Kentucky Derby Horses 2024: Lineup, Favorites & Best Longshots

The historic Kentucky Derby takes place on May 4, 2024, at Churchill Downs, which this year celebrates its 150th anniversary of the race.

This Grade 1 event always runs over a distance of 1m2f and represents the first leg of the famous Triple Crown, featuring the Preakness Stakes (May 18) and Belmont Stakes (June 8).

So, let’s get down to it and take a closer look at this year’s main contenders for the Kentucky Derby, and possibly one or two who might outrun their big odds.

Who Is The Favorite For The 2024 Kentucky Derby?

Fierceness

Odds: +250
Trainer: Todd Pletcher
Form: 171-31
Post Position: 17

The favorite for this year’s Kentucky Derby—aka, the Run For The Roses—is Fierceness. This talented colt already tasted ‘Derby’ success when winning the Grade 1 Florida Derby on March 30 (1m1f) – very much looking the business by improving to lead from the front and scoring by a huge margin.

As a Breeders’ Cup winner in November, he’ll be looking to become the third horse to complete the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile/Kentucky Derby double.

The jockey, John Velazquez, also has three victories in the Kentucky Derby since 2011.

Pros:
  • Likely to avoid any trouble racing near the front and trained by Todd Pletcher, who won the Kentucky Derby in 2010 & 2017.
  • Post position of 17 keeps him out wide and away from the congestion.
Cons:
  • Inconsistent – recorded two poor performances on either side of his three wins.

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Who Are The Other Main Contenders in the 2024 Kentucky Derby?

Sierra Leone

Odds: +300
Trainer: Chad Brown
Form: 12-11
Post Position: 2

Close on the heels of Fierceness in the betting is Sierra Leone, who has won three of four races, including one of the key trial races on April 6. Sierra Leone was the favorite up until the release of the post positions, which saw Fierceness (17) out wide and Sierra Leone (2) in the thick of it.

In landing the Grade 1 Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland last time (1m1f), he came from behind in heroic fashion to finish strongly and fly past Just A Touch in the process, scoring by over a length.

What stood out was that he wasn’t stopping at the line, giving the firm impression further would, and that’s exactly what he’ll get at Churchill Downs.

Pros:
  • Possesses a devastating change of gear and will enjoy this step up in trip.
Cons:
  • Likes to come from behind, which could present traffic problems in a big field of runners.
  • Has a bad post position of 2, putting him on the inside which proves problematic on corners.

Forever Young

Odds: +1000
Trainer: Yoshito Yahagi
Form: 11-11
Post Position: 11

The big hope for Japan, and yet to taste defeat in four races. Won two UAE Derbys this year in Grade 3 and Grade 2 company, so this trip to Kentucky represents a step up in class.

Will need to improve again if becoming the first Kentucky winner from Japan, especially as winners of the UAE Derby that attempted this race flopped – for the record, they were 0-19, and none of them finished in the top three.

Pros:
  • Unbeaten and improving.
Cons:
  • Japanese runners have yet to win the Kentucky Derby.

Catching Freedom

Odds: +800
Trainer: Brad Cox
Form: 1-131
Post Position: 4

Beaten just once in four outings, Catching Freedom would be a popular winner, having been bred in Kentucky. He also boasts a gritty, likable profile, having shown battling qualities to earn a place in the Kentucky Derby line-up.

After beating Just Steel by over 2l on New Year’s Day, he then lost to Sierra Leone in February but quickly got back on track in March with Grade 2 success.

Pros:
  • He knows how to battle and won his debut here at Churchill Downs, so he knows the track.
Cons:
  • Needs to step up in class and was fairly beaten by the favorite, Sierra Leone, earlier this year.

The Best Longshot in the 2024 Kentucky Derby?

Resilience was beaten over three lengths by Sierra Leone in February, although the application of headgear in a Grade 2 at Aqueduct on April 6 saw him improve to win.

A repeat of that level of performance could see him get closer to Sierra Leone and be placed at fair odds.

Kentucky Derby 2024 Prep Races

The prep races take place as far back as September, the year before the Kentucky Derby when the horses are two-year-old juveniles.

These horse racing meets take place not just across the US but also around the world, from the UK to Japan. Points are allocated to the runners who perform well in these prep races, which decide whether they make the final line-up in May.

Some of these prep races also boast a good history of providing Kentucky Derby winners.

Kentucky Derby Latest Odds

Here are the latest odds for the 2024 Kentucky Derby. These were revised on 23.05.24 to show the latest odds following the announcement of post positions. The table has been sorted in order of favorites.

Horse Odds
Fierceness +250
Sierra Leone +300
Catching Freedom +800
Just A Touch +1000
Forever Young +1000
Track Phantom +2000
Encino +2000
Just Steel +2000
Honor Marie +2000
Dornoch +2000
Mystik Dan +2000
Stronghold +2000
Resilience +2000
T O Password +3000
Catalytic +3000
Endlessly +3000
Domestic Product +3000
Epic Ride +3000
Mugatu +3000
Grand Mo The First +5000
West Saratoga +5000
Society Man +5000

Encino will be replaced by Epic Ride due to a soft tissue strain in his right front leg.

The Best Kentucky Derby Horses 2024

Recent trends suggest going against the market leaders as there have been some big shocks, but could this be the year when things revert to the fancied runners dominating once more?

If so, then Fierceness has a lot going for him. Equipped with plenty of pace, as shown when landing the Florida Derby, this improving colt has been handed an ideal post position out wide in stall 17 where he can stay out of trouble early on and then work his way across.

On the other hand, Sierra Leone – who comes from behind – has been allocated stall 2 on the inside, which means he’ll have to come around the entire field to make his late challenge and will need to be something special if doing so; for the record, the last horse win the Kentucky Derby from stall 2 was the mighty, Affirmed, way back in 1978!

One runner who fared better when the post positions were decided on April 27 is Resilience (wide stall in 19), who wasn’t far behind Sierra Leone several weeks ago and has improved in headgear since. He could one to place at fair odds.

Take advantage of a $25 risk-free bet on the Kentucky Derby using BetOnline.

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