Catching Freedom wins $1 million Louisiana Derby, qualifies for the Kentucky Derby

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Catching Freedom stormed from last to first to win the $1 million Louisiana Derby by nearly a length on Saturday, earning the Brad Cox-trained horse enough Kentucky Derby qualifying points to enter the opening race of the Triple Crown.

Catching Freedom trailed the other 10 horses in the field entering the final turn before jockey Flavien Prat steered him to the outside and past the entire field down the stretch at the Fair Grounds Race Course.

“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," Cox said. “He needed pretty much the entire stretch to get there and I am very proud of the effort.”

Catching Freedom ran the 1 3/16-mile race distance in 1:56.16 and paid $8.60, $4.40 and $3.20. He also earned 100 Kentucky Derby qualifying points.

“We’ll make sure he is happy and healthy. We’ll ship him up to Churchill,” Cox said. "Hopefully he can have a great six weeks and a big run the first Saturday in May.”

Honor Marie finished second and paid $6.40 and 4.40 and earned 50 qualifying points. Tuscan Gold, an 11-1 long shot, was third with Tyler Gaffalione aboard and paid $7.60 and earned 25 points.

“This colt is still learning. He’s got a lot of natural ability," Gaffalione said. "My question coming into the race was seasoning. He had a couple hiccups in the race, but definitely a lot of room to improve and I think he has a bright future.”

Post-time 2-1 favorite Track Phantom, the Lecomte Stakes winner, broke into the lead kept it for most of the race distance before fading to fourth down the stretch. Still, he earned 15 points on top of his 30 points from his victory in the 1 1/16-mile Lecomte.

“He ran very nice out there. I don’t know if it was the distance," Track Phantom jockey Joel Rosario said. "It looked like it was a comfortable pace. He was relaxed and he gave me a kick, but the others came strong at the end. Sometimes it’s hard to tell, but maybe he got tired at the end.”

Common Defense earned 10 points for a fifth-place finish.

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