2024 Kentucky Derby predictions: Three long-shot picks for Churchill Downs

2024 Kentucky Derby predictions: Three long-shot picks for Churchill Downs

There’s a reason why punters love the Kentucky Derby.

Sure, the pomp and pageantry are a spectacle and it’s fun to get caught up in all of the hoopla, but there’s also incredible opportunity if things break your way at the window.

That’s because the Kentucky Derby is set up to be chaotic.

If you throw 20 of the best horses in the world into one starting gate, things will naturally get weird.

There’s no other race like it.

We’ve seen that play out the past two years with Mage (15-1) and Rich Strike (80-1) taking home the roses and providing massive payouts for those who took the ride.

This year’s field is headlined by No. 17 Fierceness (5-2), who won the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at 16-1 odds, and No. 2 Sierra Leone (3-1).

With two consensus favorites at the top, you’d think most railbirds will start their handicap by choosing between the chalk and deciding which long shots to use underneath in exotics. But this race is uniquely poised because of the distinctly different holes you can poke in the favorites.

For Fierceness, the consensus seems to be that he either wins because he gets the race he wants and puts away the field, or he finishes toward the back of the pack because he seems to have a tough time adjusting to things going haywire.

Fierceness is the favorite to win the Kentucky Derby. AP

As for Sierra Leone, there are a lot of skeptics who think he’ll fall too far behind for his closing style to matter.

Those critics only got louder when he drew the No. 2 post position because his lack of speed means he’ll likely have to sit back into the first turn — he’s not fast enough to set the pace — and go 10 wide to set himself up for his optimal trip. 

All of this opens the door for some long shots to not only hit the board, but win the race: 

No. 7 Honor Marie (20-1)

Don’t be surprised if you hear Honor Marie’s name a lot Saturday.

Not only is he coming off a strong showing in the Grade 2 Louisiana Derby, but he also has two wins and a second in three starts at Churchill Downs. 

If things open up and Honor Marie has a clear path, he’s got the speed and mentality to hang in with this field. 

It seems as if this Whit Beckman-trained horse is going to be a trendy pick, so don’t be surprised if this number is slashed considerably by the time the gate opens.

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No. 18 Stronghold (20-1)

As noted before, the Kentucky Derby is mayhem and you want to consider horses that can handle that carnage.

Stronghold fits that bill as he seems to relish the fight and close out races. He comes in off back-to-back wins in the Sunland Derby and Santa Anita Derby. 

No. 15 Domestic Product (30-1) 

Domestic Product likely doesn’t have the speed to upset this field, but he’s proven to be one of the better closers and if he things break his way and he’s able to be within touching distance, he absolutely has a chance to add some value to your exotics.

It also doesn’t hurt that he’s got some incredible connections with Irad Ortiz Jr. aboard this Chad Brown-trained horse.

He’s improved enough to make him worth a hard look at this price.

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