Somelikeithotbrown winning the Jeff Ruby Steaks (gr. III) - © Coady Photography/Turfway Park

Somelikeithotbrown winning the Jeff Ruby Steaks (gr. III) – © Coady Photography/Turfway Park

Odds-on favorite Somelikeithotbrown lived up to expectations in Saturday’s $200,000 Jeff Ruby Steaks (gr. III) at Turfway Park, dominating the race on the front end to win in essentially unchallenged fashion.

Under the guidance of jockey Tyler Gaffalione, Somelikeithotbrown utilized his excellent tactical speed to battle Five Star General for the early lead, carving out testing fractions of :23.61, :47.03, and 1:10.78 over a Polytrack course that was not producing very fast times.

Such a quick pace should have left Somelikeithotbrown leg-weary in the homestretch, and indeed, he slowed down noticeably during the final three furlongs, running the fourth quarter-mile in :27.06 and the final furlong in :14.21. But his rivals were even more exhausted from chasing his early pace, and despite drifting around down the homestretch, Somelikeithotbrown pulled away down the lane to prevail by 3 ¼ lengths in 1:52.05 seconds.

Dynamic Racer, runner-up behind Somelikeithotbrown in the John Battaglia Memorial Stakes, finished second once again at odds of 45-1, while longshot Moonster—coming off an eighth-place finish in the Sam F. Davis Stakes (gr. III) on dirt—rallied past Five Star General to grab the final spot in the trifecta.

Trained by Mike Maker, Somelikeithotbrown picked up 20 Kentucky Derby qualification points for his victory, placing him eighth on the current leaderboard. He’ll likely need additional points to ensure a spot in the Derby starting gate, which could potentially be a challenge since all of Somelikeithotbrown’s best effort have come on turf or Polytrack and he’ll have to try dirt from here on out. His lone run on dirt to date resulted in a seventh-place finish in his debut at Saratoga, though that was a 5 ½-furlong sprint and he has clearly improved a lot since stretching out in distance.

From a pedigree perspective, there’s no strong reason to think that Somelikeithotbrown can’t handle dirt. As a son of 2008 Kentucky Derby winner Big Brown out of a mare by Tapit, the sire of three Belmont Stakes winners, Somelikeithotbrown’s pedigree is filled with noteworthy dirt influences, and the versatility he’s shown to handle turf and Polytrack bodes well for yet another surface switch.

The bigger question is whether Somelikeithotbrown is fast enough to hold his own against tougher competition in a major Derby prep race. The 83 Beyer speed figure that he received for the Jeff Ruby was a slight improvement on his 80 from the John Battaglia Memorial, but these figures still leave him short of the mid-90s figures that have been winning most Derby prep races this year.

Fortunately, the Derby is still two months away, and there’s still time for Somelikeithotbrown to step up his game. He’s done everything asked of him so far this year, and if winds up relishing the switch to dirt, he could improve his speed figures in the blink of an eye.