After Catching Freedom finished fourth in the Kentucky Derby, trainer Brad Cox initially planned to bypass the Preakness Stakes. But with the horse galloping well at Churchill Downs last week and seemingly doing well physically, Cox decided to alter course and head to Baltimore. Now this late-running Louisiana Derby winner will get another chance to capture one leg of the Triple Crown.

3 Catching Freedom (6-1)

  • Trainer Brad Cox
  • Jockey Flavien Prat
  • Last race Fourth in the Kentucky Derby by 1¾ lengths
  • Career record 6 starts: 3 wins, 1 third
  • Career earnings $1,127,350
  • Best career Beyer Speed Figure 97 (2024 Louisiana Derby and Kentucky Derby)
  • Sire Constitution

What to know about Catching Freedom

There's no question who the best closer in the Preakness Stakes field is. That's Catching Freedom, who always does his best running late. Sometimes his late kick gets there, and sometimes it doesn't.

It didn't in the Kentucky Derby. After breaking relatively well -- for him, at least -- he was shuffled back to 15th by the crush of horses moving over to the rail. But after that, he enjoyed a drama-free trip, following Mystik Dan along the rail like a tailback following his fullback. Though Catching Freedom was able to pass horses in the stretch like he always does, he was unable to catch Mystik Dan and was even outkicked by Sierra Leone and Forever Young, who endured much wider trips.

But his late kick did get Catching Freedom to the finish line first in the Louisiana Derby eight weeks ago. In that race, he broke poorly from the starting gate and was forced to pass the other 10 horses in the field, which he did.

As a deep closer, he will always be at the mercy of the pace and traffic trouble. The pace scenario for the Preakness does not look to be as favorable for off-the-pace horses such as Catching Freedom as the Derby's, especially with the scratch of Muth, but perhaps that will allow the colt to lay closer early. Also, the eight-horse Preakness field means he will have to pass, at the maximum, seven horses, far fewer than he had to pass in Louisville. 

Cox's decision to run Catching Freedom in the Preakness after initially planning to bypass the race has to be viewed as a positive. "Obviously we like how he's doing," Cox said on Sunday.

The colt was trending upward heading into the Derby and put in a solid effort to run fourth. If the horse is doing as well as Cox says  he is, he will be a major player in the Preakness.

Post draw analysis

For a closer in an eight-horse field, there really are no bad posts, and post No. 3 should be just fine for Catching Freedom. In the Kentucky Derby he broke from post No. 4 and was able to get a ground-saving trip from that spot. In that race he showed an ability to run inside horses, a trait that could be valuable in the Preakness from this post.

If he's able to avoid being shuffled back this time, this late runner figures to make his presence felt late.