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Kentucky Derby 2024 Latest News & Top 5 | Timberlake, Forever Young Win
Timberlake (Justin Manning/Eclipse Sportswire/CSM)

Kentucky Derby 2024 Latest News & Top 5 | Timberlake, Forever Young Win

Where does Timberlake rank as a Kentucky Derby (G1) contender after winning the Rebel Stakes (G2) at Oaklawn Park? How about the Saudi Derby (G3) champion Forever Young?

Aaron explains in the latest news & updates heading into this week’s 4 prep races: the Fountain of Youth (G2), the San Felipe (G2), the Gotham (G3), & the John Battaglia.

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1. Sierra Leone

Pros: Tremendous turn of foot; has lots of room to improve

Cons: Running style could be troubling; numbers still low

Outlook: We have a new number one for now after this horse stormed home to win the Risen Star Stakes (G2) despite a slow pace. There is no doubt in my mind that this horse will get better in his next start, as we’ve seen Chad Brown do this in the past. His turn of foot is pretty fun to watch.

2. Dornoch

Pros: Getting better with each race; solid foundation

Cons: Seems to be a bit green and needs to figure things out

Outlook: The Remsen Stakes (G2) winner improved with each race last year while also stretching out in distance. He is a bit immature, but the Remsen runner-up Sierra Leone winning his first race as a 3-year-old flatters this horse. We’ll see him this weekend in the Fountain of Youth Stakes (G2).

3. Track Phantom

Pros: Extremely consistent; solid running style

Cons: Might not be improve at a rapid enough rate, which leads to slow figures

Outlook: He ran well in defeat in the Risen Star Stakes (G2), finish second behind our top-ranked horse. His consistency and running style are going to make him tough to beat no matter who he faces; however, as some point, this horse is going to have to start improving his numbers.

4. Mystik Dan

Pros: 101 Beyer for winning the Southwest Stakes (G3)

Cons: Inconsistent; best race was in the slop

Outlook: His Southwest Stakes win was among the most impressive that we’ve seen so far from Kentucky Derby-eligible horses. However, it was in the slop at Oaklawn Park – how much did that move him up? He had never run a race even close to that before, but he deserves to be ranked highly until he proves otherwise.

5. Catching Freedom

Pros: Back to back solid prep efforts; solid trainer

Cons: Still runs fairly green down the lane; running style; low numbers

Outlook: He backed up his Smarty Jones Stakes win with a solid effort in the Risen Star Stakes (G2), though he still had trouble running straight down the lane. If they can get that figured out, then he might be ok, but that immaturity will always cost him when he faces top horses.

6. Locked

Pros: Grade 1 winner; great distance pedigree

Cons: Come-from-behind running style; third in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile

Outlook: He should get better as the distances get longer this year and trainer Todd Pletcher is a master at spotting his horse on the Kentucky Derby Trail. A minor setback forced him to miss the Sam F. Davis Stakes (G3), but he is set to make his next start in the Fountain of Youth Stakes (G2) this weekend.

7. Timberlake

Pros: Solid class; grade 1 winner; nice 3-year-old debut

Cons: Longer distances are in question

Outlook: He faced a weak group in the Rebel Stakes (G2); however, he beat them fairly easily, which was good to see. This horse seemed to improve a bit off of his 2-year-old races and is trending in the right direction.

8. Fierceness

Pros: 105 Beyer is top amongst this group

Cons: Incredibly inconsistent; can’t pass horses

Outlook: He put up another head-scratcher in the Holy Bull Stakes (G3), finishing a well-beaten third. At this point, he looks like a horse that needs the lead to win, which is obviously a problem. This horse just doesn’t want to pass other horses.

9. Forever Young

Pros: Undefeated with 4 straight impressive victories

Cons: International horses are always a mystery

Outlook: The hype on this horse is massive, while he ran good enough to get the job done last time out in the Saudi Derby. We’ll know more about him in his next start, which will be in Dubai in the UAE Derby. The international horses are always a mystery, though, so we’ll see if he is finally the one that can break the mold.

10. Tuscan Sky

Pros: Two solid wins in a row

Cons: Lightly raced and behind from a timing prospective

Outlook: Even though he only had to beat basically one horse, his allowance win at Fair Grounds was very impressive. He earned a 95 beyer for the win, which is 5 points higher than the winner of the Risen Star Stakes (G2). He’ll be in a prep next for sure.

11. Conquest Warrior

Pros: Should get better with longer distances; solid trainer

Cons: Numbers are low; only a maiden special weight winner

Outlook: Despite a horrible trip, he still got the job done at Gulfstream Park in what looked to be a tough maiden special weight. He should get better when they stretch out in distance. There is NO WAY that he gets a worse trip than he did in his last start… right? We’ll see him again this weekend in an allowance race.

12. Speak Easy

Pros: Ultra-impressive debut win

Cons: Late to the game; still has plenty of proving to do

Outlook: This Todd Pletcher trainee was very impressive on debut when crushing a maiden special weight group on Pegasus World Cup day. Last year, Mage debuted in that race before eventually winning the Kentucky Derby – can he do the same? We’ll see him this weekend in the Fountain of Youth Stakes (G2).

13. Hades

Pros: Undefeated; solid early speed

Cons: Low speed figures

Outlook: He was able to fend off Fierceness to win the Holy Bull Stakes (G3), but it was the slowest running of the Holy Bull ever at the 1 1/16-mile distance. He still needs to take a step forward.

14. Stronghold

Pros: Impressive Sunland Derby (G3) win

Cons: Numbers are still pretty slow

Outlook: His Sunland Derby win should have earned him enough points to make the Kentucky Derby gate. However, he’ll need to keep improving if he hopes to contend.

15. Just Steel

Pros: Consistent; will get several chances to run

Cons: Speed figures our low; lacks finishing kick

Outlook: It seems like he might be this year’s horse that is always around at the end but can’t quite finish the deal in a Derby prep race. The D. Wayne Lukas trainee will keep getting chances, though, and will likely earn his way to the Kentucky Derby (G1).

16. Just a Touch

Pros: Solid trainer, showed solid improvement

Cons: Only a maiden winner; win came over the slop

Outlook: This horse looked like a monster in his maiden special weight romp at Fair Grounds and could be Brad Cox’s latest good horse. We might seem him in a stakes race next.

17. No More Time

Pros: Won the Sam F. Davis Stakes (G3) in impressive fashion

Cons: Low speed figures; inconsistent

Outlook: He showed improvement to win the Sam F. Davis, but the speed figures came back low. He still needs to improve, but his victory earned him enough points to be on the list.

18. Antiquarian

Pros: Solid maiden score at Fair Grounds; good pedigree

Cons: Behind from a timing standpoint; numbers aren’t great

Outlook: At this point, he’s probably too far behind to make the Kentucky Derby. However, he has shown talent in both starts so far.

19. Uncle Heavy

Pros: Won the Withers Stakes (G3) at Aqueduct

Cons: Speed figures are lacking

Outlook: This horse showed determination to catch El Grande O in the Withers, which puts him on the board when it comes to the Kentucky Derby. We’ll see if he can continue to progress.

20. Honor Marie

Pros: Graded stakes winner; solid distance pedigree

Cons: Beaten badly in his 3-year-old debut at Fair Grounds

Outlook: He was a disappointing 5th in the Risen Star Stakes (G2) after training nicely leading up to the race. We’ll give him a pass, though, as he may have needed the race or just hated the slop.