Ky Derby update: Catching Freedom, Endlessly among workers

Kentucky Derby update by Churchill Downs’ Kevin Kerstein; Coady Media photo of Catching Freedom’s work

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (Saturday, April 13, 2024) – With only three weeks remaining until the 150th running of the Kentucky Derby presented by Woodford Reserve (Grade I), Albaugh Family Stable’s Catching FreedomAmerman Racing’s EndlesslyLance Gasaway4 G Racing and Valley View Farm’s Mystik Dan; and David BernsenTony and Michael Holmes and Norevale Farm’s Common Defense continued their training towards the “Run for the Roses” with published workouts Saturday morning at Churchill Downs.

          Soon after the track opened at 5:30 a.m. (all times Eastern), Louisiana Derby (GII) winner Catching Freedom was the first Derby contender to work when he went a solo half-mile in :48. A few minutes later, Southwest Stakes (GIII) winner Mystik Dan cruised a half-mile in :48 with jockey Brian Hernandez Jr. in the saddle. Following the 7:30 a.m. track renovation break, Jeff Ruby Steaks (GIII) winner Endlessly breezed a half-mile in :49 inside stablemate Yellow Card and Rebel Stakes (GII) runner-up Common Defense worked an easy half-mile in :49.40.

Video: Catching Freedom’s work; Brad Cox interview

          Catching Freedom, with exercise rider Edvin Vargas in the saddle, worked by himself while clipping early eighth-mile fractions of :11.60 and :23.60. The talented son of Constitution continued his work around the far turn through five furlongs in 1:01 and completed six furlongs in 1:14.60, according to Churchill Downs clocker Adam Wallace.

          “He’s had very steady training the last five, six weeks,” trainer Brad Cox said. “We’ve worked him solo the last couple times and he’s done very well. I’d say the track this morning was a bit heavy but he still got over it fine. His last two works have been fairly easy and we’ll see how things shake out over the next two weeks with what we’ll do before the Derby.”

          Just after Catching Freedom completed his work, the Kenny McPeek trained Mystik Dan began his move. Under Hernandez, who’s been aboard the colt in five of six-career starts, Mystik Dan worked an opening quarter-mile in :24.20 and galloped out five furlongs in a solid 1:00.80. 

          “He ran a credible third last time in the Arkansas Derby,” McPeek said. “I think he got a lot out of that race and has shown he handled it well in his training after.”

          McPeek’s other possible Derby contender, Common Defense, currently needs two defections to make the field of 20.

          At 7:30 a.m., Endlessly, who’s possible to compete in the Kentucky Derby or $600,000 American Turf (GII), worked on the inside of Turfway Park maiden special weight winner Yellow Card. The duo stayed together until the wire when Endlessly began to gain the slight edge while galloping out five furlongs in 1:02.20.

Video of Endlessly’s work

          Several other Kentucky Derby contenders had scheduled training sessions Saturday morning including Fountain of Youth (GII) winner Dornoch and his stablemate, Wood Memorial (GII) runner-up Society Man. Both horses galloped about 1 ½ miles under trainer Danny Gargan’s assistant Pricilla Schaefer

          Also on Saturday, Longines Kentucky Oaks (GI) contenders Tarifa and Thorpedo Anna had published workouts.

          Tarifa, the winner of the Fair Grounds Oaks (GII), worked a half-mile in :48.80 at 7:30 a.m. with exercise rider Alexis Aguilar in the irons. About 90 minutes earlier, Fantasy Stakes (GIII) winner Thorpedo Anna worked a half-mile in :48.20.

          Sunday’s work tab at Churchill Downs is scheduled to include Louisiana Derby (GII) runner-up Honor Marie and Risen Star (GII) runner-up Track Phantom

          Even though the spotlight was on the Kentucky Derby and Oaks contenders breezing Saturday morning at Churchill Downs, before the track opened, around 4 a.m., UAE Derby (GII) winner Forever Young (JPN) arrived to the Kentucky Import Center and could train Sunday morning.

Jennie Rees is a communications and advocacy specialist in the horse industry who spent 32 years covering horse racing for The (Louisville) Courier-Journal before taking a corporate buyout. In addition to handling communications for the Kentucky HBPA, Rees is Kentucky Downs’ publicity director, manages in-season racing publicity for Ellis Park and serves as a consultant to the National HBPA. Other projects include the Preakness Stakes, Indiana Grand’s Indiana Derby Week and work for various HBPA affiliates and horsemen’s associations.