'He Definitely Belongs With The Top Horses In This Crop': Two Phil's Will Try Tapeta Route To Kentucky Derby Starting Gate - Horse Racing News | Paulick Report

‘He Definitely Belongs With The Top Horses In This Crop’: Two Phil’s Will Try Tapeta Route To Kentucky Derby Starting Gate

Hard Spun colt Two Phil’s, ridden by Jareth Loveberry, rolls to a convincing win in the G3 Street Sense

Patricia's Hope LLC and Phillip Sagan's Two Phil's has been on the Road to the Kentucky Derby since October and now the talented 3-year-old colt will attempt to etch his name in the “Run for the Roses” starting gate in Saturday's $700,000 Jeff Ruby Steaks (Grade 3) at Turfway Park Racing & Gaming.

Trained by Larry Rivelli, Two Phil's workman-like all-dirt resume includes a victory in the Street Sense Stakes (G3) at Churchill Downs, a runner-up finish to Instant Coffee in the Lecomte Stakes (G3) and third-place finish to Angel of Empire and Sun Thunder in the Risen Star (G2) at Fair Grounds. The Jeff Ruby Steaks will be Two Phil's first race on a Tapeta surface.

“The horse did a two-minute lick for me one time over a synthetic surface and it was almost an eye-opening move,” Rivelli said. “I've been trying to think of the easiest spot for the money and I think this will be the spot. If he absolutely hates the surface, that's on me. I'm sort of putting myself out there saying that I think he will run well over it. Working a half-mile or five-eighths is a lot different than running a race. That's when you find out if a horse doesn't like a surface. I'm pretty confident he will like it but like anything else in racing there could be a chance he doesn't like it. I didn't think he'd like the mud at Churchill (in the Street Sense) until he did.”

Two Phil's already has 23 points on the Road to the Kentucky Derby and Rivelli is confident the son of Hard Spun belongs with the top 3-year-olds.

“He definitely belongs with the top horses in this crop,” Rivelli said. “Is he capable of taking this next step? Who knows? There are going to be horses that start falling off but as long as no horses like Justify or American Pharoah come out of the woodwork, it could be a Derby this year that you could throw a dart.”

Another constant on Two Phil's resume is his jockey Jareth Loveberry. In the last six starts, Loveberry has been in the saddle. However, Loveberry nearly had to miss the Jeff Ruby Steaks when he suffered a hairline fracture in his fibula during a gate mishap on March 2 at Fair Grounds. Luckily, Loveberry was able to return to action two weeks later.

“Jareth is our guy,” Rivelli said. “He's a tough kid anyway but he might have been like the actor in the movie Seabiscuit when he tied the stick to his leg to make sure he was able to ride. After that happened, I was instantly scrambling for a jockey. I had a bunch that were dying to ride the horse but it's really good Jareth is able to ride.”

Two Phil's will break from post No. 10 in the Jeff Ruby Steaks and was tabbed as the 7-2 second choice on the morning line odds behind Major Dude (2-1).

“I'm just looking for him to get an uneventful trip if that's at all possible. He's not a speed horse, which is good because they typically don't do as well over the synthetic surface. If he can sit behind a horse or two and make his move around the turn with the shorter stretch, that's what I'd like to see.”

The Jeff Ruby Steaks, a Road to the Kentucky Derby Championship Series qualifier, will go as Race 12 of 13 with a post time of 6:25 p.m. (all times Eastern) First post for the stellar program will be 12:45 p.m. Along with the Jeff Ruby Steaks, stakes-laden card will also feature the 41st running of the $300,000 Bourbonette Oaks; the 23rd running of the $300,000 TwinSpires Kentucky Cup Classic (Listed); the 37th running of the $250,000 Animal Kingdom Stakes; the 41st running of the $250,000 Latonia Stakes; and the 36th running of the $250,000 Rushaway.

The Jeff Ruby Steaks will offer the top 5 finishers points on a 100-40-30-20-10 scale towards a spot in the starting gate for the $3 million Kentucky Derby presented by Woodford Reserve (G1).

Here is the complete field for the Jeff Ruby Steaks in order of post position (with jockey, trainer and morning line odds):

1. Major Dude (Irad Ortiz Jr., Todd Pletcher, 2-1)

2. Scoobie Quando (Luan Machado, Ben Colebrook, 15-1)

3. Event Detail (Walter Rodriguez, Paulo Lobo, 20-1)

4. Funtastic Again (Gerardo Corrales, Wesley Ward, 6-1)

5. Maker's Candy (Umberto Rispoli, Mike Maker, 12-1)

6. Baby Billy (Joe Talamo, Jack Sisterson, 30-1)

7. Bluebirds Over (Edgard Zayas, Saffie Joseph Jr., 12-1)

8. Congruent (Sonny Leon, Antonio Sano, 5-1)

9. Escapologist (Alex Achard, Kenny McPeek, 30-1)

10. Two Phil's (Loveberry, Rivelli, 7-2)

11. Wadsworth (Chris Landeros, Brad Cox, 8-1)

12. Point Proven (John Velazquez, Pletcher, 15-1)

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