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Kentucky Derby 1-20: Catching Freedom Moves to Head of Class

Picking the winner of the Kentucky Derby at the racebook is difficult enough, but placing where the horses will finish is more challenging with as many as 20 in the starting gate on Saturday at Churchill Downs in Louisville.

There will be horses that get horrible trips. There will be others who go too fast near the lead and retreat. There will also be others who pass those tiring horses in the stretch, moving into the top 10.

Kentucky Derby 1-20: Catching Freedom Moves to Head of Class
LEANDRO LOZADA / AFP

There could be a decent pace with Dornoch needing to go hard from the rail, Track Phantom out fast from the 12 hole, and perhaps Japanese hopeful T.O. Password (10) among others.

That prospect will help the patient stalkers such as favored Fierceness (17) and closers like second favorite Sierra Leone (2) and Catching Freedom (4).

Here’s a look at how it could fall into place, especially if the top two favorites in the horse racing odds fail to win.

 

Just Happy To Be Here

It’s quite an accomplishment to make the Derby field, but these horses will probably have better days ahead.

    1. T.O. Password (10) – He used speed in his only two races in Japan and is probably too lightly raced for a challenge like this.
    2. .Grand Mo The First (16) – Was gritty to finish third in the Tampa Bay and Florida Derbys, but is up against it in this field.
    3. Society Man (20) – Colt by Good Magic is getting better, as shown by his second in the Wood Memorial, but will be hard-pressed to run with these.
    4. West Saratoga (13) – Hard-nosed colt held on for second in the Jeff Ruby Steaks, but will probably get swallowed in the stretch.
    5. Track Phantom (12) – A good chance this horse will be on the lead at the first turn and take them down the backstretch, but he went backward to fourth place at the Louisiana Derby on a relatively easy pace.
    6. Catalytic (5) – Tough call coming off a strong second to Fierceness in Florida Derby, but this is his fourth career race.
    7. Stronghold (3) – Won the Sunland and Santa Anita Derbys and could surprise, but we don’t think he is fast enough.
    8. Dornoch (1) – Has to break from the rail, but the brother of 2023 Derby winner Mage has not been as good for your sport betting as he was last year.
    9. Epic Ride (21) – Gets in with the scratch of Encino off a solid third in the Blue Grass Stakes. Expect him to pick off some tiring horses in the stretch, but nothing more.

 

Wild Cards That Could Surprise

These horses have shown enough to give them a chance to be competitive.

  1. Resilience (19) – Won the Wood Memorial professionally, but he is just 2-for-6, was fourth in the Risen Star Stakes and probably won’t like his post.
  2. Mystik Dan (3) – His best race in the Southwest Stakes at Oaklawn was on a wet track, riding a golden rail. He will be running his best in the stretch, though.
  3. Endlessly (14) – Has won five times, but none of his six races have been on dirt. He won the Jeff Ruby Steaks on synthetic. Animal Kingdom and Rich Strike ran on the synthetic before taking the Derby, though, and Two Phil’s was second last year after winning the Ruby.

8.. Just Steel (6) – The son of Triple Crown winner Justify was a solid second in the Arkansas Derby and is trained by four-time Derby winner D. Wayne Lukas.

Seven Chances To Wear Roses

  1. Honor Marie (7) – This horse will probably win a big race down the road. He is capable of hitting the board here, but others just seem a bit more powerful in the stretch.
  2. Forever Young (11) – He is 5-for-5 as he tries to become the first Japanese horse to win the Derby. The grandson of Congrats has a chance, but the other closers may be slightly better. Won’t tell you not to bet him, though.

 

  1. Fierceness (17) – It’s possible he will take over at the top of the stretch and give trainer Todd Pletcher and jockey John Velasquez another Derby win convincingly. But if he is a little off, there are horses that can beat him.
  2. Domestic Product (15) – The Beyer figures are a little low, but he beat Fierceness in the Holy Bull and closed well into a slow pace to win the Tampa Bay Derby. The world’s top jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. is aboard as well.
  3. Sierra Leone (2) – Easy to put this son of Gun Runner on top after his tour de force in the Blue Grass. Has won three of four and will be going well in the stretch. Perhaps a little traffic trouble gets him beat.
  4. Just A Touch (8) – Son of Justify has enough speed to stay up close and spring a big move. If Fierceness isn’t a monster Saturday, perhaps jockey Florent Geroux takes the lead at the top of the stretch and gets brave.
  5. Catching Freedom (4) – Has been working well for trainer Brad Cox and may be ready to produce his best race. He made a dazzling move on the final turn and ran everyone down while wide in the Louisiana Derby. The son of Constitution broke his maiden at Churchill and jockey Flavien Prat knows how to win big races if you bet online.

 

Questions of the Day

Who was the biggest longshot to win the Derby?


Donerail 91-1 in 1913. Rich Strike, who won at 80-1 in 2022, is second.

Who was the last favorite to win the Derby?


Justify in 2018. That ended a streak of six straight favorites to win the race. The last five all finished second through fourth.

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