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Kentucky Derby Odds & Predictions 2024

Last Updated: May 3, 2024

The 150th Kentucky Derby is coming up on Saturday, May 4.

Held at its annual setting of Churchill Downs, this year’s field is headlined by two big names: Sierra Leone and Fierceness, but the talent and impressive pedigrees don’t end there.

Let’s take a look at everything you need to know ahead of this year’s Kentucky Derby, and who you should consider betting on to win the most exciting two minutes in sports.

Kentucky Derby Best Odds To Win & Position Draws

Horse racing lines were provided by FanDuel Sportsbook and are current as of Thursday, May 2.

  1. Dornoch, 17-1
  2. Sierra Leone, 9-2
  3. Mystik Dan, 25-1
  4. Catching Freedom, 8-1
  5. Catalytic, 37-1
  6. Just Steel, 31-1
  7. Honor Marie, 15-1
  8. Just A Touch, 14-1
  9. Encino (Scratched)
  10. T O Password, 56-1
  11. Forever Young, 8-1
  12. Track Phantom, 50-1
  13. West Saratoga, 30-1
  14. Endlessly, 48-1
  15. Domestic Product, 31-1
  16. Grand Mo The First, 58-1
  17. Fierceness, 2-1
  18. Stronghold, 39-1
  19. Resilience, 27-1
  20. Society Man, 60-1
  21. Epic Ride, 59-1
  22. Mugatu, 82-1

Scratched from Kentucky Derby

As of Thursday, May 2, these horses have been scratched from the Triple Crown race at Churchill Downs on Saturday:

  • 9 Encino

No. 21 Epic Ride joins the race.

When is the 2024 Kentucky Derby?

The 2024 Kentucky Derby is on Saturday, May 4, and as it is every year, it will be held at Churchill Downs in Lexington, KY.

This year marks the Sesquicentennial running of the most famous horse race in the world.

Post time for the 150th Kentucky Derby is 6:57 p.m. ET. The race will be broadcast on NBC and available to stream on the Peacock app.

Kentucky Derby Prediction to Win/Place/Show

No. 2 Sierra Leone to Win (9-2)

While favorite Fierceness (2-1) is trained by legendary Todd Pletcher, and three-time Kentucky Derby-winning jockey John Velazquez will ride him in the 150th Run for the Roses, the horse will run out of the 17th post position, the only post position in the top 20 that has never produced a winner.

The second favorite, Sierra Leone, is trained by Chad Brown, another top trainer, and ridden by Tyler Gaffone, one of the best young jockeys in the sport and the winner of the 2019 Preakness Stakes when he rode War of Will.

Gaffone knows what it takes to win a Triple Crown race, and while he doesn’t have Velazquez’s resume, he is riding a horse just as special and in a more favorable post position.

Sierra Leone won the Blue Grass Stakes, one of the more important and indicative prep races correlating to Kentucky Derby success. Sierra Leone has won three of his four career races, and his one loss was by a nose.

While it’s not a massive sample size, it is an impressive one. Gaffone should let Sierra Leone ride in the middle or near the front of the pack for much of the race before making his move on this talented horse who’s become known for his closing abilities and speed.

We have a battle of two titans this year in the Triple Crown but expect Sierra Leone to be draped in Roses following the most exciting two minutes in sports.

Take the second favorite to win the Derby as your horse racing pick of the day.

No. 17 Fierceness to Place (2-1)

I spoke about this being a race of two titans, and make no mistake: Even though I’m giving the edge to Sierra Leone, I fully expect Fierceness to be right there at the wire.

Velazquez (three-time Derby winner) can put his Kentucky Derby resume up to anyone else in this field, and so can trainer Todd Pletcher (two-time Derby winner). Fierceness is coming off a dominant win in the Florida Gulf Stakes, winning by an impressive 13 ½ lengths.

Many pin Fierceness as the best horse in this race and he very well could be. However, given his starting position at No. 17 (which has never produced a winner), he’ll have a lot of work to get out front, and even if he manages that, it could drain him too much.

Despite all his talent, including with the guy riding him, I think he falls just short of being able to keep the entire field behind him.

No. 4 Catching Freedom to Show (8-1)

Speaking of talented and accomplished jockeys, Catching Freedom will have Flavien Prat on the saddle for the 150th Run for the Roses.

Platt has seven career top-three finishes in Triple Crown races and two wins, including the 2019 Kentucky Derby on Country House. Platt has placed in the top three in at least one Triple Crown every year but one in the last five years, with 2020 and its modified schedule being his only miss.

Furthermore, Catching Freedom is trained by Brad Cox, another impressive Triple Crown resume. Cox has two Triple Crown victories, both in 2021, but with different horses. Mandaloun won the Kentucky Derby that year, while Essential Quality came away with the victory at the Belmont Stakes.

Catching Freedom has won three of his five races thus far in his career, but furthermore, he’s never finished worse than 4th. Taking him to show here, even in this elite field, is a comfortable decision.

Additionally, Catching Freedom has increased his Equibase speed score in every race he’s competed in, finishing his last one at 95. If that trend continues at Churchill Downs, he’ll be in the company of the top picks in the Derby Field.

Kentucky Derby Longshot Pick

No. 6 Just Steel to Win (31-1)

Just Steel comes in with some of the best pedigree in the race. He is the son of legendary Triple Crown winner Justify, and fellow Derby contender Just A Touch.

Just Steel is trained by Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas, who has 14 total Triple Crown wins, including four Derby wins. While his jockey, Keith J. Asmussen, doesn’t have the Triple Crown success on his resume compared to the other jockeys I’ve mentioned, like the horse he’ll be riding, his family pedigree is what’s important here.

A member of one of the most well-known and accomplished racing families ever. Keith’s father, Steve, is the all-time leader in North American wins for a thoroughbred conditioner. This win, same as for Just Steel, would be a monumental and solidifying win for Asmussen.

Just Steel has placed in three of his last four races, failing to quite get over that hump. But his father, Justify, didn’t even race as a two-year-old and dominated at the Kentucky Derby.

It might be a different approach with Just Steel (who has raced seven times), but his genetics suggest this horse knows how to turn it up a notch when the lights are the brightest, and nowhere are they brighter in the horse racing world than Churchill Downs.

Past Kentucky Derby Winners

2023: Mage

2022: Rich Strike

2021: Mandaloun

2020: Authentic

2019: Country House

2018: Justify

2017: Always Dreaming

2016: Nyquist

2015: American Pharoah

2014: California Chrome

Kentucky Derby Racing Notes & Churchill Downs Tips

Before we get into some more specific tips, let’s quickly go over some of the basics of horse betting.

Odds in the Kentucky Derby work the same way as with other horse races in the United States: they are pari-mutuel odds. This means that the odds are based on how the public is wagering. If bettors on the whole put more money on a horse, that horse is a favorite and the odds are lower. If bettors put less money on a horse, that horse is a long shot, and the odds will be higher.

When the Kentucky Derby is drawn, Churchill Downs will release a morning line that is essentially an estimate, not a guarantee, of what the odds will be on race day. Betting will then open at 9:00 a.m. ET on the day before the race.

The odds will fluctuate on Saturday and Sunday based on the wagers coming in, and the final odds will be determined by how much has been bet on each horse once the gates fling open.

Be Mindful of the Weather

I cannot say this enough. In a race this big, you must keep an eye on the radar.

From horses that like running in the mud to the heat, the Derby can produce a wide variety of days. So far, however, this Derby looks clean. At the moment, they’re calling for sun and 70s.

Put the Pieces Together

This, more than anything, helps me handicap a race. It’s not just about a particular horse; it’s how that horse fits into a much larger picture against other horses.

How many of them will attempt to get the lead? How many will sit back off the pace and attempt to close? Where are those horses situated relative to post positions? It’s a puzzle, and solving it is both hard and a great deal of fun.

Beware the Post Positions

Where a horse starts is crucial to the race, and a few notable keys come to mind. The 1-post position, as mentioned, has been historically awful in terms of results, while horses on the outside (Post 15 and beyond) can also have a difficult time in this race.

It’s simple, really. A bad post position will force a horse out of its comfort zone. As such, it looms large when it comes to running styles and overall talent.

Author

David Kaestle

David is an Editor and Senior Social Media Manager for The Game Day. Previously, he worked as an editor for FanDuel, covering sports betting and fantasy sports, with a focus on the NBA, NFL, college basketball, golf, boxing, and horse racing. David is a born-and-raised New Yorker and a fan of all the blue-blood hometown teams.

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