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By Jarrod Horak

The Louisiana Derby and Jeff Ruby Steaks were the latest road to Kentucky Derby 2024 points races on Saturday, March 23. In this article, I will look back at those event and update my “Exceptional 11” Kentucky Derby contenders. The Grade 1 Florida Derby, Grade 1 Arkansas Derby, and Grade 2 UAE Derby are the next points races on the schedule for March 30.

Kentucky Derby 2024 Points Race Recaps

Louisiana Derby – March 23 (Fair Grounds)

Fractions: 23.49, 48.33, 1:12.54, 1.37.38, 1:56.16

Top 5 Finishers: Catching Freedom, Honor Marie, Tuscan Gold, Track Phantom, Common Defense

Track Phantom made the lead as expected. It looked like he might be able to scoot clear by a few lengths early, but Common Defense hounded him and stayed about a half-length back for much of the running. With no clear lead and possible distance limitations, Track Phantom was in trouble in the stretch, and the closers were coming. 3-1 second betting choice Catching Freedom rallied down the middle of the stretch in a last-to-first victory by a length over Honor Marie. The latter rallied from 10th place and grabbed the place by a bit less than a length over Tuscan Gold. Chad Brown’s lightly raced show finisher may have been best. He stalked wide from post 11 and missed the whole ball of wax by 1 3/4 lengths. His inexperience and wide trip cost him the win. Track Phantom was less than a length away from the show and was clear of 5th place runner Common Defense. Antiquarian, Agate Road, Next Level, Awesome Ruta, Hall of Fame, and Real Men Violin also ran. I am not sure how strong this race was. The top two finishers closed from the back of the pack, and the top four were separated by 2 1/2 lengths. Catching Freedom is getting better for Brad Cox and is capable of showing more positional speed. Honor Marie and Track Phantom have earned enough points to run on the first Saturday in May, and both are headed to Churchill Downs. Track Phantom drops out of my “exceptional 11” after losing ground in the stretch in his last two starts at 1 1/8 miles and 1 3/16 miles. Tuscan Gold will likely target the Preakness and/or Belmont Stakes.

Read more at Today’s Racing Digest

Jarrod Horak

Jarrod Horak posts stakes recaps from Del Mar and Santa Anita Park, along with full card recaps and free stakes picks from Southern and/or Northern California.