Kentucky Derby horses 2024: Fast facts to know before you pick a winner for Triple Crown race | Sporting News

Kentucky Derby horses 2024: Fast facts to know before you pick a winner for Triple Crown race | Sporting News

The 2024 Kentucky Derby will be the 150th edition, and the sesquicentennial running of the first leg of horse racing’s Triple Crown will take place Saturday, May 4 (post time 6:57 p.m. ET, NBC). Twenty horses are set to compete in the latest “Run For the Roses” this year, with finishing first in 1 1/4 miles separating them from immortality.

After Mage won at 15-1 closing odds in the 2023 Derby, the door remains open for a second consecutive upset. This year, Fierceness is the favorite, followed by Sierra Leone.

Before you make your final Kentucky Derby picks for win, place, and show in 2024, here’s a look at the odds, favorites, and long shots and how history, personnel, and conditions can hurt or help each horse:

MORE: Complete betting guide for the 2024 Kentucky Derby

Kentucky Derby post positions, morning line odds for 2024

Here are the results and initial betting lines for the field from Churchill Downs after the post-position draw. These have been updated closer to the post time on Saturday, with the latest morning line odds from

Post position Horse Odds
1 Dornoch 21-1
2 Sierra Leone 5-1
3 Mystik Dan 15-1
4 Catching Freedom 7-1
5 Catalytic 33-1
6 Just Steel 26-1
7 Honor Marie 12-1
8 Just a Touch 11-1
9 T O Password 48-1
10 Forever Young 6-1
11 Track Phantom 40-1
12 West Saratoga 24-1
13 Endlessly 48-1
14 Domestic Product 27-1
15 Grand Mo the First 44-1
16 Fierceness 7-2
17 Stronghold 34-1
18 Resilience 29-1
19 Society Man 48-1
20 Epic Ride 47-1

Which Kentucky Derby contenders have the best track record?

1. Fierceness

He’s the top entry for esteemed trainer Todd Pletcher, who’s looking for his elusive third Kentucky Derby win and first in seven years. Fierceness, 3 years old, has three key wins: Saratoga, the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, and Grade 1 Florida Derby. He’s won on both a fast track and muddy conditions, so he will be prepared for anything in Louisville.

2. Forever Young

This Japanese-trained colt has won all five of its entered races since last October. He has taken a trio in his home country at Kyoto, Mobetsu, and Kawasaki. This year, Forever Young finished first both in the Grade 3 Saudi Derby and Grade 2 UAE Derby. The Kentucky Derby will make his debut on American soil, but he should be ready to respond well given his experience.

3. Sierra Leone

He may be a little more Kentucky Derby-ready having won the Grade 1 Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland on April 6. Before then, he took the Grade 2 Risen Star at the Fair Ground in New Orleans, following a strong debut at Aqueduct. He would be the best momentum pick.

Which trainers can you trust most in the 2024 Kentucky Derby?

1. Todd Pletcher

Pletcher could not get it done a third time with Tapit Trice last season, as the horse faded to finish a distant 7th. He also had to scratch favorite Forte in 2023 and saw Kingsbarns finish 14. Fierceness is once again giving him the early front-runner as his lone entry. Super Saver (2010) and Always Dreaming (2017) were his two previous Deby victors. Pletcher also has four more Triple Crown victories under his belt, all at the longer Belmont Stakes.

2. Brad H. Cox

Cox is three years removed from winning two of the three Triple Crown races with two horses in 2021, Mandaloun in the Derby (after Medina Spirit was disqualified) and Essential Quality in the Belmont. He is taking three more shots in the Kentucky Derby, with Catching Freedom having a much better shot than Just a Touch.

3. Chad C. Brown

Brown has trained two horses to victory in the Triple Crown, both at the second leg, the Preakness State. Those entries were Cloud Computing in 2017 and Early Voting in 2022. He hopes Sierra Leone can flex in the longer Derby and he also has longshot Domestic Product in the mix.

MORE: All-time Kentucky Derby records

Which jockeys can you trust most at the 2024 Kentucky Derby?

1. John H. Velazquez

The savvy 52-year-old is looking for his fourth Derby win and first in four years with Fierceness after Reincarnate finished 13th last year Going back a dozen years, Velazquez won with Animal Kingdom (2011, with H. Graham Motion), Always Dreaming (with Pletcher, 2017), and Authentic (with Bob Baffert, 2020).

2. Flavien Prat

Prat won the 2019 Kentucky Derby riding Country House. He let down with Angel of Empire, a Cox-trained horse, last year, but the young star can redeem himself well with Catching Freedom.

3. Florent Geroux

Geroux also has a strong Derby win under his belt with Mandaloun in 2021 with Cox.  Luis Saez (Dornoch) and Jose Ortiz (Catalytic) deserve honorable mentions given their capacity to play spoiler with their rides. He’ll be motivated after finishing 17th for Cox with Jace’s Road. Geroux has a much better chance holding the reins of Just a Touch.

Which horses are the best long-shot picks to win the 2024 Kentucky Derby?

1. Catching Freedom

Look for the Prat-Cox combination to put this horse in contention. He has three wins and pushed Sierra Leone well in New Orleans.

2. Forever Young

Forever Young doesn’t have U.S. experience with trainer Yoshito Yahagi and jockey Ryusei Sakai, but it’s better positioned to make Japanese history than its foreign predecessors.

3. Domestic Product

His last race was a win at the Tampa Bay Derby in March. Watch out for this horse coming through for Brown and jockey Irad Ortiz Jr., who has won two Belmont Stakes.

Which post position is the most advantageous?

In Kentucky Derby history, no post position has produced more winners than No. 5, which has 10 over 149 years. No. 10 comes in second with nine winners. No. 5 is something inspiring for Catalytic, positioned where Always Dreaming won seven years ago, California Chrome won in ’14 and Audible placed in ’18. No. 10 is in a drought, as it’s been 19 years since a horse won from there (Giacomo in ’05).

Next in line is post position No. 8, with nine winners, including Mage, last year, Mine That Bird in ’09, and Barbaro in ’06. In 2018, Justify became the lucky seventh horse to win from No. 7, following Street Sense in, yep, you guessed it, 2007. Two years ago, Medina Spirit had thought it won from No. 8, but Mandaloun ended up prevailing from No. 7. Just a Touch and Honor Marie will hope to re-create some magic inside.

Being near the rail has been bad news of late. It’s been 38 years since Ferdinand won from No. 1 and 46 years since Affirmed won from No. 2. This year, Nos. 1 and 2 are tough breaks for Dornoch and Sierra Leone.

The sweet spot in recent years has been anywhere outside No. 12. By entering the gate late, Rich Strike improbably won from No. 21 in 2022. In reverse order back to 2008, such other winners include Nyquist (No. 13), American Pharoah (No. 18), Orb (No. 16), I’ll Have Another (No. 19), Animal Kingdom (No. 16), and Big Brown (No. 20).

Following that before Rich Strike, Country House won from No. 20 in 2019 and Authentic took the Derby from No. 18 in 2020. The one exception is No. 17, which has never produced a Derby winner in 45 tries. This year’s favorite, Fierceness, will be challenged to reverse that curse for good.

Kentucky Derby 2024 picks

Here is the projected order of finish at the 2024 Kentucky Derby:

  • Win: Forever Young
  • Place: Fierceness
  • Show: Just a Touch

Sierra Leone and Fierceness are facing difficult positions because of the bad luck of the draw. Forever Young is well positioned at No. 12, and Just a Touch will have the right touch to stay in it, too. 

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