Kentucky Derby 2024 Update (3-19-24)

Churchill Downs paddock
Churchill Downs photo by Jarrod Horak

By Jarrod Horak

The road to Kentucky Derby 2024 was idle last weekend, and things really pick up steam with the Grade 2 Louisiana Derby at Fair Grounds and the Grade 3 Jeff Ruby Steaks at Turfway Park on March 23. The winners of those races will pick up 100 Derby points, and 50 points will be offered to the place finishers. 

In other Derby news, my original top ranked Derby contender Nash is off the list. He managed to accumulate 13 Derby points with a show finish in the Gun Runner and a runner-up finish in the Grade 3 Lecomte. He failed to run back to his fast maiden route win in three subsequent starts and is no longer on the Derby trail. He is entered in the Hot Springs Stakes at Oaklawn on March 23, and that one-mile race could end up being a Preakness prep. 

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)

Fountain of Youth (50-25-15-10-5) – March 2 – Winner: Dornoch ($2.40)

Gotham (50-25-15-10-5) – March 2 – Winner: Deterministic ($9.80)

John Battaglia Memorial (20-10-6-4-2) – March 2 – Winner: Encino ($13.38)

San Felipe (50-25-15-10-5) – March 2 – Winner: Imagination ($3.80) 

Tampa Bay Derby (50-25-15-10-5) – March 9 – Winner: Domestic Product (non-wagering event)

Upcoming Points Races:

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 26 Kentucky Derby 2024 Points Leaders (thru 3-19-24)

Timberlake (66 points)

Dornoch, Domestic Product (60 points)

Sierra Leone, Track Phantom (55 points)

Deterministic (50 points)

No More Time (45 points)

Fierceness (36 points)

El Grande O (30 points)

Common Defense (27 points)

Stronghold, Catching Freedom, Le Dom Bro, Just a Touch (25 points)

Mystik Dan (21 points)

Hades, Uncle Heavy, Encino (20 points)

Liberal Arts, Mc Vay (19 points)

Northern Flame (18 points)

West Saratoga (17 points)

Scatify (16 points)

Just Steel, Honor Marie, Grand Mo the First (15 points)

Jarrod Horak’s “Exceptional Eleven” Kentucky Derby 2024 Contenders (3-19-24)

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

Comments: The early Kentucky Derby favorite has been my top ranked Derby contender since Feb. 6. He just missed in the Grade 2 Remsen at Aqueduct, and that was the most productive points race last year. He was strong from off the pace in the Risen Star (G2) in his sophomore debut on Feb. 17. He has breezed three since his last start. The Gun Runner colt worked a half-mile in 49 flat on March 2 and March 9, and went 4f in 48.60 on March 16. He has been targeting the Grade 1 Blue Grass at Keeneland on April 6 for several weeks. 

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

Comments: He captured the Grade 1 Champagne last fall, and opened up his 3-year-old campaign with a popular victory in the Rebel Stakes (G2) victory on Feb. 24. He returned to the worktab with a half-mile breeze in 48.40 (5/73) at Fair Grounds on March 8, and went 5f in 1:02 (18/30) on March 15. He will make his next start in the Arkansas Derby (March 30) or Blue Grass (April 6).  

3 – Fierceness (City of Light – Nonna Bella, by Stay Thirsty) – Trainer: Todd Pletcher – Last Ranking (3)

Comments: The 2-year-old champ was a bland third in the Holy Bull in his first start as a 3-year-old. He did not have the best start that day, and his other loss in the Champagne (G1) was caused by a less than ideal beginning. He has breezed four times at Palm Beach Downs since his last start including a 5f move in 1:01.03 (3/10) on March 15. The Grade 1 Florida Derby on March 30 is his next engagement.  

4 – Track Phantom (Quality Road – Miss Sunset, by Into Mischief) – Trainer: Steve Asmussen –  Last Ranking (4)

Comments: The Gun Runner and Lecomte (G3) winner set the pace and missed by a half-length in the Risen Star (G2) on Feb. 17. He breezed 5f in 1:02.60 (19/28) on March 3, and worked 5f in 1:01.60 (25/42) on March 16. He drew post 12 in the Grade 2 Louisiana Derby on March 23, and he is probably the one to catch in the 1 3/16 miles event. 

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

Comments: He has captured three consecutive races including the Remsen (G2) and Fountain of Youth (G2). The race flow was in his favor in both of his stakes wins. The track was wet and speed favoring in the Remsen, and he was one of seven front running winners at Aqueduct that day. In the Fountain of Youth, his main rivals scratched and he controlled the pace. He got back to work with a half-mile breeze in 49.85 (54.92) at Palm Meadows on March 16, and he will go next in the Florida Derby (March 30) or Blue Grass (April 6).    

6 – Conquest Warrior (City of Light – Tea Time, by Pulpit) – Trainer: Shug McGaughey – Last Ranking (6)

Comments: Shug McGaughey’s late bloomer might be getting good at the right time. He won his last two starts at Gulfstream Park. After overcoming trouble to graduate on Jan. 13, he easily handled 1/18 miles vs. optional claiming foes on March 1. He worked a half-mile in 50 flat on March 11, and drilled a 5f bullet in 1:01 (1/6) on March 16. He will make his stakes debut in the Grade 1 Florida Derby on March 30.

7 – Stronghold (Ghostzapper – Spectator, by Jimmy Creed) – Trainer: Phil D’Amato –  Last Ranking (7)

Comments: He settled for the place in the Bob Hope (G3) and Los Alamitos Futurity (G2), and became Ghostzapper’s 100th stakes winner in the Sunland Park Derby (G3) on Feb. 18. He has worked three this month including back-to-back 5f moves in 1:00.60 at Santa Anita on March 11 and March 18. 

8 – Liberal Arts (Arrogate – Ismene, by Tribal Rule) – Trainer: Robert Medina –  Last Ranking (8)

Comments: In a trio of Kentucky Derby points race appearances, he was third in the Iroquois (G3), first in the Street Sense (G3), and third in the Southwest (G3) on Feb. 3. He has worked five times at The Thoroughbred Center in Lexington, Kentucky since the Southwest including back-to-back bullets on March 4 and March 11. He goes next in the Grade 1 Arkansas Derby on March 30. 

9 – Tuscan Sky (Vino Rosso – South Andros, by Sky Mesa) – Trainer: Todd Pletcher – Last Ranking (9)

Comments: He is a perfect 2-for-2 this year. The son of Vino Rosso graduated in his Aqueduct debut on Jan. 13, and shipped to Fair Grounds and defeated Nash in an optional-claiming race on Feb. 17. He has breezed three times this month at Palm Beach Downs including a 5f move in 1:01.03 (3/10) on March 15. This one will probably run in the Blue Grass or Wood Memorial on April 6. 

10 – Deterministic (Liam’s Map – Giulio’s Jewel, by Speightstown) – Trainer: Christophe Clement – Last Ranking (11)

Comments: He overcame a less than ideal trip to capture his seven panel bow at Saratoga last summer. He disappeared for more than half a year and earned enough points to run in the Kentucky Derby in a stalk and pounce victory in the Gotham (G3). Christophe Clement’s lightly raced colt has upside and has done nothing wrong. We will learn more about him in his next start around two turns in the Arkansas Derby (March 30), Blue Grass (April 6), or Wood Memorial (April 6). 

11 – Domestic Product (Practical Joke – Goods and Services, by Paynter) – Trainer: Chad Brown –  Last Ranking (15)

Comments: Chad Brown’s Practical Joke colt has come a long way since stalking the pace and fading in the Remsen (G2) last year. He rallied for the place in the Holy Bull (G3) on Feb. 3, and stalked and scored in the Tampa Bay Derby (G3) on March 9. Both starts this year had slow early/fast late race shapes. He has accumulated enough points to run in the Kentucky Derby, but Brown wants to give him another race. His next start could occur in the Blue Grass or Wood Memorial on April 6. It is possible that he might be more of a Preakness horse, and we will find out more about him in his final Derby prep. 

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