Just a Touch – Kentucky Derby Context

April 22nd, 2024

A late-developing colt, Just a Touch impressively captured his career debut over a sloppy track at Fair Grounds in late January and followed with a good second in the Gotham (G3) at Aqueduct in the slop. The Blue Grass (G1) at Keeneland marked his first start at two turns and a fast track, and Just a Touch chased a fast pace in second until surging to the lead in upper stretch, taking a clear advantage with a sixteenth of a mile remaining. He could not withstand the fast-charging Sierra Leone, but the bay sophomore held well for second. His tactical ability may bode well in the 20-horse Kentucky Derby (G1) field, the up-and-comer will look to settle just off the early leaders, and Just a Touch’s progressing form adds to the appeal. He’s a candidate to keep moving forward on May 4.

Owner: Just a Touch will be the first Kentucky Derby starter for Qatar Racing (Sheikh Fahad al Thani), Resolute Racing (John Stewart), and Marc Detampel.

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 Louisiana Derby (G2) winner Catching Freedom and Lexington (G3) winner Encino in the field.

Jockey: Probably best known as the regular rider of 2017 Horse of the Year Gun Runner, Florent Geroux finished third aboard Gun Runner when making his first Kentucky Derby appearance in 2016. He won the 2021 Kentucky Derby on Mandaloun via disqualification, and Geroux owns an overall 7-1-0-1 record. The 37-year-old started his riding career in his native France, moving his tack to the United States in 2007, 

Breeder/Sales: Bred in Kentucky by Don Alberto Corporation, Just a Touch will be the second Kentucky Derby runner as breeder for the Chile-based outfit, which was also responsible for third-placer Mr. Big News in 2020. Just a Touch passed through the auction ring three times, eventually selling for $300,000 at last year’s OBS April two-year-old sale.

Sire: The only Triple Crown winner to retire undefeated, Justify proved to be an immediate success at stud at Coolmore’s Ashford Stud in Versailles, Ky., throwing graded stakes winners on all surfaces and distances, and Just a Touch is from the second crop of the in-demand stallion. By Scat Daddy, who hails from the Storm Cat sire line, Justify also will be represented by Arkansas Derby (G1) runner-up Just Steel in this year’s field.

Dam: Just a Touch is the second stakes-placed foal from the Grade 3-winning Touching Beauty, a daughter of Tapit, the sire of four Belmont winners. As a broodmare sire, Tapit is responsible for last year’s Belmont winner Arcangelo and Kentucky Oaks (G1) winner Pretty Mischievous.

Top Brisnet Speed: 100
Top Brisnet Late Pace: 95