Stakes and the Rushaway Stakes.
This year’s edition of the race, the 49th, will be the first run under track ownership by Churchill Downs Inc. and the last at the current facility. The existing 60-year-old grandstand is slated for demolition after Turfway’s racing season closes March 28 to make way for a new racing and gaming facility.