Catching Freedom – Kentucky Derby Context

April 18th, 2024

After being cut off a couple of strides out of the gate, Catching Freedom dropped back to last and offered a dynamic closing kick to win the 1 3/16-mile Louisiana Derby (G2) at Fair Grounds by a length. The bay colt made his stakes debut a winning one in the Smarty Jones at Oaklawn on New Year’s Day but registered only an 89 Brisnet Speed rating for the 2 3/4-length decision. Catching Freedom continued to show more in the Risen Star (G2) six weeks later, rallying to be a close third to Sierra Leone, and registered a commendable 100 Speed figure in the final prep. His progressing form offers appeal, longer distances appear to be no obstacle, and Catching Freedom will look to offer a serious win challenge with another forward move in the 150th Kentucky Derby (G1).

Owner: Based in Des Moines, Iowa, Albaugh Family Stables is operated by Dennis Albaugh and his son-in-law Jason Loutsch. Their first appearance came in 2016, and Angel of Empire’s third in 2023 is the best result from a total of six Kentucky Derby starters (including two campaigned in partnership). 

Trainer: Brad Cox grew up near Churchill Downs and has developed into one of the world’s top trainers, opening his own stable in 2004 after working for Jimmy Baker, Burk Kessinger, and Dallas Stewart. Two-time champion Monomoy Girl, winner of the 2018 Kentucky Oaks (G1), helped bring him national attention, and Cox finished first and third with his first two Kentucky Derby starters, Mandaloun and Essential Quality, who were elevated one spot via disqualification in 2021, and the latter came back to capture the Belmont (G1). The two-time Eclipse Award-winning trainer brings an 8-1-0-2 record into his fourth Kentucky Derby appearance, and 44-year-old Cox also has Blue Grass (G1) runner-up Just a Touch and Lexington (G3) winner Encino in the Kentucky Derby field.

Jockey: Winner of the 2019 Kentucky Derby aboard Country House, Flavien Prat has compiled a stellar 6-1-1-3 record since making his first start in 2017, winning or placing in his last four Kentucky Derby starts. The 31-year-old achieved early success in his native France, and Prat moved his tack permanently to the United States in 2015. A winner of numerous jockey titles at Del Mar and Santa Anita, Prat is perhaps best known as the rider of undefeated Horse of the Year Flightline, and he also guided Rombauer to an upset in the 2021 Preakness (G1).

Breeder/Sales: Bred in Kentucky by WinStar Farm (Kenny Troutt), Catching Freedom sold for $575,000 as a yearling at the 2022 Keeneland September sale. WinStar bred Kentucky Derby winners Funny Cide (2003) and Super Saver (2010), compiling an overall 10-2-1-0 record as a breeder, and the Versailles, Kentucky farm campaigned Super Saver and Triple Crown hero Justify (2018), the latter in partnership. Elliott Walden, who trained Victory Gallop and Menifee to back-to-back seconds in the Kentucky Derby (1998-99), serves as President/CEO and Racing Manager of WinStar.

Sire: Multiple Grade 1-winning millionaire Constitution opened his racing career with three consecutive wins, establishing himself as a top contender for the 2014 Kentucky Derby by capturing the Florida Derby (G1), but he was forced to miss the spring classics, heading to the sidelines for a lengthy absence. A son of four-time Belmont (G1)-winning sire Tapit, Constitution stands at WinStar and Catching Freedom is from his fifth crop. He’s the sire of 2020 Belmont winner and Kentucky Derby runner-up Tiz the Law.

Dam: Catching Freedom is the first stakes winner out of the stakes-winning Catch My Drift, who has also produced a pair of multiple stakes-placed runners, Bishops Bay and Strava. She is a daughter of 2009 Kentucky Derby runner-up Pioneerof the Nile, who is best known as the sire of 2015 Triple Crown winner American Pharoah.

Top Brisnet Speed: 100
Top Brisnet Late Pace: 101