Horse Racing Odds: 2024 Kentucky Derby Bets, Past Performances, Printable Cheat Sheet

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Written By Dave Bontempo | Last Updated
kentucky derby bets

Two factors loom larger than ever for the historic 150th Kentucky Derby showcase on Saturday from Churchill Downs: post position and pace. They rank high amid the melting pot of KY Derby betting variables for the $5 million, 1 1/4 race for the world’s top three-year-old thoroughbreds. Kentucky Derby bets must be placed before post time, approximately 6:57 p.m. ET. NBC will televise the race.

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2024 Kentucky Derby Morning Line Odds

Here’s a look at the field. No. 9 Encino is a scratch and no longer listed. Your odds and potential payout on Kentucky Derby bets will shift and become official at post time, per pari-mutuel regulations. The Derby is part of a loaded Churchill Downs Saturday schedule, with 14 races and more than half of them graded stakes.

Post PositionHorseMorning line oddsUpdated Kentucky
Derby odds
1.Dornoch20-122-1Danny GarganLuis Saez
2.Sierra Leone3-15-1Chad BrownTyler Gaffalione
3.Mystik Dan20-116-1Kenny McPeekBrian Hernandez
4.Catching Freedom8-18-1Brad CoxFlavien Prat
5.Catalytic30-132-1Saffie JosephJose Ortiz
6. Just Steel20-122-1D. Wayne LukasKeith Asmussen
7.Honor Marie20-113-1Whit BeckmanBen Curtis
8.Just A Touch10-110-1Brad CoxFlorent Geroux
9. EncinoScratchedScratchedBrad CoxAxel Concepcion
10.T O Passowrd (JPN)30-147-1Daisuke TakayanagiKazushi Kimura
11.Forever Young (JPN)10-16-1Yoshito YahagiRyusei Sakai
12.Track Phantom20-140-1Steve AsmussenJoel Rosario
13.West Saratoga50-123-1Larry DemeritteJesus Castanon
14.Endlessly30-147-1Michael McCarthyUmberto Rispoli
15.Domestic Product30-128-1Chad BrownIrad Ortiz
16. Grand Mo The First50-145-1Victor BarbozaEmisael Jaramillo
17.Fierceness5-27-2Todd PletcherJohn Velazquez
18.Stronghold20-135-1Philip D’AmatoAntonio Fresu
19.Resilience20-129-1Bill MottJunior Alvarado
20.Society Man50-146-1Danny GarganFrankie Dettori
21.Epic Ride50-144-1John EnnisAdam Beschizza
22. MugatuScratchedScratchedJeff EnglerJoseph Talamo

Fierceness Avoids No. 17 Post

Fierceness, the 5-2 morning-line favorite, no longer has to overcome the 0-for-44 record for the No. 17 post in the Derby. His saddle cloth may still say No. 17, but he will break from Gate No. 16 after the scratch of Encino moved everybody to his outside one post inward. For betting purposes, Fierceness is still No. 17 on your racing app/site.

But what happens if this expected pacesetter is pushed wide in this field of 20 entries, especially if other speed horses contest him early?

Sierra Leone Has To Pull Off An Affirmed

Can Sierra Leone, the 3-1 second choice, navigate a difficult No. 2 post, which hasn’t triumphed in this race since Affirmed in 1978? As a deep closer, he must avoid being pushed back too far by the wall of early speed horses.

Decisions, decisions … split-second ones that must be made by jockeys.

Welcome to the most exciting two minutes in sports.

Monitor Weather In Louisville

Updated forecasts call for a 70% chance of rain on Friday and 50% on Saturday. It’s a good idea to watch earlier races to see if that’s affecting the track surface.

  • Sierra Leone has triumphed in the slop.
  • Mystik Dan has his best Beyer Speed Figure in the slop.
  • Fierceness flopped in the slop in New York last year. We don’t know how that translates several months later.

Past Performances For Potential Kentucky Derby Bets

1. Dornoch (20-1)

Loves the front and now may have no choice. Sterling grittiness provided victories in the Remsen and Fountain of Youth Stakes, but must break sharply and veer slightly to the right to gain position. Even then, he’ll be flanked by other early speed.

There’s a reason no rail horse has captured the Derby since 1986. And when Ferdinand did it, he was dropped to the back of the pack and picked off the entire field.

High-quality horse. Bad luck on the post position.

2. Sierra Leone (3-1)

The finishing form to capture the Risen Star and Blue Grass Stakes reveals true mettle. There’s a glass-half-empty, glass-half-full scenario with him.

Half empty means he is covered by early-speed horses and pushed too far back. There’s even the risk of a collision with Dornoch, the speed horse to his inside.

Glass half full means he is guided to a rail-saving trip, finds a way to reach striking position on the outside, and gives his full run. He reminds me of Essential Quality in 2021 and Epicenter in 2022. You know what you’ll get from him, and he should be there. But he will need some racing luck this time.

Beyer speed figure of 98 is even more impressive because he rallied on a day the track favored speed. One of the top choices.

3. Mystik Dan (20-1)

Wonderful price for a horse that ran a 101 Beyer speed figure in the slop and added a reasonable 92 the next time for third in the Arkansas Derby. Would need a blistering pace to run at to have a good shot.

4. Catching Freedom (8-1)

Several things to absolutely love:

  1. He finished like a freight train, surging from last to first to outgun the Louisiana Derby field.
  2. The race distance was 1 3/16 miles. That’s the actual distance of the Preakness, indicating he must only stretch 1/16 of a mile compared to 1/8 for most in the field.
  3. The half-mile pace of 48.33 significantly favored the early speed horses. But he ran them all down and won going away. The pace he runs at will be faster here.

Had the best-looking putaway burst of the prep season. Was a fast-charging third to Sierra Leone in the Risen Star and then added his best race, gaining a 97 Beyer. Formidable. Dangerous. Hot win contender. Sweet price if it stays for Kentucky Derby bets.

5. Catalytic (30-1)

The explosive Florida Derby performance of Fierceness made people forget the rest of the field. Guess who was second that day, albeit a distant second? It was this horse. He may be a target for some bettors who see value for him underneath.

6. Just Steel (20-1)

Has run well every time. Adjusted tactics slightly in the Arkansas Derby, managing to be a close-up third and fourth throughout most of the running. He made his patented late run, and that was enough to get him a solid second behind winning Muth.

Based on his trajectory, has a substantial chance to hit the board and belongs on quite a few exotic tickets.

7. Honor Marie (20-1)

Made a similar move to Catching Freedom in circling the Louisiana Derby field. Have to love the strong second-place finish, which looks to have remained under the radar of the morning-line makers. With any kind of pace duel, he’ll be viable to hit this board and even be a win threat.

8. Just A Touch (10-1)

Excellent second-place finish to Sierra Leone, who ran him down in the stretch of the Blue Grass. Tracked a quick pace of 23.46 for the quarter-mile and 46.48 and was all set to cash in before Sierra Leone crashed the party. Could easily hit the board on his best day here. A strong Beyer speed figure of 96 indicates he belongs.

9. Encino (Scratched)

Fractions of 23.55 and 47.28 suggested he might be one of the speed-ball types trying to make life uncomfortable for Fierceness. That could mean less early pressure for the favorite now with the scratch.

10. T O Password (JPN, 30-1)

Gained the automatic Japan entry into the race because Forever Young qualified for the Kentucky Derby by winning the UAE Derby. Without that technicality, he would not be here. Not likely to be taken seriously.

11. Forever Young (JPN, 10-1)

You have to respect five-for-five lifetime performance at varying distances. But his UAE Derby triumph was roughly two seconds slower than Dermo Sotogake’s last year, who went on to run sixth in the Derby and second in the Breeders’ Cup Classic. Based on that class comparison, you can project him in the top half of the field. Hard to know beyond that. Distance of 1 3/16-miles for the UAE Derby are estimated by track officials after converting from meters.

12. Track Phantom (20-1)

Starting to show he’s an excellent horse for 1 1/16 miles, but not longer. Three nice consecutive wins at 1 1/16 were followed by a fading second to Sierra Leone in the 1 1/8-mile Risen Star and a grudging fourth behind Catching Freedom in the Louisiana Derby, which he led in the stretch.

It looks like he’s leveled off while others are improving. Nonetheless is a strong pace factor and should be prominently-placed when they turn for home. If the pace isn’t contentious, he could be on the board but he hasn’t proven he can beat these.

13. West Saratoga (50-1)

Distant second to Endlessly in the Jeff Ruby. Endlessly is a 30-1 longshot here.


14. Endlessly (30-1)

Fought gamely to win the Jeff Ruby and should be running late, but that last win was on synthetic, and this is a major step up. Not likely.

15. Domestic Product (30-1)

Has improved steadily since a seventh-place finish in the Remsen last fall. Was all out to capture the Tampa Bay Derby in March. Posted the fastest final fractions in this field, but likely a product of a very, very slow pace in the race. Those who bet on him did not collect because of tote-board malfunctions. Those who make a win bet on him here probably won’t get paid either. Nice horse to watch after this on smaller circuits.

16. Grand Mo The First (50-1)

Did his absolute best to snare third in the Florida Derby, a couple light years behind victorious Fierceness. Had speed considerations his way that day. That may not happen here. He’s not likely to be in the top three.

17. Fierceness (5-2)

Sensational in destroying the Florida Derby field with a 110 Beyer speed figure. Could have been higher had there been a need to press the issue, but there wasn’t. Johnny V will be more hard-pressed to use him early here with this outside post (now breaking from gate No. 16). The presence of Track Phantom and Dornoch suggests a potentially contentious pace. 

Consider this, though. The second-fastest Derby time of 1:59.97 came in 2001 from Monarchos out of post 16.

Major win contender. If unchallenged, he will show some remnants of Knicks Go and Flightline from Breeders’ Cup Classic romps. If challenged, he might fight tooth and nail with the closers in the stretch.

18. Stronghold (20-1)

Nice effort to win the Santa Anita Derby, but the 89 Beyer figure suggests he’ll need another gear to beat these. How does he make up 21 Beyer points, for example, to Fierceness? Game, but remote.

19. Resilience (20-1)

Similar Beyer story. Notched a 90 in capturing the Wood Memorial, which would not nearly be enough here. The last Wood Memorial winner to claim the Derby was Fusaichi Pegasus in 2000. Might be a consideration underneath, as he was only four lengths behind Sierra Leone in the Risen Star, in the slop.

20. Society Man (50-1)

Needs to come up too many levels. Gained a nice second in the Wood behind Reslience, at a whopping price of 99-1. He’s slightly behind the 20-1 shot in this race.

21. Epic Ride (50-1)

Gave an excellent account of himself before being overtaken by Sierra Leone in the Blue Grass. Finished a game third. Connections would like their chance to perhaps hit the bottom of the board if he gets in.

22. Mugatu (Also-Eligible, 50-1)

Several lengths behind Sierra Leone, fifth in the Blue Grass. Not much to bank hope on if he gets in.

Derby Jackpot Challenge

Pace Considerations

The flow of this race depends upon whether early heat is applied to Fierceness, who figures to have the lead. Dornoch and Track Phantom could make this contentious for him.

Catching Freedom, Sierra Leone, and Honor Marie look like the best closers. Some combo of this pack is probably going to hit the board. But which combo?

My Kentucky Derby Bets

For an even deeper dive into uncovering a Kentucky Derby winner, read our analysis of historical data.

Here are my Kentucky Derby bets:

  • small win bets on No. 2 Sierra Leone and No. 4 Catching Freedom. If No. 17 Fierceness buries them, so be it. These two are also proven in the slop if the weather forecast deteriorates.
  • $1 trifecta box: 2-4-17, combining these three horses
  • Small exacta cover box: 2-4, just in case Fierceness hates the wet.
  • $0.50 trifecta box 2-4-7-17, honoring Honor Marie on the closer angle.

The rest comes on Saturday after the post-parade. If it’s wet, Mystik Dan has to go on some tickets for me. Do you think a longshot runs in the top three? Then it might be a good idea to take your favorite horse first and second with five horses in the $1 trifecta. Cost for that would be $40.

There’s usually a price horse to run in the mix, making the Derby exhilarating.

Good luck with all of your Kentucky Derby bets.

Kentucky Derby Printable Cheat Sheet’s Stephen Andress has assembled several horse racing metrics into a free printable Kentucky Derby cheat sheet.

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