Kentucky Derby Trends 2024: Winners, Post Positions & Names

The 150th Kentucky Derby will be held on May 4, 2024, at Churchill Downs in Louisville, and this year promises to be one of the best in recent memory.

When it comes to finding the winner, what do past trends and stats suggest about who might win this year’s Run for the Roses?

Will money talk for the favorite’s moneyline odds, or should bettors look back at this year’s Derby trials as a reliable pointer?

We analyze all the key trends for the 2024 Kentucky Derby, highlighting the hotspots and key areas to focus on.

Past Winners Of The Kentucky Derby

Below are the past ten Kentucky Derby winners, including the +1500 shot Mage, who won last year. The betting odds highlighted in bold indicate the favorites that year.

Year Winner Trainer Odds Form Best Run
23 Mage (USA) G Delgado +1500 -142 2nd Grade 1
22 Rich Strike (USA) E Reed +8000 35-343 3rd Grade 3
21 Mandaloun (USA) B Cox +2500 1-316 1st Grade 2
20 Authentic (USA) B Baffert +800 1-1121 1st Grade 1
19 Country House (USA) B Mott +6000 1-243 3rd Grade 1
18 Justify (USA) B Baffert +333 -111 1st Grade 1
17 Always Dreaming (USA) T Pletcher +450 32-111 1st Grade 1
16 Nyquist (USA) M Gutierrez +230 111-11 1st Grade 1
15 American Pharoah (USA) B Baffert +290 511-11 1st Grade 1
14 California Chrome (USA) A Sherman +250 1111-1 1st Grade 1

The last ten years have been a tale of two halves, with fancied Kentucky Derby horses dominating this race from 2014 to 2018 before a run of longshots—each of the last five Kentucky winners was +800 or bigger, including at +8000, +6000-1, and 2500!

Should such trends continue, bettors may want to vouch for outright wagers on the higher-odds runners on show come May 3.

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Kentucky Derby Trials

One of the most reliable methods of finding the Derby winner is to look back at the traditional path of prep races for the Kentucky Derby. Indeed, past contenders have trodden this series of reliable stepping stones on numerous occasions throughout the years—hence, we’ve listed the top prep races for you to look back on.

Trials that provided the most Kentucky Derby winners:

  • Grade 1 Florida Derby – 3 winners
  • Grade 1 Santa Anita Derby – 3 winners
  • Grade 1 Arkansas Derby – 2 winners
  • Grade 2 Louisiana Derby – 2 winners
  • Grade 2 Risen Star Stakes – 2 winners
  • Grade 2 San Felipe Stakes – 2 winners

At the top of the Kentucky Derby Trials list is the Florida Derby, staged at Gulfstream Park in late March and won by Fierceness this time around. This will please his supporters, as the talented colt won the Florida event by a huge margin.

Another of the top prep races is the Santa Anita Derby, won this year by Stronghold, who dug bravely to come out best in a neck-and-neck tussle down the home straight, in the process earning a place in this year’s Kentucky Derby field.

Several of the past 10 Kentucky victors also ran in one or two of the above trials on their way to Churchill Downs, which could bode well for the likes of Catching Freedom, who won the Louisiana Derby in March after previously finishing third in February’s Risen Star Stakes.

Kentucky Derby Form

Having now looked back at the favorable paths towards the Kentucky Derby, a closer look is required to determine their actual form. Again, this reveals some interesting trends – the first being that each of the last 10 Kentucky winners made the top three of a Graded race during their career.

More recent form also showed that 9 of the last 10 winners made the top three placings last time out, with only the 2021 Kentucky Derby winner, Madaloun, overcoming that trend by finishing sixth before Churchill Downs.

Similarly, nine of the last ten winners also ran at least twice earlier that year, with California Chrome the only exception in 2014, having just one outing that year—possibly because he experienced a hectic winning juvenile campaign.

The final form clue comes via the race distance, with all bar one Derby winner having raced over 1m1f last time.

Kentucky Derby Post Position

Several bettors will want to know the actual post position (aka stalls or draw) in the Kentucky Derby, as it can certainly affect the result.

With a maximum field of 20 runners, there is also plenty of hustle and bustle for a decent slot around the bends to avoid getting forced too wide, meaning there are inevitably some hard-luck stories and blocked passages.

This may explain why each of the last ten winning Kentucky Derby jockeys broke from stall 5 or higher, away from the inside of the track in lanes 1, 2, 3, and 4. Indeed, should the maximum field assemble once more, recent history suggests a post position in stall 5 to 15 looks ideal.

What’s In A Name?

While most horse racing handicappers have their own way of picking selections, there is always the attraction of a catchy name jumping off the racecard when scanning the field, and there are some fancy names amongst the 2024 renewal – Catching Freedom and Track Panther to name just two!

A look back at the past 10 Kentucky Derby winners also shows that four of the last six Kentucky winners featured one-word names—a good sign for this year’s fancied runner, Fierceness, perhaps—while Sierra Leone’s followers will take heart from the fact that geographic words (‘California’ and ‘American’) featured in the names of both the 2014 and 2015 winners.

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Other Kentucky Derby Trends

Knowing which Kentucky Derby trainers did well in the race previously is, of course, another tick in the box, with the likes of Bob Baffert winning it three times since 2015.

Eagle-eyed bettors may also have spotted in the earlier list of past winners above that the suffix (USA) followed the winner’s name—this representing the country where the horse was bred.

Therefore, it may come as no surprise that all 10 Kentucky victors were indeed bred in North America. This fact counted against two of the fancied Japanese-bred (JPN) runners in 2023, along with nine Canadian-breds (CAN) that were beaten during the last ten years.

As for horse racing bettors looking at the racecard number for their selection, then as with the post position, low numbers missed out, with each of the last 10 Kentucky Derby winners listed as number 4 or higher on the racecard – for the record, only 5, 7 & 18 came up twice.

Finally, for viewers watching the race on TV, a glance in the parade ring to see the color of each runner could provide a final clue, with nine of the last ten Kentucky winners either chestnut or bay.


When did the betting favorite last win the Kentucky Derby?

What Kentucky Derby Trials provided the most winners?

What colors have been the most successful in the Kentucky Derby?

What post position provided the most Kentucky Derby winners?

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