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Road to Kentucky Derby: ‘Phantom’ Pick in Louisiana

The Road to the Kentucky Derby heats up on Saturday with the first two of eight major-point qualifying races. The Grade 2 Louisiana Derby at the Fair Grounds and the Grade 3 Jeff Ruby Stakes at Turfway Park will be run, and both are sure to generate some Kentucky Derby news.

Full fields of 12 are expected with a pair of horses – Agate Road and Triple Espresso – cross-entered. Both are owned by Mike Repoli and trained by Todd Pletcher.

Road to Kentucky Derby: ‘Phantom’ Pick in Louisiana
Road to Kentucky Derby: ‘Phantom’ Pick in Louisiana


Saturday’s Preps

  • The Louisiana Derby will be run at 1 3/16 miles while the Jeff Ruby Stakes is 1⅛ miles.
  • Each race offers 200 Kentucky Derby qualifying points on a 100-50-25-15-10 basis. The first two finishers will likely have enough points to earn a spot in the 20-horse Derby starting gate on May 4, if the 2023 standings are an indication.
  • Two horses in the Louisiana Derby – Catching Freedom and Common Defense – only need a third-place finish to qualify for the Kentucky Derby. Louisiana Derby favorite Track Phantom already has enough points to qualify.


LOUISIANA DERBY, Fair Grounds, Race 12, Post Time 6:42 p.m. ET

It appears only two horses – Track Phantom (3-1 morning line) and Antiquarian (12-1) – have early speed in the Louisiana Derby. Joel Rosario and John Velazquez are the riders, so this could be a merry-go-round and a ding-dong to the wire. Track Phantom starts from post 12, but a long run before the first turn will allow the son of Quality Road to make the front pretty easily.

Keep it simple and head for the BetUS racebook to play an exacta box. Also, a win bet on Antiquarian to inch past Track Phantom in the stretch would add value.

Track Phantom (+1500) offers the lowest price in the BetUS Kentucky Derby odds among Louisiana Derby participants.



Two recent Louisiana Derby champions – Country House (2019) and Mandaloun (2021) – were declared the Kentucky Derby winner via disqualification. Grindstone (1996) and Funny Cide (2003) also won the Louisiana and Kentucky derbies in the traditional manner.


JEFF RUBY STAKES, Turfway, Race 12, Post Time 6:25 p.m. ET

Here’s another race lacking early speed, so Lucky Jeremy (8-1) becomes a major player from post 3. Lucky Jeremy ran matching career-high Beyers in his last two starts – both at Sunland. The Kentucky bred tries synthetic and 1⅛ miles for the first time, but could go all the way for jockey Gerardo Corrales (23% win rate) and trainer William Morey (24%), who work well together of late (28%) – especially at Turfway Park (32%).

Rich Strike, the 2022 Kentucky Derby winner at 80-1 in the horse racing odds, finished third in the Jeff Ruby. Rich Strike was not among the top 20 in the point standings, but got a spot in the Derby gate when Ethereal Road, trained by D. Wayne Lukas, was scratched the day before.

Two Phil’s, the 2023 Jeff Ruby winner, finished a strong second to Mage in the Kentucky Derby. Jeff Ruby champions who went on to win the Kentucky Derby were Lil E. Tee in 1992 on dirt, and Animal Kingdom in 2011 – after Turfway switched to a synthetic surface in 2005.



Questions of the Day

When is the Kentucky Derby?

The Kentucky Derby is traditionally run on the first Saturday in May. The 150th Kentucky Derby is scheduled for May 4, 2024, at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky.

What is the distance for the Louisiana Derby?

At 1 3/16 miles, the Louisiana Derby is the longest of any Kentucky Derby prep race.

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