Kentucky Derby 2024 Update (1-10-24)

Churchill Downs photo by Stacy Edwards

By Jarrod Horak

The is my first Kentucky Derby 2024 report of the new year. In this article, I will look back at the Smarty Jones and Jerome, and update my “Exceptional 11” Derby contenders. The Lecomte at Fair Grounds on Jan. 20 is the next Kentucky Derby prep, and the winner will receive 20 points.  

Kentucky Derby 2024 Points Race Recaps

Smarty Jones – Jan. 1 (Oaklawn)

Fractions: 23.02, 47.01, 1:12.20, 1:38.34, 1:44.59

Top 5 Finishers: Catching Freedom, Just Steel, Informed Patriot, Gettysburg Address, Mystik Dan

Just Steel was the morning line favorite but bettors flocked to Catching Freedom in this 1 1/16 miles Derby prep. The pace was honest with Lagynos showing the way and Mystic Dan and Just Steel chasing. Catching Freedom was patiently handled under Cristian Torres, and Brad Cox’s Constitution colt moved up while racing wide, straightened out in the stretch, and pulled clear to win by 2 1/2 lengths. Just Steel stalked, gained a short advantage in the lane, and dug in to hold the place over Informed Patriot and Gettysburg Address. The latter was my top choice under Flavien Prat, and he was last early after a troubled beginning. He was grinding away from off the pace and found his best stride late, and probably would have finished 2nd with a better start and trip. Catching Freedom acts like he will handle more ground, and Gettysburg Address probably deserves another chance.  

Jerome – Jan. 6 (Aqueduct)

Fractions: 24.50, 49.06, 1:14.92, 1:28.40, 1:41.91

Top 5 Finishers: Drum Roll Please, El Grande O, Khanate, Regalo, Sweet Soddy J

Drum Roll Please made this one look easy. The track was fast and El Grande O dueled with Regalo through the opening quarter, and Khanate took up the chase after that. El Grande O was able to grab a short lead in the stretch but Drum Roll Please represented a fresh challenge, and Brad Cox’s Hard Spun colt rallied wide and scored by 3 3/4 lengths under Javier Castellano. El Grande O was clearly second best, and Khanate was best of the rest in third. This was not a fast race. 

Kentucky Derby 2024 Points Race Results

Iroquois (10-5-3-2-1) – Sept. 16 – Winner: West Saratoga ($26.96)

Champagne (10-5-3-2-1) – Oct. 7 – Winner: Timberlake ($11.80)

American Pharoah (10-5-3-2-1) – Oct. 7 – Winner: Muth ($2.80)

Breeders’ Futurity (10-5-3-2-1) – Oct. 7 – Winner: Locked ($3.52)

Street Sense (10-5-3-2-1) – Oct. 29 – Winner: Liberal Arts ($14.18)

BC Juvenile (30-15-9-6-3) – Nov. 3 – Winner: Fierceness ($35.00)

Ky Jockey Club (10-5-3-2-1) – Nov. 25 – Winner: Honor Marie ($19.62)

Remsen (10-5-3-2-1) – Dec. 3 – Winner: Dornoch ($5.40)

Springboard Mile (10-5-3-2-1) – Dec. 15 – Winner: Otto the Conqueror ($4.80)

Los Al Futurity (10-5-3-2-1) – Dec. 16 – Winner: Wynstock ($29.40)

Gun Runner (10-5-3-2-1) – Dec. 23 – Winner: Track Phantom ($11.80)

Smarty Jones (10-5-3-2-1) – Jan. 1- Winner: Catching Freedom ($5.40)

Jerome (10-5-3-2-1) – Jan. 6 – Winner: Drum Roll Please ($3.20)

Upcoming Points Races:

Lecomte (20-10-6-4-2) – Jan. 20 

Southwest (20-10-6-4-2) – Jan. 27 

Holy Bull (20-10-6-4-2) – Feb. 3 

Robert Lewis (20-10-6-4-2) – Feb. 3 

Withers (20-10-6-4-2) – Feb. 3

Sam F. Davis (20-10-6-4-2) – Feb. 10 

Risen Star (50-25-15-10-5) – Feb. 17 

Sunland Derby (20-10-6-4-2) – Feb. 18

Rebel (50-25-15-10-5) – Feb. 24 

Fountain of Youth (50-25-15-10-5) – March 2 

Gotham (50-25-15-10-5) – March 2 

John Battaglia Memorial (20-10-6-4-2) – March 2 

San Felipe (50-25-15-10-5) – March 2 

Tampa Bay Derby (50-25-15-10-5) – March 9 

Jeff Ruby Steaks (100-50-25-15-10) – March 23  

Louisiana Derby (100-50-25-15-10) – March 23

Florida Derby (100-50-25-15-10) – March 30

UAE Derby (100-50-25-15-10) – March 30

Arkansas Derby (100-50-25-15-10) – March 30 

Blue Grass (100-50-25-15-10) – April 6 

SA Derby (100-50-25-15-10) – April 6 

Wood Memorial (100-50-25-15-10) – April 6 

Lexington (20-10-6-4-2) – April 13 


Kentucky Derby 2024 Points Leaders (thru 1-10-24)

Fierceness (30 points)

Locked (19 points)

Timberlake (16 points)

Liberal Arts, Drum Roll Please (13 points)

West Saratoga (11 points)

Honor Marie, Otto the Conqueror, Dornoch, Catching Freedom, Track Phantom (10 points)

Risk It (8 points)

Moonlight (7 points) 

Informed Patriot (6 points)

The Wine Steward, Just Steel, Glengarry, General Partner, Real Men Violin, Stronghold, Sierra Leone, El Grande O, Snead (5 points) 

Jarrod Horak’s “Exceptional Eleven” Kentucky Derby 2024 Contenders (1-10-24)

1 – Fierceness (City of Light – Nonna Bella, by Stay Thirsty) – Trainer: Todd Pletcher – Last Ranking (1)

Comments: Chased the pace and ran away from Muth in a fast and visually pleasing effort in the Grade 1 BC Juvenile on Nov. 3. That was his second blowout win from three starts and he clearly has unlimited potential. He is wintering in Florida and has breezed four times at Palm Beach Downs. His most recent published workout was a five panel move in 1:01.34 on Jan. 4. Right now, it looks like they are targeting the Holy Bull (G3) at Gulfstream on Feb. 3.  

2 – Nysos (Nyquist – Zetta Z, by Bernardini) – Trainer: Bob Baffert –  Last Ranking (2)

Comments: Won for fun in both sprint starts including the Grade 3 Bob Hope at Del Mar on Nov. 19. He worked three times at Santa Anita in December, and went five furlongs in 59 flat at that same venue on Jan. 7. He might be a candidate for the Southwest (G3) at Oaklawn on Jan. 27. 

3 – Locked (Gun Runner – Luna Rosa, by Malibu Moon) – Trainer: Todd Pletcher –  Last Ranking (3)

Comments: His Breeders’ Futurity (G1) win from the outside post was terrific, and he was getting to Muth for the runner-up spot in the BC Juvenile. Overall, he had a clean closing trip in the BC, but the race flow was not in his favor and he did the best he could under the circumstances. He has breezed four times at Palm Beach Downs and worked his way up to five panels on Jan. 4 (1:01.34).  

4 – Nash (Medaglia d’Oro – Sara Louise, by Malibu Moon) – Trainer: Brad Cox –  Last Ranking (4)

Comments: I am assuming that he bounced in the Gun Runner on Dec. 23. His two turn maiden win at Churchill on Nov. 11 was a thing of beauty, and I would not be surprised if he ran a much better race in his next start, which might come in the Lecomte (G3) on Jan. 20. He breezed a half-mile at Fair Grounds in 49.20 on Jan. 5. 

5 – Muth (Good Magic – Hoppa, by Uncle Mo) – Trainer: Bob Baffert –  Last Ranking (5)

Comments: Picked up his second graded victory in the San Vicente (G2). He was excellent in the Grade 1 American Pharoah last fall and turned back to seven panels in his easy San Vicente score. He figures to get back around two turns next time. 

6 – Timberlake (Into Mischief – Pin Up-IRE, by Lookin At Lucky) – Trainer: Brad Cox –  Last Ranking (6)

Comments: Still no works from this colt after finishing 4th in the BC Juvenile (G1). He raced five times in 2023 and made the grade in the Champagne (G1) last fall. The plan is probably two starts before the Kentucky Derby. 

7 – Track Phantom (Quality Road – Miss Sunset, by Into Mischief) – Trainer: Steve Asmussen –  Last Ranking (7)

Comments: This colt showed real determination in the Gun Runner and is now 2-for-2 around two turns after that victory. He got back to work with a five panel move in 1:02 flat at Fair Grounds on Jan. 7.  It looks like he is targeting the Grade 3 Lecomte at Fair Grounds on Jan. 20.

8 – Sierra Leone (Gun Runner – Heavenly Love, by Malibu Moon) – Trainer: Chad Brown –  Last Ranking (8)

Comments: He rallied over a speed favoring surface and just missed in the Remsen (G2) on Dec. 2. Dornoch won that race and was one of seven speed horses to tally at Aqueduct that day. This Chad Brown runner has worked three times since the Remsen including a relatively fast half-mile in 48.80 at Payson Park on Jan. 6. 

9 – Pilot Commander (Justify – Rebuke, by Carson City) – Trainer: Bob Baffert –  Last Ranking (10)

Comments: He defeated his stablemate Imagination by 2 1/4 lengths in his sprint bow at Del Mar on Nov. 11, and that runner earned his diploma in a flat mile race as the chalk at Santa Anita on Jan. 1. Pilot Commander was no match for his talented stablemate Muth in the Grade 2 San Vicente at seven panels on Jan. 6, but he dug in gamely and edged Slider for the place by a head. This one might go better over a route of ground in his next start. 

10 – Stronghold (Ghostzapper – Spectator, by Jimmy Creed) – Trainer: Phil D’Amato –  Last Ranking (11)

Comments: This one completed the exacta behind Baffert trainees Nysos and Wynstock in his last two graded stakes starts. He had every chance to get by the front runner in the Los Al Futurity (G2) on Dec. 16 but came up a half-length short. He worked an easy half-mile in 49 flat at Santa Anita on Jan. 2, and breezed four panels again on Jan. 8 (47.80).  

11 –  Knightsbridge (Nyquist – Tyburn Brook, by Bernardini) – Trainer: Bill Mott –  Last Ranking (9)

Comments: He was stellar in his Churchill Downs debut at seven panels on Nov. 4. I had him ranked as high as #5, but he has not worked since his bow and has been steadily dropping. He needs to have a morning work prior to my next Derby report or he will drop off my list. 

Next Nine – (12) Dornoch, (13) Coach Prime, (14) Catching Freedom, (15) Resilience, (16) Drum Roll Please, (17) Imagination, (18) Otello, (19) Prince of Monaco, (20) Lightline