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CATCHING FREEDOM IS IN

Edited Pimlico Staff Release – Albaugh Family Stables’ Catching Freedom, the Kentucky Derby (G1) fourth-place finisher, will run in Saturday’s $2 million Preakness Stakes (G1) at Pimlico Race Course, trainer Brad Cox said Sunday morning.

Cox’s initial reaction was not to run Catching Freedom back in two weeks after the hard race the Louisiana Derby winner had in the Kentucky Derby, in which he finished less than two lengths behind victorious Mystik Dan. But Catching Freedom has been training so well at Churchill Downs that Cox felt the colt deserved another chance at a Triple Crown race.

Flavien Prat, aboard for the Louisiana Derby and the Kentucky Derby, has the mount.

“Obviously we like how he’s doing,” Cox said. “It’s just eight days after the Derby. It’s very important to watch the horse. He has been galloping well. I’m happy with the way he’s moving. Tomorrow (Monday) is entry day, and we are going to ship tomorrow. We need to get our ducks in a row, and we feel he’s shown us enough.

“It’s not ideal to run back in two weeks at this level, but that’s the way the schedule is. This race provides an opportunity to be very competitive in a Grade 1. We don’t want to miss that opportunity as long as he’s doing well. The Preakness is a very prestigious race. It’s not only a Grade 1 but a classic.”

Cox has participated in the Middle Jewel of the Triple Crown only once before, finishing third with Owendale and fourth with Warrior’s Charge in the 2019, neither of whom ran in the Derby. He had one of the Preakness favorites last year in multiple graded-stakes winner First Mission, only to have that horse scratched the day before the race.

“We put a lot of focus on the Kentucky Derby, and that obviously does take away from Preakness a little bit,” the lifelong Louisvillian said. “It’s just not as common to run these horses back in two weeks as maybe it used to be. It basically comes down to how the horse is doing, and we’re happy with the way he’s training. Based off who we hear is running, he stacks up with that group of horses — bottom line.”

Cox said Catching Freedom will leave for Baltimore after training Monday morning. His son, assistant trainer Blake Cox, will oversee Catching Freedom’s preparations at Pimlico.

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