Meet the Contenders: 2024 Louisiana Derby

March 19th, 2024

Meet the horses running in the 2024 Louisiana Derby at Fair Grounds. For each horse, we're listing a pro, a con, and a rating of potential. The star rating of 1 to 5 represents opportunity to perform well. Be sure to follow these contenders by adding them to your Stable Alerts.


Triple Espresso (Photo by Coglianese Photography)

#1 Triple Espresso              **

Pro: Has run exclusively on grass to this point but bred to appreciate dirt more.

Con: Seemingly not quite graded quality yet; cross-entered at Turfway on Saturday.



Hall of Fame (Photo by Hodges Photography)

#2 Hall of Fame                 ****

Pro: Disappointing run in Risen Star (G2) off big maiden win; connections stay positive.

Con: Price will be better this time but might simply be a cut or two below.



Antiquarian (Photo by Hodges Photography)

#3 Antiquarian                  **

Pro: Steps up in class off gutsy maiden win versus next-out winner on Risen Star Day.  

Con: Remains with plenty of upside but must improve considerably in a hurry.



Agate Road (Photo by Coglianese Photography)

#4 Agate Road                   **

Pro: Versatile colt handled dirt well again when second best in Sam F. Davis (G3).

Con: Tampa race was rather slow, chances probably better in Jeff Ruby (G3) on Saturday.



Catching Freedom winning the Smarty Jones S. at Oaklawn Park. (Photo by Coady Photography)

Catching Freedom winning the Smarty Jones S. at Oaklawn Park. (Photo by Coady Photography)

#5 Catching Freedom         ***

Pro: Decent third in the Risen Star after winning two of first three.

Con: Needs to find a bit more to turn the tables on Track Phantom.



Turfway Park Racing (Coady Photo/Turfway Park)

#6 Awesome Ruta              *

Pro: Exceeded expectations with midpack Risen Star finish at 223-1.

Con: Doesn’t look any stronger on paper here than he did last time.



Honor Marie winning the Kentucky Jockey Club (G2) at Churchill Downs (Photo by Coady Photography)

Honor Marie winning the Kentucky Jockey Club (G2) at Churchill Downs (Photo by Coady Photography)

#7 Honor Marie                 ****

Pro: Kentucky Jockey Club (G2) winner likely needed season debut in Risen Star; might improve.

Con: Likely needs a strong pace and that’s no guarantee in this field.



Next Level (Photo by Hodges Photography)

#8 Next Level                    *

Pro: Stoutly bred colt won’t be caught out by the distance.

Con: Appears too slow on paper and last two stakes attempts were poor efforts.



Real Men Violin breaking his maiden at Churchill Downs (Photo by Coady Photography)

Real Men Violin breaking his maiden at Churchill Downs (Photo by Coady Photography)

#9 Real Men Violin             ***

Pro: Kentucky Jockey Club runner-up likely better than what he showed in Risen Star.

Con: Jockey Hernandez opts for McPeek stablemate here; Corey Lanerie rides instead.



Common Defense wins at Oaklawn Park (Photo by Coady Photography)

#10 Common Defense         ***

Pro: Solid try in Rebel (G2) behind the more accomplished Timberlake.

Con: Fear of regression at short price exists, and McPeek barn has struggled here this meet.



Tuscan Gold (Photo by Coglianese Photography / Credit to Lauren King)

#11 Tuscan Gold                  ***

Pro: Fourth to stablemate Sierra Leone first out and cozy maiden winner last time.

Con: Tough spot in which to face winners for the first time.


 


 

Track Phantom wins at Churchill Downs

Track Phantom wins at Churchill Downs (Photo by Coady Photography)

#12 Track Phantom              *****

Pro: Best locally based three-year-old has finished or second in three previous preps.

Con: Fair to question whether speedster will be as effective as distances increase.