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2024 Kentucky Derby Contenders: CATCHING FREEDOM

The 150th Kentucky Derby (G1) is Saturday, May 4, at Churchill Downs, offering a record $5 million purse. The field is limited to 20 starters based on Derby qualifying points from dozens of prep races. 


Catching Freedom

A last-to-first burst in the Louisiana Derby validated him as a serious 3-year-old. Catching Freedom won by a length under Flavien Prat after trailing by 2½ lengths at the eighth pole.

“He was impressive closing from far back,” trainer Brad Cox said, “and I think the longer stretch at Churchill Downs plus the mile and a quarter should only help him in the Derby.”

Catching Freedom was the first of three stakes winners to emerge from the Risen Star on Feb. 17 at the Fair Grounds. He was third behind winner Sierra Leone, with Resilience and Honor Marie fourth and fifth, respectively. Honor Marie ran second in the Louisiana Derby, and victories April 6 by Sierra Leone (Blue Grass) and Resilience (Wood Memorial) make the Risen Star the key Derby prep.

Weird coincidence: Prat and Cox each “won” the Kentucky Derby on a disqualification. Prat and 65-1 shot Country House were elevated from second in 2019 after a 22-minute inquiry took down Maximum Security. After running second in the 2021 Derby, Cox and Mandaloun had to wait almost 11 months to be awarded the victory because of a medication violation against Medina’s Spirit. It felt rewarding but also hollow.

“I think the thrill of winning the Derby is watching your horse cross the wire first and walking to the winner’s circle with everybody in the world watching,” Cox said. “We didn’t get to experience that, and we need to get back there and win it that way.”

Maybe Catching Freedom can make that happen.

2024 Kentucky Derby Contenders Odds and Post Position: Catching Freedom

Betting advice: Catching Freedom excelled in the 1 3/16-mile Louisiana Derby, so stamina isn’t an issue. Worth an across-the-board bet on a legitimate contender at likely double-digit odds.

Post position: 4

Odds: 8/1

Jockey: Flavien Prat

Trainer: Brad Cox

Owner: Albaugh Racing Stables

Career record: 5-3-0-1

Career earnings: $877,350

Most recent race: Louisiana Derby, March 23 (1st)

Top Equibase speed figure: 98

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

Color: Bay

Running style: Closer

Notes: Catching Freedom worked 4 furlongs in 48.00 at Churchill Downs on April 13, 14th fastest of 123 at the distance. Cox: “He’s had very steady training the last five, six weeks … Prat, a 31-year-old native of France, is among the country’s elite riders. He’s a go-to guy for many top trainers, including Cox and Chad Brown. Has won with more than 20% of his career mounts, with a high of 27% in 2021, when he rode undefeated Horse of the Year Flightline … Cox, 44, grew up in Louisville, near Churchill Downs. He won the Eclipse Award for leading trainer in 2020 and 2021 and saddled at least 200 winners in each of the past seven years.


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