Kentucky Derby 2024 Update (2-27-24)

Timberlake wins the 2024 Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn – Photo: Coady Media

By Jarrod Horak

The Rebel Stakes was the latest road to Kentucky Derby 2024 points race. In this article, I will look back at that event and update my “Exceptional 11” Kentucky Derby contenders. The next four points races are the Fountain of Youth (G2), Gotham (G3), John Battaglia Memorial, and San Felipe (G2). All of those races will be run on Saturday, March 2.

Kentucky Derby 2024 Points Race Recaps

Rebel Stakes – Feb. 24 (Oaklawn Park)  

Fractions: 23.20, 47.67, 1:12.93, 1:37.91, 1:44.00

Top 5 Finishers: Timberlake, Common Defense, Northern Flame, Woodcourt, Dimatic

This race was a tale of two trips and reminded me of the 2023 Breeders’ Futurity. In the latter Grade 1 race at Keeneland, The Wine Steward saved all the ground stalking the pace from the inside post, and race favorite Locked was wide throughout from the outside post. Locked drove past The Wine Steward to win by a half-length and was stronger than the winning margin. In the 2024 Rebel, Common Defense saved all the ground stalking the pace from the inside post, and Timberlake was three wide into the far turn and four wide in the stretch. Brad Cox’s Into Mischief colt drifted out in the lane and Common Defense hugged the rail throughout. Timberlake straightened out and was much the best by two lengths, and Common Defense was clearly second best. Timberlake was solid in his first start of the year and can build on this 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)

Lecomte (20-10-6-4-2) – Jan. 20 – Winner: Track Phantom ($4.80)

Withers (20-10-6-4-2) – Feb. 3 – Uncle Heavy ($20.60)

Robert Lewis (20-10-6-4-2) – Feb. 3 – Winner: Nysos ($2.20) 

Southwest (20-10-6-4-2) – Feb. 3 – Winner: Mystik Dan ($24.80)

Holy Bull (20-10-6-4-2) – Feb. 3 – Winner: Hades ($20.20)

Sam F. Davis (20-10-6-4-2) – Feb. 10 – Winner: No More Time ($8.60)

Risen Star (50-25-15-10-5) – Feb. 17 – Winner: Sierra Leone ($7.40)

Sunland Derby (20-10-6-4-2) – Feb. 18 – Winner: Stronghold ($4.40)

Rebel (50-25-15-10-5) – Feb. 24 – Winner: Timberlake ($3.60)

Upcoming Points Races: 

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 


Top 25 Kentucky Derby 2024 Points Leaders (thru 2-27-24)

Timberlake (66 points)

Sierra Leone, Track Phantom (55 points)

Fierceness (36 points)

Common Defense (27 points)

Stronghold, Catching Freedom (25 points)

Mystik Dan (21 points)

Hades, Uncle Heavy, No More Time (20 points)

Locked, Liberal Arts (19 points)

Northern Flame (18 points)

West Saratoga (17 points)

Just Steel, Honor Marie, El Grande O (15 points)

Nash (13 points)

Agate Road, Otto the Conqueror, Dornoch, Alotaluck, Domestic Product, Resilience (10 points)

Jarrod Horak’s “Exceptional Eleven” Kentucky Derby 2024 Contenders (2-27-24)

1 – Sierra Leone (Gun Runner – Heavenly Love, by Malibu Moon) – Trainer: Chad Brown –  Last Ranking (1)

Comments: Chad Brown’s $2.3 million purchase added blinkers and finished with energy to overtake Track Phantom and win the Risen Star (G2) by a half length. He will have his final Kentucky Derby prep in the Grade 1 Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland on Saturday, April 6. 

2 – Timberlake (Into Mischief – Pin Up-IRE, by Lookin At Lucky) – Trainer: Brad Cox –  Last Ranking (2)

Comments: He had a good juvenile foundation with five starts in 2023, and captured the Grade 1 Champagne last fall. He breezed five times at Fair Grounds prior to his sophomore debut in the Rebel Stakes (G2) at Oaklawn on Feb. 24, and he stalked the pace while racing wide, swung wider in the stretch, and bested rail-tripper Common Defense by two lengths. This was a solid start to his 3-year-old campaign, and he will go next in the Arkansas Derby (March 30) or Blue Grass (April 6). 

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

Comments: Last year’s Grade 1 Breeders’ Futurity came down with a fever and missed the Sam F. Davis at Tampa Bay on Feb. 10. He recovered quickly and breezed a half-mile in 49.68 (12/24) at Palm Beach Downs on Feb. 16, and worked five panels in 1:01.65 (4/12) on Feb. 24. He is entered in the Grade 2 Fountain of Youth Stakes on Saturday, March 2, and he landed post 8 of 9. 

4 – Fierceness (City of Light – Nonna Bella, by Stay Thirsty) – Trainer: Todd Pletcher – Last Ranking (4)

Comments: He could not have been more impressive in the BC Juvenile (G1), and towered over his rivals on paper in his Holy Bull (G3) return. Hades scooted to the front from the inside post and Fierceness did not have a great start from an outer post. The former swatted away the 2-year-old champ and won by two lengths. Fierceness was best of the rest in third in a below par effort. He returned to the worktab with a half-mile bullet in 48.54 (1/27) on Feb. 23, and the Florida Derby on March 30 is probably his next engagement. 

5 – Dornoch (Good Magic – Puca, by Big Brown) – Trainer: Danny Gargan – Last Ranking (5)

Comments: His nose victory over Sierra Leone looks even better now after that runner returned to capture the Risen Star (G2) in February. This early-pressing Good Magic colt has breezed five times at Palm Meadows this year including a half-mile move in 47.90 (7/90) on Feb. 24. He drew post 5 in the Fountain of Youth (G2) on March 2 and should be all over the pace in that spot. 

6 – Track Phantom (Quality Road – Miss Sunset, by Into Mischief) – Trainer: Steve Asmussen –  Last Ranking (6)

Comments: Epicenter followed the same Derby path for this barn in 2021-22. He won the Gun Runner, was second in the Lecomte (G3), and captured the Risen Star (G2) and Louisiana Derby (G2) prior to landing the place in the Grade 1 Kentucky Derby. This colt won the Gun Runner and Lecomte (G3), and was beaten a half-length in the Risen Star (G2). He will make his next start in the Grade 2 LA Derby at Fair Grounds on March 23.

7 – Conquest Warrior (City of Light – Tea Time, by Pulpit) – Trainer: Shug McGaughey – Last Ranking (7)

Comments: It has been quite some time since his visually impressive maiden win at Gulfstream Park on Jan. 13. He has breezed five times since his maiden win including a 5f bullet in 1:00.60 (1/7) at Gulfstream on Feb. 24. He is entered in the 7th race at Gulfstream on March 1, an optional-claiming event at 1 1/8 miles on dirt.  

8 – Stronghold (Ghostzapper – Spectator, by Jimmy Creed) – Trainer: Phil D’Amato –  Last Ranking (8)

Comments: This one is a consistent performer for Phil D’Amato. He was a close second in the Los Alamitos Futurity (G2), and picked up his first stakes win in the Sunland Park Derby (G3) on Feb. 18. His next Derby points race appearance has not been decided. He is stabled at Santa Anita Park and the SA Derby (G1) is a logical target.  

9 – Liberal Arts (Arrogate – Ismene, by Tribal Rule) – Trainer: Robert Medina –  Last Ranking (9)

Comments: He fired trifecta shots in all three Kentucky Derby points race attempts. I thought his rallying show finish in his Southwest (G3) return was solid. The track was wet and sharp winner Mystik Dan sat a great trip and bounded away in the stretch. This one showed nice late interest and galloped out in front. He has worked twice since the Southwest including a half-mile breeze in 49.40 (4/4) at The Thoroughbred Center in Lexington, Kentucky on Feb. 27. He is training up to the Grade 1 Arkansas Derby on March 30. 

10 – Tuscan Sky (Vino Rosso – South Andros, by Sky Mesa) – Trainer: Todd Pletcher – Last Ranking (10)

Comments: This unbeaten colt will get one chance to qualify for the Derby. He graduated at Aqueduct on Jan. 13 and caught Nash on the Risen Star undercard on Feb. 17. The race that makes the most sense is the Wood Memorial (G2) at Aqueduct on April 6. His trainer Todd Pletcher has won that race six times. 

11 – Nash (Medaglia d’Oro – Sara Louise, by Malibu Moon) – Trainer: Brad Cox –  Last Ranking (11)

Comments: I was expecting more from this one after his outstanding dirt route maiden win at Churchill Downs last November. He was the beaten favorite in the Gun Runner (3rd) and Grade 3 Lecomte (2nd), and made the lead vs. three opponents and lost as the chalk again in an optional-claiming route on the Risen Star undercard. He might be more of a miler and I am not sure what they are going to do next. 

Next Nine – (12) Catching Freedom, (13) Mystic Dan, (14) Resilience, (15) Uncle Heavy, (16) Hades, (17) No More Time, (18) Snead, (19) Speak Easy, (20) Honor Marie