2024 Preakness Contenders: CATCHING FREEDOM

The 149th Preakness (G1) is this Saturday, May 18, at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore. The 1 3/16-mile race is the second leg of the Triple Crown. usracing.com is publishing profiles of the contenders.


There were positives about Catching Freedom’s fourth-place finish in the Kentucky Derby, when jockey Flavien Prat gave him a good trip. The Equibase chart comment: “ … followed the winner into the lane along the inside, continued on well and was making up ground.” Catching Freedom gained about 1¾ lengths in the final furlong on the tiring Mystik Dan, who got a brilliant, ground-saving ride from Brian Hernandez, Jr.

Although it never looked as if he would win, Catching Freedom fell short by only 1¾ lengths of the three-nose photo. Brad Cox rarely brings back horses on two weeks’ rest, but he’s taking a shot at the Preakness with a horse who’s never run a bad race in six starts. He posted a career-top speed figure in the Derby, and a similar effort could produce a win at Pimlico.

Mystik Dan saved every inch of ground and barely lasted for the victory, and Catching Freedom needs to make up only two lengths on him. He won’t be facing runner-up Sierra Leone or third finisher Forever Young, and Catching Freedom was 6¾ lengths ahead of fifth-place T O Password.

Cox originally wasn’t planning to send Catching Freedom to the Preakness. He committed to the race on Sunday morning, the day before the post-position draw.

“It basically comes down to how the horse is doing, and we’re happy with the way he’s training,” Cox said. “Based off who we hear is running, he stacks up with that group of horses.

“We need to get our ducks in a row, and we feel he’s shown us enough.”

Betting advice: Ran well in the Derby, deserves respect. Main concern: Coming back in two weeks after never having less than a 35-day break. If he can handle the quick turnaround, he’s a live overlay.

Post position: 3

Odds: 6/1

Jockey: Flavien Prat

Trainer: Brad Cox

Owner: Albaugh Family Stables

Career record: 6-3-0-1

Career earnings: $1,127,350

Most recent race: Kentucky Derby, May 4 (4th)

Top Equibase speed figure: 107

Pedigree: Constitution-Catch My Drift, by Pioneerof the Nile

Color: Bay

Running style: Closer

Notes: Catching Freedom would be only the third Preakness runner for Cox, who was third and fourth, respectively, in 2019 with Owendale and Warrior’s Charge. Neither ran in the Derby … Prat rode Catching Freedom to a last-to-first win in the Louisiana Derby his first time on him. Fellow Frenchman Florent Geroux rode his first two races, followed by Cristian Torres and Luis Saez … Cox’s two Triple Crown victories came in 2021 with Mandaloun (Kentucky Derby) and Essential Quality (Belmont Stakes). Mandaloun was awarded the win the following February when Medina Spirit was disqualified because of a drug violation.

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