Kentucky Derby: Three live longshots for 2024

By J. Keeler Johnson ("Keelerman") Twitter: @J_Keelerman

Barely more than two weeks out from the 2024 Kentucky Derby (G1), all the prep races have been contested and the field is coming into sharp focus. It's time to analyze the prospective entries and look for live longshots capable of crashing the superfecta at double-digit odds.

With this goal in mind, here are a trio of longshots I'm considering backing in this year's Derby:

Domestic Product

Domestic Product caught my eye when he dominated a 1 1/8-mile maiden special weight at Aqueduct last fall. After tracking a slow pace, he finished fast (final three furlongs in :36.66) to win by 4 1/2 lengths.

Since then, Domestic Product has encountered one bad setup after another. In the 1 1/8-mile Remsen (G2) at Aqueduct, Domestic Product settled in fourth position over a muddy and strongly speed-favoring track before giving way to finish seventh behind Dornoch, who led virtually all the way.

Back on a fast track for the 1 1/16-mile Holy Bull (G3) at Gulfstream, Domestic Product was compromised by settling as many as three lengths behind pedestrian fractions of :25.03, :50.53, and 1:14.25. Despite this obstacle, he rallied gamely to finish second, 1 1/2 lengths ahead of Kentucky Derby favorite Fierceness.

Domestic Product encountered an even slower pace in the 1 1/16-mile Tampa Bay Derby (G3) at Tampa Bay Downs, rating a couple of lengths behind snail-like fractions of :25.25, :51.14, and 1:16.21. But he refused to be defeated, sprinting his final three furlongs in a blazing :35.01 (and his final furlong in :11.77) to prevail by a neck over the pace-tracking Sam F. Davis (G3) winner No More Time.

The point is, Domestic Product has qualified to the Kentucky Derby despite receiving poor setups in three straight stakes. He's repeatedly shown a strong finishing kick on fast tracks, and while entering the Kentucky Derby off an eight-week layoff is a question mark, I believe Domestic Product has a shot to land a top-four finish under five-time Eclipse Award-winning jockey Irad Ortiz Jr.

Honor Marie

We know Honor Marie likes Churchill Downs. The son of champion Honor Code boasts a 3-2-1-0 record at the Kentucky Derby host track, highlighted by a stretch-running score in the 1 1/16-mile Kentucky Jockey Club (G2) last fall. Modest early fractions of :23.70, :48.45, and 1:13.40 didn't lend Honor Marie any advantages, yet he clocked his final three furlongs in a sharp :36.79 to get up and win by two lengths.

Honor Marie didn't fare as well when kicking off 2024 in the Risen Star (G2) at Fair Grounds, rallying only belatedly from 11th position to finish fifth. But the top four finishers were Blue Grass (G1) winner Sierra Leone, Lecomte (G3) hero Track Phantom, Louisiana Derby (G2) winner Catching Freedom, and Wood Memorial (G2) victor Resilience, so we can forgive Honor Marie for faltering against a deep field in his first start off a three-month layoff. Even in defeat, he ran his final three furlongs in approximately :37.27.

Honor Marie improved significantly in his second start of 2024. In the 1 3/16-mile Louisiana Derby (G2) at Fair Grounds, he rallied wide to finish second by one length against Catching Freedom. By hand-timing the replay of the race, I gauge that Honor Marie ran his final three furlongs in :37.01.

In short, Honor Marie has finished up strongly in three straight Road to the Kentucky Derby qualifiers. I can certainly envision a scenario where Honor Marie rallies from far behind to crack the Kentucky Derby superfecta

T O Password

Undefeated UAE Derby (G2) winner Forever Young is considered the top Kentucky Derby contender from Japan, but don't underestimate T O Password. The lightly raced colt is 2-for-2 and heads to Churchill Downs with a promising profile.

T O Password showed speed when winning his debut racing 1,800 meters (about 1 1/8 miles) at Kyoto, racing in second place before finishing his final 600 meters (about three furlongs) in :37.5 to win by two lengths. He was particularly strong through the final 200 meters (about one furlong), which elapsed in :12.1.

T O Password showed a similar turn-of-foot when stepping up in class for the 1,800-meter Fukuryu S. at Nakayama, the final stop on the Japan Road to the Kentucky Derby. After setting fractions of :24.8, :51.3, and 1:16.2, T O Password ran his final 600 meters in :37.9 to hold off a deep closer and win by a head in 1:54.1.

It's important to note that dirt tracks in Japan tend to play quite slowly, and the fact T O Password has twice finished in under :38 while racing 1,800 meters is respectable. Remember Master Fencer, the Japanese raider who finished seventh (upgraded to sixth via disqualification) at 58-1 in the 2019 Kentucky Derby? He exited a runner-up finish in the Fukuryu, in which he finished up in :37.1 to record a final time of 1:53.4.

T O Password is bound to encounter a faster pace in the Kentucky Derby, and that's a question mark. But if he's able to adapt to an off-the-pace running style, I don't think we can dismiss the possibility of T O Password launching a homestretch rally to finish in the top four, especially if the track is sloppy. His sire, Copano Rickey, repeatedly thrived over sloppy and muddy tracks while winning multiple local Group 1 races on Japan's National Association of Racing (NAR) circuit.

Now it's your turn! Which live longshots do you like in the 2024 Kentucky Derby?


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J. Keeler Johnson (also known as "Keelerman") is a writer, videographer, voice actor, handicapper, and all-around horse racing enthusiast. A great fan of racing history, he considers Dr. Fager to be the greatest racehorse ever produced in America, but counts Zenyatta as his all-time favorite.

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