Horse Racing

2024 Louisiana Derby Betting Odds and Contenders Preview

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2024 Louisiana Derby Betting Odds and Contenders Preview

The $1 million Louisiana Derby (G2) marks the end of the Fair Grounds spur of the Kentucky Derby trail, following the Gun Runner, Lecomte (G3), and Risen Star (G2).

The race happens on Saturday, March 23, and 12 horses are entered to go 1 3/16 miles on the Fair Grounds dirt. It is the longest distance of any United States-based prep for the Kentucky Derby, giving horses a chance to prove their stamina and build toward the Derby distance. The top five finishers get Kentucky Derby points: 100-50-25-25-20, meaning the top two finishers likely seal up their bid.

A full field of 12 colts is entered to face the starter. Track Phantom, the 3-1 morning-line favorite, won both the Gun Runner and Lecomte and finished second in the Risen Star Stakes. Other major contenders in this race include Risen Star third-place finisher Catching Freedom, Rebel (G2) second-place finisher Common Defense, and impressive Fair Grounds maiden winner Hall of Fame.

Two horses have won both the Louisiana Derby and the Kentucky Derby: Black Gold (1924) and Grindstone (1996). In 2019, longshot Kentucky Derby winner Country House was fourth in the Louisiana Derby before winning the roses. And, in 2022, Epicenter won the Louisiana Derby en route to second-place finishes in the Kentucky Derby and Preakness.

Louisiana Derby 2024 Information

  • Race Date: Saturday, March 23, 2024
  • Track: Fair Grounds Race Course
  • Post Time: 5:42 p.m. Central Daylight Time
  • Distance: 1 3/16 miles
  • Age/Sex: three-year-olds
  • Where to Watch: FanDuel TV
  • Where to Bet: and FanDuel Racing

Louisiana Derby Odds

This is the official field for the 2024 Louisiana Derby, including post positions, trainers, jockeys, and official morning-line odds for each horse in the field of 12:

ML Odds
1Triple EspressoTodd PletcherLuis Saez20-1
2Hall of FameSteve AsmussenRicardo Santana8-1
3AntiquarianTodd PletcherJohn Velazquez12-1
4Agate RoadTodd PletcherIrad Ortiz, Jr.8-1
5Catching FreedomBrad CoxFlavien Prat4-1
6Awesome RutaJoseph FosterMitchell Murrill30-1
7Honor MarieWhit BechmanBen Curtis8-1
View Full Table

Louisiana Derby Prep Results

As is typical, most of the field is coming out of the Risen Star Stakes. Although winner Sierra Leone does not come back for the Louisiana Derby, six others do, including second-place finisher Track Phantom. Others from the traditional final prep for the Louisiana Derby include third-place Catching Freedom, fifth-place Honor Marie, sixth-place Awesome Ruta, seventh-place Hall of Fame, and eighth-place Real Men Violin.

Three other runners come out of Kentucky Derby points races. A pair last raced in the Rebel at Oaklawn: Common Defense finished second behind winner Timberlake, while Next Level checked in a flat eighth. Agate Road was second in the Sam F. Davis (G3) at Tampa Bay Downs last out, a good first try on the dirt.

One other horse comes out of stakes company, though the race was not a Kentucky Derby prep race. Triple Espresso was most recently fourth behind Abrumar in the Colonel Liam, a mile on the Gulfstream grass.

The last two runners each come out of maiden special weight wins at 1 1/16 miles on the dirt. Tuscan Gold graduated on January 31 at Gulfstream, while Antiquarian broke his maiden on February 17 at Fair Grounds.

Louisiana Derby Contenders

This is the field for the 2024 Louisiana Derby, organized by post position:

Triple Espresso: He comes third off the lay for Todd Pletcher, a good move. He tries dirt for the first time, and has some pedigree to suggest dirt may be his thing. However, there are some serious challenges other than the surface switch. He drew the fence in a full field, which can be a recipe for trip trouble, and the 1 3/16-mile distance could be just a little too much for his pedigree.

Hall of Fame: He dazzled with a ten-length triumph in a maiden race on January 20, but came up flat over the slop in the Risen Star Stakes. If the return to a dry track brings him back to what he showed two back, he has shown he can get a good forward spot and take well to the Fair Grounds dirt. He also has an appealing pedigree for this stretch out in trip. All this suggests that at least finding the frame would not be impossible.

Antiquarian: He takes a serious jump in class here, coming out of a maiden special weight to this final-level Kentucky Derby prep race. However, in a race without a lot of speed except for Track Phantom drawn out in the parking lot, it would be no surprise to see this Todd Pletcher trainee get a cozy spot on or near the lead. With strong big-race connections and a stamina pedigree, he has some price appeal.

Agate Road: He was one of the better American turf juveniles of last year, winning the Pilgrim (G2) and finishing a quality fifth in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf. But, a close and late-gaining second in the Sam F. Davis shows that he can handle dirt, too. He will have to get closer to the pace, but the switch back to Irad Ortiz in the saddle suggests that he may do just that, based on their grass form together.

Catching Freedom: Still fairly lightly raced with just four starts, this Brad Cox trainee was gaining late in the Risen Star Stakes and beaten less than two lengths in all. He has good dry-track form as well, though against good horses, he probably needs both a step up and some pace to chase. He could improve in his third start of the year, and he has stout stamina pedigree, though the pace flow is unlikely to suit his preference.

Awesome Ruta: Sent off at 223-1 in the Risen Star, he outran his odds, finishing sixth of 12. However, he weakened in the lane and never looked like a real threat to the likes of Sierra Leone or Track Phantom. This is a deeper field yet, he has yet to put up a speed figure that suggests he can hang with the best, and he is another whose better form has come with a bit of pace to chase.

Honor Marie: Winner of the Kentucky Jockey Club (G2) last year, he was only fifth in the Risen Star on his seasonal return, but was gaining ground. He has a beautiful stamina pedigree, and the return to fast footing is a plus. And, he has a better chance than many of the closers because instead of just plodding home late, he made an earlier move into a race with a modest-at-best pace when winning the Kentucky Jockey Club.

Next Level: He is Grade 1-placed by virtue of finishing third in a six-horse Del Mar Futurity (G1) last year, but in general, his stakes form has suggested he needs a class break. He has been beaten double-digit lengths in both the Gun Runner and the Rebel. Though he can show some speed, it isn’t quite Track Phantom or even Antiquarian speed, meaning the odds are good that this race will be a rerun of the Rebel.

Real Men Violin: He disappointed in his seasonal debut in the Risen Star despite some sloppy-track form last year. However, trainer Kenny McPeek’s charges tend to do better second off the lay. He has some appealing pedigree for the step up in trip, and several of his races as a juvenile suggest he can get in range of the likely modest pace. This gives him appeal as an exotics long shot.

Common Defense: Another from the Kenny McPeek barn, he took a real step up on a fast track in the Rebel, compared to his flat fifth in the muddy Southwest. He tracked in close range of a modest pace that day, a kind of trip that can suit him well this time around, too. The wider gate is a concern, though he reunites with Brian Hernandez, who has found his form at Fair Grounds.

Tuscan Gold: He cedes experience to most of this field, coming in off a maiden victory in January at Gulfstream and stepping straight into a Kentucky Derby prep race. He was able to close into a modest pace over the often speed-friendly Gulfstream course, which is a point in his favor. And, he has an appealing distance pedigree, being by Medaglia d’Oro out of classy Curlin daughter Valadorna. However, being trained by Chad Brown, he has a good chance of being way overbet.

Track Phantom: The major problem is the post position, as far-outside posts do not tend to be excellent in routes at Fair Grounds. The one saving grace is, relatively speaking, the lack of speed: barring a change in tactics, there won’t be a lot of competition up front except for possibly Antiquarian. However, he also still has to answer the distance question. In short, he would not be a surprise, but he will be an underlay.

Louisiana Derby Past Winners Past Performances

The Risen Star is king of the prep races for the Louisiana Derby. In the last ten years, six of the winners of the Louisiana Derby came out of the second-to-last of Fair Grounds’ Kentucky Derby prep races. All ran well, though not all won. International Star (2015), Gun Runner (2016), Girvin (2017), and Epicenter (2022) took top honors, whereas Vicar’s In Trouble (2014) and Noble Indy (2018) ran third.

It is worth noting that no horse in the last ten years has come straight from the Lecomte, or even a Fair Grounds race on Lecomte day, to win the Louisiana Derby. Though By My Standards (2019) came from a maiden race at Fair Grounds to win the race, that maiden win came on the Risen Star undercard.

Just three of the last ten winners of the Louisiana Derby did not last run at Fair Grounds. Two of them came out of Kentucky Derby points races: Wells Bayou (2020) had finished second in the Southwest (G3) at Oaklawn, and Hot Rod Charlie (2021) was third in the Robert B. Lewis. Kingsbarns (2023) came out of an allowance win at Tampa Bay Downs about a month and a half before the Louisiana Derby.

Louisiana Derby Undercard

The Louisiana Derby is the 12th and final race on Saturday’s card at Fair Grounds, and the last of eight stakes scheduled for the day. Kentucky Oaks bound fillies take center stage in the $400,000 Fair Grounds Oaks (G2), handicap males contest the New Orleans Classic (G2), and older turf horses take the spotlight in the Muniz Memorial Classic (G2).

Ungraded stakes include the $100,000 Tom Benson Memorial for older turf fillies and mares, as well as three undercard events for Louisiana-bred horses. With big fields and class company all day long, it is a perfect time to watch FanDuel TV all day long and place your bets with FanDuel and TVG!

Fair Grounds History

The first races at what was then the Louisiana Race Course were organized by Bernard de Marigny and others in 1839 and 1839. It was reopened as Union Race Course in 1852 but closed after five years because the nearby Metairie Course proved more popular at the time. It was renamed yet again in 1859 as the Creole Race Course, then was first given the name Fair Grounds in 1963. It continued to host racing during the Civil War.

That was not the end of the closing and opening of the course, though. It closed again after the Civil War when Metairie reopened. Still, some members of the Metairie Jockey Club broke away, re-formed the Louisiana Jockey Club, and restarted racing at Fair Grounds in 1872.

Racing was banned in New Orleans in 1908, though it returned in 1915. Though the track was in jeopardy after being sold to developers in 1940, racing-minded investors saved the track from certain destruction in 1941 and ensured horse racing would continue after World War II.

A stable period followed, and in 1981, the turf course was laid, and then the facility was sold in 1990. Following a devastating fire, a new grandstand had to be built in 1994 at a cost of $27 million, a grand reopening taking place on Thanksgiving Day 1997.

Although further damaged by Hurricane Katrina, another Thanksgiving Day reopening occurred in 2006, and since then, the track has run on an even keel and remains popular with traditional racegoers.

Louisiana Derby FAQ

Q: When is the Louisiana Derby?

A: The 2024 Louisiana Derby happens Saturday, March 23, at 5:42 p.m. Central Daylight Time. It is the 12th and final race on the card at Fair Grounds.

Q: Where is the Louisiana Derby?

A: It takes place at Fair Grounds Race Course in New Orleans, Louisiana.

Q: Which trainer has the most wins in the Louisiana Derby?

A: Todd Pletcher leads all trainers with five wins. He won it in 2007, 2010, 2013, 2018, and 2023. In 2024, he brings Triple Espresso, Antiquarian, and Agate Road in 2024.

Q: Who is the favorite for the 2024 Louisiana Derby?

A: Track Phantom is the 3-1 morning-line favorite after wins in the Gun Runner and Lecomte, and a close second behind Sierra Leone in the Risen Star. The star of the Louisiana series of Kentucky Derby prep races, he should hold as the favorite come post time for jockey Joel Rosario and trainer Steve Asmussen.

Q: Who is the best Louisiana Derby jockey?

A: The now-retired jockey Pat Day rode the winner five times. Among jockeys with a horse in the 2024 edition of the race, Joel Rosario has been in strong recent form with wins on Hot Rod Charlie (2021) and Epicenter (2022). Rosario gets the call on Track Phantom.

Q: Who won the 2023 Louisiana Derby?

A: Kingsbarns, trained by Todd Pletcher and ridden by Flavien Prat, won the 2023 Louisiana Derby. Pletcher returns with Triple Espresso, Antiquarian, and Agate Road; Prat does not ride the race this year.

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