Track Phantom – Kentucky Derby Context

April 18th, 2024

Track Phantom broke his maiden when stretching out to two turns at Churchill Downs last fall and followed with convincing wins in the Gun Runner S. and Lecomte (G3) at Fair Grounds, establishing himself as a legitimate Kentucky Derby (G1) contender. The frontrunning bay stepped up in distance and competition for the next two starts, finishing a close second to Sierra Leone in the 1 1/8-mile Risen Star (G2) and fourth in the Louisiana Derby (G2). Those performances call into question his threshold for longer distances, and Track Phantom will be a longshot in the 150th Kentucky Derby, but the battle-tested sophomore will add blinkers and his tactical ability has proved to be an asset for classy colts in previous runnings. 

Owner: L and N Racing (Lee Levinson), Clark Brewster, Jerry Caroom, and Breeze Easy (Mike Hall) campaign Track Phantom. This will be the second Kentucky Derby starter for L and N Racing, who owned 2017 runner-up Lookin At Lee, and the first for Brewster, Caroom, and Breeze Easy.

Trainer: North America’s all-time leading trainer by wins, Hall of Famer Steve Asmussen has been close on several occasions, saddling Epicenter (2023), Lookin At Lee (2017), and Nehro (2011) to runner-up efforts, but the 58-year-old conditioner is still seeking his first Kentucky Derby win. He finished third with Gun Runner (2016) and Curlin (2007), the latter providing Asmussen with the first of two Preakness (G1) winners, and Creator won the 2016 Belmont (G1) for him. In fact, Asmussen has captured nearly every major U.S. dirt stakes except the Kentucky Derby, recording a 25-0-3-2 mark, and has won a pair of Eclipse Awards for leading trainer so far. Raised in Texas, Asmussen’s brother Cash was a successful jockey, winning an Eclipse Award stateside and numerous important races in Europe, and Steve’s son Keith will make his first Kentucky Derby start as a jockey aboard Just Steel this year.

Jockey: Joel Rosario finished fourth aboard his first Kentucky Derby starter, Make Music for Me in 2010, and guided Orb to a rallying win in the 2013. From the Dominican Republic, the 39-year-old also rode 2022 runner-up Epicenter, compiling an overall 12-1-1-0 record in the Kentucky Derby, and Rosario earned the Eclipse Award for leading jockey in 2021.

Breeder/Sales: Mike Hall’s Breeze Easy bred Track Phantom in Kentucky and retained an ownership interest after the colt sold as a yearling for $500,000 at the 2022 Keeneland September sale. This will be the first Kentucky Derby starter for Breeze Easy as a breeder.

Sire: A leading contender for the 2009 Kentucky Derby after convincing wins in the Florida Derby (G1) and Fountain of Youth (G2), Quality Road was forced to miss the Triple Crown, but he came back to add the Met Mile (G1), Woodward (G1), and Donn (G1) as a four-year-old. By Elusive Quality, sire of 2004 Kentucky Derby and Preakness (G1) winner Smarty Jones, Quality Road was represented by his first Triple Crown race winner in 2023, Preakness victor National Treasure, and he’s also responsible for 2020 Belmont runner-up Dr Post. Track Phantom is from his 10th crop, and the top-class stallion stands at Lane’s End Farm in Versailles, Ky.

Dam: A nine-time stakes winner, including the 2017 Raven Run (G2), California-bred Miss Sunset is by five-time reigning leading sire Into Mischief, and Track Phantom is her first stakes winner as a broodmare. Into Mischief is the sire of Kentucky Derby winners Authentic (2020) and Mandaloun (2021). He’s still a relatively new broodmare sire, but 2023 Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) winner White Abarrio is out of a mare by Into Mischief.

Top Brisnet Speed: 97
Top Brisnet Late Pace: 95