Catching Freedom Upsets Track Phantom, Wins Louisiana Derby

Catching Freedom | Hodges Photography


Eyeballing the quarter pole in Saturday's GII Louisiana Derby, it may have seemed that the Albaugh Family's Catching Freedom (Constitution) had far too much to do to even get a piece of it. However, what seemed like a foregone conclusion to some proved nothing more than a fleeting illusion as the colt closed by leaps and bounds to get up just in time to win by 1 1/4 lengths, earning 100 Kentucky Derby points in the process.

Breaking from the 12 hole, GIII Lecomte S. scorer Track Phantom (Quality Road) was ushered to the front as Common Defense (Karakontie {Jpn}) prompted him through opening splits of :23.49 and :48.33 as Catching Freedom lingered at the back under an unhurried Flavien Prat. Starting to gain ground while several paths wide approaching the final turn, he was fanned out no less than seven paths wide as the field constricted up front. Closing with purpose down the center of the track, he put his head in front in the stages before drawing clear to put himself squarely in the Kentucky Derby picture. Last season's

GII Kentucky Jockey Club victor Honor Marie (Honor Code) got up for second while Tuscan Gold (Medaglia d'Oro) completed the trifecta.

“I didn't know what to make of it early on, being so far back and with not much pace, but Flavien did a great job of letting him inch up,” said winning trainer Brad Cox, who also won the Fair Grounds Oaks with Tarifa. “He needed pretty much the entire stretch to get there. I am very proud of the effort. We'll make sure he is happy and healthy. We'll ship him up to Churchill; he broke his maiden there, so he knows the place. Hopefully, he can have a great six weeks and a big run the first Saturday in May.”

Starting things off the right way, the $575,000 Keeneland September buy came from off the pace to triumph by 1 3/4 lengths going a mile at Churchill Downs in October before returning to finish fourth while adding a sixteenth at that venue Nov. 9. Favored to regain the winning thread next time in the Jan. 1 Smart Jones S., the bay obliged with a 2 1/2-length win over Just Steel. Let go at 5-1 in a sloppy edition of the GII Risen Star S. Feb. 17, he finished third behind Sierra Leone (Gun Runner) and Track Phantom.

Pedigree Notes:
Catching Freedom is the 31st graded winner for WinStar's Constitution, whose 64 black-type winners worldwide in just five crops have repeatedly kept him at or near the top of his contemporaries on the sire lists. The son of Tapit finished 2023 as the leading fifth-crop sire by stakes winners and went into the Louisiana Derby ranked in the current year's top dozen North American-based sires–regardless of number of crops–by earnings.

While Catching Freedom is Constitution's second stakes winner out a Pioneerof the Nile mare, Constitution has an additional two stakes winners–both graded–out of mares by Pioneerof the Nile's sire, Empire Maker, and a number of others out of daughters of at least two other sons of Unbridled. The late Pioneerof the Nile, who also stood at WinStar, has 13 black-type winners out of his daughters.

Catch My Drift, a stakes winner at Saratoga who finished third in the 2015 GI Beldame S. at Belmont Park, was a $400,000 purchase by WinStar at the 2015 Fasig-Tipton November sale. The mare produced two stakes performers prior to Catching Freedom: last year's GIII Peter Pan S. and GIII Ohio Derby runner-up Bishops Bay (Uncle Mo), also a 'TDN Rising Star', and MSP Strava (Into Mischief), who was an $825,000 Keeneland November weanling. She has a juvenile filly by Improbable named Indeed, who sold to Centennial Farms at Fasig-Tipton Saratoga for $385,000, and a yearling filly by Not This Time.


Saturday, Fair Grounds
TWINSPIRES.COM LOUISIANA DERBY-GII, $1,000,000, Fair Grounds, 3-23, 3yo, 1 3/16m, 1:56.16, ft.
1–CATCHING FREEDOM, 122, c, 3, by Constitution
                1st Dam: Catch My Drift (SW & GISP, $280,540),
                                by Pioneerof the Nile
                2nd Dam: Drift to the Lead, by Yonaguska
                3rd Dam: Drifa, by Tabasco Cat
1ST GRADED STAKES WIN. ($575,000 Ylg '22 KEESEP).
O-Albaugh Family Stables LLC; B-WinStar Farm, LLC (KY);
T-Brad H. Cox; J-Flavien Prat. $600,000. Lifetime Record:
5-3-0-1, $877,350. *1/2 to Strava (Into Mischief), MSP,
$378,010 and Bishops Bay (Uncle Mo), MGSP, $212,600.
Werk Nick Rating: A++.
Click for the eNicks report & 5-cross pedigree.
Click for the free catalogue-style pedigree.
2–Honor Marie, 122, c, 3, Honor Code–Dame Marie, by Smart
Strike. ($40,000 Ylg '22 KEESEP). O-Ribble Farms LLC, Michael
Eiserman, Earl Silver, Kenneth Fishbein and Daniel Fishbein;
B-Royce Pulliam (KY); T-D. Whitworth Beckman. $200,000.
3–Tuscan Gold, 122, c, 3, Medaglia d'Oro–Valadorna, by Curlin.
($600,000 Ylg '22 KEESEP). O-William Lawrence, Walmac Farm
and Stonestreet Stables LLC; B-Stonestreet Thoroughbred
Holdings LLC (KY); T-Chad C. Brown. $100,000.
Margins: 1, 3/4, 3/4. Odds: 3.30, 7.80, 11.20.
Also Ran: Track Phantom, Common Defense, Antiquarian, Agate Road, Next Level, Awesome Ruta, Hall of Fame, Real Men Violin. Scratched: Triple Espresso.
Click for the chart and the PPs. VIDEO, sponsored by FanDuel TV.

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