Kentucky Derby 2024: Exacta, Trifecta & Superfecta Picks

Fire some gunpowder now and save the rest for Saturday.

That’s my preferred betting approach to the 150th Kentucky Derby on Saturday at Churchill Downs in Louisville.

The $5 million race is already complicated, with up to 20 horses all vying at a career-long 1 1-4 miles at different stages of their improvement arc. Some horses have flattened out. Some are on the uptick. Most haven’t run in at least a month.

Nonetheless, it’s the Derby, so here are some fearless Kentucky Derby exacta, trifecta, and superfecta picks.

More: 2024 Kentucky Derby HorsesBest Horse Racing Betting Apps and Sites in 2024

2024 Kentucky Derby Early Bets

50-Cent Trifecta Box
Cost: $12
Selections: Sierra Leone (2,) Catching Freedom (4), Honor Marie (7) and Fierceness (17)

This wager incorporates most of the variables associated with the pace of this race.

Fierceness is expected to set the pace, fresh off his race-leading 110 Beyer Speed figure in the Florida Derby. The Beyer speed figure represents a number associated with the horse’s last performance. It’s a blending of track conditions, finishing time, and track record, among other things.

Any Beyer speed figure over 100 is excellent. A number of 110 would normally fast-track this 5-2 favorite to victory.

But there are concerns.

One is the pace, with Dornoch, Track Phantom, and Encino, among others, projected to push him early. If that happens, he will be vulnerable to the late charge of Catching Freedom and Sierra Leone.

Fierceness also has the 17 post, meaning he must scurry to get over quickly. He might be used early.

Sierra Leone, meanwhile, has the undesirable 2 post. He’s not a speed horse but the horse to his inside, Dornoch, is. Sierra Leone could be pinched far back in the field. If he gets position, he’s a dangerous closer. If he gets pinched, who knows?

If Fierceness runs away from the field, two of the remaining three selections in this wager must fill out the second and third positions. They are quality horses.

It’s hard to project the exact pace, hence the 4-horse box.

Win Bets on Sierra Leone (2) and Catching Freedom (4)

Sierra Leone has been a consistent closer throughout the campaign and can rally from the back and win.

The same goes for Catching Freedom, who was listed at the nice price of 8-1 on the morning line (no odds become official until post time).

These two will be charging late. If anyone bothers Fierceness, these two horses figure to pick up the pieces.

The Upsetters

Just a Touch (8) and Mystik Dan (3) belong in some of my exotics tickets.

Just a Touch gains mounting respect on the morning line and with bettors because of his improvement trajectory.

He was a game second to Deterministic in the Gotham and followed with an even better second to Sierra Leone in the Blue Grass.

He had the lead until Sierra Leone collared him late. Just a Touch was stretching out to 1 1-8 miles in that one. A similar improvement could make him an attractive exotics play.

Mystik Dan unfurled a career-high Beyer in the slop to win the Souththwest by six widening lengths. He was a more flat third in the Arkansas Derby on a fast track.

Has a better chance to be considered in the slop and the weather forecast has indicated precipitation possibility. There is a 70% chance of rain on Friday and 50% on Saturday.

If the track becomes sloppy, both Just a Touch and Mystik Dan have an improved chance.

Either way, they will go underneath on some of my tickets.

Kentucky Derby Suggestions for Bettors

* Monitor how the track is listed.

Rain has varying impacts on the track surface.

With precipitation expected on Friday and Saturday, the amount of rainfall will be important.

If the track is in the process of drying out, it will be listed as “good.” This will favor the closers, as speed horses would be expected to tire.

If the rain isn’t harmful, the track will be listed “fast.” That would be good news for Fierceness, the speed ball.

If rain inundates Louisville, the track will be listed as “slop.” Mystik Dan, Catching Freedom, and Sierra Leone have all run well in the slop. Fierceness had his worst race over this surface.

No use making this pick early, but should the track be listed “sloppy,” these horses must be played more.

* Watch races throughout Saturday. These will tell you if horses are winning from the front end or if they are rallying from back in the pack.

This is especially important for the one or two races before the Derby, which has a 6:57 p.m. ET post time.

Kentucky Derby Bombs-Away Bargains

These bets provide significant bang for the buck. What’s important here is the bet type. Gamblers can fill in what their selections on Saturday, but having a good approach — say two consistent horses in the top three spots — can set a foundation for the magic of a longshot joining them on a trifecta wager.

And longshots are a Kentucky Derby staple.

Kentucky Derby Value Bets

$1 Superfecta Key With Four Horses

This one involves shaving the bet precisely.

You can take a $1 superfecta, say 17-2 with 17-2 with 4-8 with 4-8.

That means the 17 and 2 (Fierceness and Sierra Leone) must occupy the first two finishing spots in either order. The 4 and 8, Catching Freedom and Just a Touch, must fill the third and fourth spots, in either order.

If you boxed these four horses in a $1 superfecta, it costs $24. If you take the bet like this, it costs $4.

A compromise measure could be taking all four in a 50-cent superfecta box for $12.

The $1 super paid more than $15,000 last year and a whopping $321,000 in 2022 when Rich Strike prevailed at an epic 80-1. Both races had something in common, however.

There was a fairly longshot on top, coupled with shorter prices underneath. Find the horses you like most, take them with a long-priced bomb, and maybe you get lucky.


About the Author
Dave Bontempo

Dave Bontempo

Dave Bontempo is an award-winning writer and broadcaster, who has covered the sports industry since the 1970s. He won the Sam Taub Award for Excellence in Boxing Broadcasting by the Boxing Writers Association of America in 1997, and is in the New Jersey and Atlantic City Boxing Halls of Fame. Bontempo has broadcast major fights all over the world. The advent of legalized sports wagering shifted his focus to this exciting new industry in 2018.

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