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2024 Louisiana Derby & Jeff Ruby Steaks Top Picks: Solid Fave at the Stakes, Not In the Bayou

Jockey Lanfranco Dettori Endlessly 2024 Louisiana Derby Jeff Ruby Steaks
Jockey Lanfranco Dettori reacts atop Endlessly after victory during the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf (Grade 1) at Santa Anita Park on November 03, 2023. Harry How/Getty Images/AFP

The focus of most bettor’s attention is March Madness, which is understood. Nevertheless, something big is also on the horizon, the Kentucky Derby on the first Saturday in May.

This Saturday we have two top Kentucky Derby prep races featuring the Jeff Ruby Steaks and the Louisiana Derby. Both races allow the Top 5 finishers to acquire points to help qualify for the Run for the Roses, the first leg of the Triple Crown.

Let’s try and figure out who could send you to collect your wagers at the top betting sites.

Remember that, depending on the state where you’re located, the horse racing markets can vary. For example, Bet365 (check our Bet365 Review) now offers fixed odds in Colorado. Check to see what your local providers offer.

2024 Louisiana Derby Info

  • Race: 12
  • Status: Grade 2
  • Distance: Race 1 3/16-miles
  • Conditions: Dirt
  • Purse: $1,000,000

Louisiana Derby 2024

Saturday, March 23, 2024 – Post Time 06:42 PM ET at Fair Grounds Race Course


2024 Louisiana Derby Picks

  • Exacta Box: #4 Agate Road  & #5 Catching Freedom
  • Win: #4 Agate Road
Post PositionHorseJockeyTrainerML Odds
1Triple EspressoLuis SaezTodd Pletcher20-1
2Hall of FameRicardo SantanaSteve Asmussen8-1
3AntiquarianJohn VelazquezTodd Pletcher12-1
4Agate RoadIrad Ortiz, Jr.Todd Pletcher8-1
5Catching FreedomFlavien PratBrad Cox4-1
6Awesome RutaMitchell MurrillJoseph Foster30-1
7Honor MarieBen CurtisWhit Bechman8-1
8Next LevelJose RiquelmeKeith Desormeaux30-1
9Real Men ViolinCorey LanerieKenny McPeek20-1
10Common DefenseBrian Hernandez, Jr.Kenny McPeek6-1
11Tuscan GoldTyler GaffalioneChad Brown8-1
12Track PhantomJoel RosarioSteve Asmussen3-1

Breaking Down the Louisiana Derby

For racing fans of Fair Grounds, if this race has many familiar faces from the Risen Star Stakes on Feb. 17, that is 100 percent true. Of the Top Eight finishers, only Sierra Leone (winner) and the horse that finished 4th will not return.

Track Phantom is the favorite at 3-1 odds, but he’s hardly a lock with seven total horses listed with single-digit odds. Track Phantom was 2nd here just over a month ago and surpassed by Sierra Leone. With this the longest prep race at 1 3/16 miles, there are concerns TP tired in that race and the added distance might not work out. Still in the mix for a win/trifecta, cashing all six races (3-W, 2-P and 1-S).

If not the favorite then whom? Certainly, Agate Road (8-1) fits the bill with a pair of wins and three #2s in a half dozen outings. Todd Pletcher is the trainer and he has the most Louisiana Derby victories of all time, and arguably jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. is the best in the sport. A win contender and a Top 3 choice.

Catching Freedom was 3rd at this track a month ago in the Risen Star and that came on the heels of winning the Smarty Jones at Oaklawn before that. CF rider Flavien Prat won this race in 2022 and trainer Brad Cox did the same in 2020. Catching Freedom has two wins in four starts and is another win contender for an exacta box.

Other Options

Two others appear to at least reach the tote board if not the winner’s circle. They are Common Defense (6-1) and Honor Marie (8-1).

Common Defense is 1-2-0 in four trips out of the gate and has the highest speed rating among the field of 12 in its last race. Honor Marie has two victories and a place in four races with his last triumph at the Kentucky Jockey Club (G2) and he finished fifth at the Risen Star just over four weeks ago. Better fits to trifecta or superfecta tickets.


2024 Jeff Ruby Steaks Info

  • Race: 12
  • Status: Grade 3
  • Distance: Race 1 1/8-miles
  • Conditions: Synthetic
  • Purse: $700,000

Jeff Ruby Steaks 2024

Saturday, March 23, 2024 – Post Time 06:25 PM ET at Turfway Park


2024 Jeff Ruby Steaks Picks

  • Win: #10 Endlessly
  • Trifecta Box: #10 Endlessly, #3 Lucky Jeremy & #6 Northern Flame
Post PositionHorseJockeyTrainerML Odds
1Freedom PrincipleAdam BeschizzaJose Garaffalo30-1
2Dancing GroomFrankie DettoriAntonio Sano15-1
3Lucky JeremyGerardo CorralesBill Morey10-1
4NotedLuis SaezTodd Pletcher10-1
5Agate RoadJose OrtizTodd Pletcher4-1
6Northern FlameJulien LeparouxKenny McPeek5-1
7WoodcourtLuan MachadoCipriano Contreras6-1
8OtelloJavier CastellanoChristophe Clement12-1
9Seize the GreyNik JuarezD. Wayne Lukas8-1
10EndlesslyUmberto RispoliMichael McCarthy5-2
11Baytown ChatterboxAlbin JimenezPaul McEntee30-1
12West SaratogaJesus CastanonLarry Demeritte20-1
13Circle PTyler ConnerFlint Stites30-1
14Triple EspressoJose OrtizTodd Pletcher20-1

Breaking Down the Jeff Ruby Steaks

The favorite is Endlessly (5-2 odds) and it is easy to see why. Endlessly posted two wins as a two-year-old, both on turf. In his first start as a three-year-old, he won the El Camino Real Derby on Golden Gate’s synthetic surface, opening the eyes of trainer Michael McCarthy, who decided to see if he could qualify for the Derby.

What McCarthy wants veteran rider Umberto Rispoli to do is come out the 10th position right behind the leaders at the turn to set Endlessly in a great spot. Bet this horse to win and use it as a key horse on a trifecta bet.

Two More Legs

Lucky Jeremy (8-1) has quality speed ratings, second only to Endlessly in the 12th race at Turfway Park on Saturday. In truth, he doesn’t appear to be a win candidate, but place/show wagers work along with an exacta with the favorite.

At this point, it becomes a question of, “Who do you like?”. The second-best odds are with Northern Flame at 5-1. He’s also a place/show possibility as his speed ratings have climbed in each of his last three starts—also, a fit for the trifecta as mentioned above or superfecta tickets.

Seize the Grey (6-1) attracts the attention of those following the workouts of horses, trending in the right direction, and could be a factor with the right trip.

*The line and/or odds referenced in this article might have changed since the content was published. For the latest information on line movements, visit OddsTrader’s free betting odds tool.

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