Kentucky Derby Horses 2024: Post Position Draw, Overview of the Field

This year’s Kentucky Derby (G1) is already a historic one as it marks the 150th edition of the first leg of the American Triple Crown. With its highest purse ever at $5 million, the 2024 edition of the Run for the Roses will take place on May 4 at Churchill Downs in Louisville, KY, and is set to feature an intriguing field of 3-year-olds aiming to claim the most famous test in Thoroughbred racing. 

Recent editions of the 1 1/4-miles classic have shown why bettors can not dismiss any contender in the field. The 2023 Kentucky Derby was won by Mage, who prevailed at odds of 15-1, while Rich Strike shocked the world in 2022 when he pulled the upset at 80-1.

This year’s Kentucky Derby field is set to feature reigning 2-year-old champion male Fierceness, who is aiming to join Street Sense (2007) and Nyquist (2016) as the only horses to win both the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) and the Derby. Other top contenders include Blue Grass Stakes (G1) winner Sierra Leone and undefeated Forever Young (JPN), winner of the Group 2 UAE Derby in Dubai in March.

Check out our Kentucky Derby 150 betting guide, where we offer an overview and analysis of the contenders set to complete in the 2024 Kentucky Derby with post positions and odds.

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2024 Kentucky Derby Field: Post Positions, Odds, Jockeys, Trainers

Here is the field of 2024 Kentucky Derby contenders that were entered, including their post positions, jockeys, trainers, and morning-line odds. On April 30, it was announced that Lexington Stakes (G3) winner Encino, who was 20-1 on the morning line and drew post No. 9, would be scratched from the Kentucky Derby. His defection allows Epic Ride to draw into the body of the field.

🐎 Post PositionTrainerJockeyMorning Line Odds
1. DornochDanny GarganLuis Saez20-1
2. Sierra LeoneChad Brown Tyler Gaffalione3-1
3. Mystik DanKenny McPeekBrian Hernandez Jr.20-1
4. Catching FreedomBrad CoxFlavien Prat8-1
5. CatalyticSaffie Joseph Jr.Jose Ortiz30-1
6. Just SteelD. Wayne LukasKeith Asmussen20-1
7. Honor MarieWhit BeckmanBen Curtis20-1
8. Just a TouchBrad CoxFlorent Geroux10-1
9. Encino (SCRATCHED)Brad CoxAxel ConcepcionSCRATCHED
10. T O Password (JPN)Daisuke TakayanagiKazushi Kimura30-1
11. Forever Young (JPN)Yoshito YahagiRyusei Sakai10-1
12. Track PhantomSteve AsmussenJoel Rosario20-1
13. West SaratogaLarry DemeritteJesus Castanon50-1
14. Endlessly Michael McCarthy Umberto Rispoli30-1
15. Domestic ProductChad BrownIrad Ortiz Jr.30-1
16. Grand Mo the FirstVictor Barboza Jr.Emisael Jaramillo50-1
17. Fierceness Todd Pletcher John Velazquez5-2
18. Stronghold Phil D'AmatoAntonio Fresu20-1
19. Resilience Bill Mott Junior Alvarado20-1
20. Society ManDanny GarganFrankie Dettori50-1
21. Epic RideJohn EnnisAdam Beschizza 50-1
AE 22 MugatuJeff Engler Joe Talamo50-1

Note: In the event of one or more scratches after the determination of post positions and prior to the scratch deadline, starters with post positions higher than the post position of the scratched starter will be moved to the next lowest empty post position (i.e., toward the inside rail of the race track) and the also eligible horse that becomes a starter (if any) will receive the lowest post position available after the post positions of the other starters have been moved.

Who is the Kentucky Derby Favorite?

Champion colt Fierceness was made the 5-2 favorite on the morning line for the 150th Kentucky Derby. Trained by Hall of Famer and two-time Derby winner Todd Pletcher, Fierceness demolished the field in his most recent outing, winning the Grade 1 Florida Derby by 13 1/2-lengths. 

The Florida Derby was a bounce-back effort for Fierceness after he began his season on a disappointing note when he finished third as the favorite in the Grade 3 Holy Bull Stakes on February 3. The son of City of Light earned the Eclipse Award for champion 2-year-male of 2023 off the strength of his victory in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) at Santa Anita last November. 

How Can I Bet On The Kentucky Derby?

FanDuel, an official partner of Churchill Downs, will allow users to wager on the Kentucky Derby, the Kentucky Oaks (G1), and all other races from Churchill Downs on Oaks and Derby Days.

FanDuel is the first and only sportsbook to offer wagering on horse racing alongside traditional online sports betting with a single account and single wallet. Racing fans can find betting options for the Kentucky Derby in just a couple of taps when they open the FanDuel app and then click the horse racing icon. Betting also remains available in the FanDuel Racing app.

“The Kentucky Derby is a special sports tradition, and FanDuel is proud to partner with Churchill Downs for the 150th edition of the race,” Andrew Moore, General Manager of Racing at FanDuel, said in a press release.

To celebrate Kentucky Derby 150, FanDuel will offer new and existing customers a $20 No Sweat Bet on the Kentucky Derby. All you have to do is place a single horse win wager on the Kentucky Derby through the FanDuel Sportsbook or the FanDuel Racing app, and you will get up to $20 back in bonuses if the wager doesn’t win.

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Get to Know the 2024 Kentucky Derby Contenders

PP:  1 Dornoch (Bay colt)

  • Sire: Good Magic
  • Dam: Puca, by Big Brown
  • Trainer: Danny Gargan
  • Owners: West Paces Racing LLC, R. A. Hill Stable, Belmar Racing and Breeding, LLC, Two Eight Racing, LLC and Pine Racing Stables
  • Jockey: Luis Saez
  • Record and earnings: 6-3-2-0, $552,275
  • ML Odds: 20-1
  • Last Race: Fourth in the Grade 1 Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland.

Why You Should Bet Him: Let’s start with the obvious: Dornoch is a full brother to 2023 Kentucky Derby winner Mage, so we know the pedigree is a proven one at 10 furlongs. After capping his juvenile season with a victory in the Grade 2 Remsen, Dornoch got his sophomore year off to a strong start with a victory in the Grade 2 Fountain of Youth Stakes at Gulfstream on March 2.

Why You Should Save Your Money: His non-threatening effort in the Blue Grass Stakes had the look of a horse going the wrong way at the wrong time. His training since has been fine, but not the kind to get the bandwagon back on board. Remsen winners also have a lousy record in the Kentucky Derby over the last couple of decades, with Thunder Gulch (1994) the last horse to pull the Remsen-Kentucky Derby double.

What They’re Saying: “He kind of resented the dirt in his face (in the Blue Grass), but he has to learn to take the dirt. We’ll bounce back and run big the next time. I think we might have run a bit of a flat horse (in the Blue Grass), but we’ll come back (in the Derby) and have one that’s really ready to run.” – Trainer Danny Gargan.

PP: 2 Sierra Leone (Dark bay colt)

  • Sire: Gun Runner
  • Dam:  Heavenly Love, by Malibu Moon
  • Trainer: Chad Brown
  • Owners: Peter Brant, Mrs. John Magnier, Michael Tabor, Derrick Smith, Westerberg, and Brook T. Smith
  • Jockey: Tyler Gaffalione
  • Record and earnings: 4-3-1-0, $918,000
  • ML Odds: 3-1
  • Last Race: Won Grade 1 Blue Grass Stakes by 1 1/2 lengths.

Why You Should Bet Him: Physically, Sierra Leone looks every bit the $2.3 million his owners paid for him at public auction and he has justified much of those aspirations with his on-track efforts. His lone defeat came when he was second by a nose to Dornoch in the Grade 2 Remsen Stakes last December – and given the poor record of Remsen winners in the Kentucky Derby, that loss may have been a blessing in disguise. He put in emphatic rally from well back to win the Risen Star (G2) and Blue Grass Stakes and has a pedigree that suggests 10 furlongs in well within his scope.

Why You Should Save Your Money: Being a stone-cold closer means you are pace-dependent to make your best run, so how things shake out on the front end in the Derby will dictate part of his fate (he got an ideal pace to close into in the Blue Grass). He also was fractious at the gate while loading before the Blue Grass Stakes – something to be mindful of given the crowd of 150,000 likely to be on hand Derby day. But Brown said he has set up extra gate schooling for the colt at Churchill Downs.

What They’re Saying: “I really don’t anticipate any problems (at the gate). He’s really never been much of a problem at the gate. He’s a good-feeling horse – a nice horse to work around.

“He’s a very alpha horse. He’s definitely in charge of what’s going on everywhere, and we give him his space and we let him be him. He’s a very rare horse to have in your shedrow.” – Trainer Chad Brown

PP: 3 Mystik Dan (Bay colt)

  • Sire: Goldencents
  • Dam: Ma’am, by Colonel John
  • Trainer: Kenny McPeek
  • Owners: Lance Gasaway, 4 G racing LLC, and Valley View Farm LLC
  • Jockey: Brian Hernandez, Jr.
  • Record and earnings: 6-2-1-1, $641,360
  • ML Odds: 20-1
  • Last Race: Third in the Grade 1 Arkansas Derby

Why You Should Bet Him: He raised some eyebrows when he captured the Grade 3 Southwest Stakes by eight lengths over a sealed, muddy Oaklawn Park surface. Ken McPeek has yet to win a Kentucky Derby. Still, his resume has some classic upsets, including saddling the filly Swiss Skydiver to victory over eventual Horse of the Year Authentic in the 2020 Preakness Stakes (G1).

Why You Should Save Your Money: That Southwest win may have resulted from a freak effort over a wet track favoring inside speed. It might be a cut below class-wise.

What They’re Saying: “His race in the Southwest was ultra impressive. It was seven weeks between races (to the Arkansas Derby), but he ran well. He wasn’t overtaxed in the preps, which sets him up well. He’s real agile, he has a good turn of foot, turns it over quick. We’ve had to kind of retool him to go longer…but he’s got a ton of talent. Now it’s just a matter of timing and things coming together.” – Trainer Kenny McPeek

PP: 4 Catching Freedom (Bay colt)

  • Sire: Constitution
  • Dam: Catch My Drift, by Pioneerof the Nile
  • Trainer: Brad Cox
  • Owner: Albaugh Family Stables
  • Jockey: Flavien Prat
  • Record and earnings: 5-3-0-1 $877,350
  • ML Odds: 8-1
  • Last Race: Won Grade 2 Louisiana Derby by one length.

Why You Should Bet Him: He was able to close from last in the Louisiana Derby despite some tepid fractions up front and already owns a win over the Churchill Downs surface, having broken his maiden there last October. You want a horse on an upward trajectory heading into the biggest race of their life, and Catching Freedom looks to be improving at the right time.

Why You Should Save Your Money: Similar to Sierra Leone, Catching Freedom is going to have to work out a trip for himself since he will likely be well off the early pace in the Derby.

What They’re Saying: “I didn’t think there was a lot of pace (in the Louisiana Derby), and for him to close into that pace shows he’s a really good horse and that he’s able to run good horses down. He seems to have moved forward since. He is a horse who will run on the inside of horses, and if he’s in a tight spot, he’ll carry himself up.

“Hopefully, if he can take another step forward, he’ll be a major factor in the Derby. There always seems to be more pace than expected (in the Derby).” – Trainer Brad Cox

PP: 5 Catalytic (Bay colt)

  • Sire: Catalina Cruiser
  • Dam: One Show Only, by Distorted Humor
  • Trainer: Saffie Joseph, Jr.
  • Owners: Tami Bobo, Julie Davies, and George G. Isaacs
  • Jockey: Jose Ortiz
  • Record and earnings: 3-1-2-0, $216,825
  • ML Odds: 30-1
  • Last Race: Second in the Grade 1 Florida Derby.

Why You Should Bet Him: He has an eerily similar route to the first Saturday in May as last year’s Kentucky Derby winner, Mage. He also comes in with only three career starts and signaled his potential with a runner-up effort in the Florida Derby. Granted, he was more than 13 lengths behind Fierceness that day, but he was a clear second-best in his first try against graded stakes company.

Why You Should Save Your Money: Again, he only has three career starts and outside of Fierceness, the Florida Derby didn’t exactly attract the toughest field.

What They’re Saying: “Normally, when you get beat 13 lengths, you won’t be too happy, but we were beaten, obviously, by a special horse (in the Florida Derby). I thought some good horses finished behind him, so that’s what makes me feel like he ran well.

“At the quarter-pole, it looked like he was going to be second, but I also saw them fade after chasing a good horse. I thought he continued on well enough. He was in a different race and beat the other horses.” – Trainer Saffie Joseph, Jr.

PP: 6 Just Steel (Bay colt)

  • Sire: Justify
  • Dam: Irish Lights (AUS), by Fastnet Rock (AUS)
  • Trainer: D. Wayne Lukas
  • Owner: BC Stables
  • Jockey: Keith Asmussen
  • Record and earnings: 11-2-4-1, $724,545
  • ML Odds: 20-1
  • Last Race: Second in the Grade 1 Arkansas Derby.

Why You Should Bet Him: Dismiss the 88-year-old legend that is four-time Derby-winning trainer D. Wayne Lukas at your own risk. The old ball coach takes the old-school approach of running his horses into form, which is why Just Steel is a veteran of 11 starts already in his young career. The colt bounced back from a seventh-place effort in Rebel Stakes (G2), where he had to come from post 11 with a much better effort in Arkansas, where he was well clear of third-place finisher Mystik Dan.

Why You Should Save Your Money: While Just Steel has held his own against better company, he has only found the win column twice, the most recent time coming when he captured the Ed Brown Stakes at Churchill Downs last November.

What They’re Saying: “When he won the Ed Brown, he was just developing. He’s a very large horse, and he wasn’t as mature as he is now. He’s got a mother who won classic races in Australia, so he has a lot going pedigree-wise.

“I’m starting to look at (the Arkansas Derby), and that race is coming up a strong race (on the numbers). I’m the old man now, but I have a little experience that might help me. I’ve definitely got a horse who I think has talent – his last race was his best one. So I’m going to lead that horse over with some confidence I can win it.” – Trainer D. Wayne Lukas

PP:  7 Honor Marie (Bay colt)

  • Sire: Honor Code
  • Dam: Dame Marie, by Smart Strike
  • Trainer: Whit Beckman
  • Owners: Ribble Farms LLC, Michael H. Eiserman, Earl Silver, Kenneth E. Fishbein and Dave Fishbein.
  • Jockey: Ben Curtis
  • Record and earnings: 5-2-2-0, $526,175
  • ML Odds: 20-1
  • Last Race: Second in the Grade 2 Louisiana Derby.

Why You Should Bet Him: Other than his fifth-place finish in the Grade 2 Risen Star Stakes, Honor Marie hasn’t been worse than second in his career, including his runner-up effort in the Louisiana Derby last time out. He is 2-for-3 at Churchill Downs, with his best outing coming when he captured the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes (G2) there last November.

Why You Should Save Your Money: He’s another who does his best running from well back, so he’s going to have to find a gear he has yet to demonstrate at the top level in order to pass what figures to be a ton of rivals in the stretch of the Derby.

What They’re Saying: “I think coming back over this track, we know he appreciates this surface. The training up into the Risen Star was tough – we had a lot of weather issues and things that were unpredictable at the time. Then, in the Louisiana Derby, I thought he had made a big jump forward. Coming into this, he seems like he’s really taken the next step. I think this horse has as good a stamina pedigree as any.” – Trainer Whit Beckman

PP:Just a Touch (Bay colt)

  • Sire: Justify
  • Dam: Touching Beauty, by Tapit
  • Trainer: Brad Cox
  • Owners: Qatar Racing, LLC, Resolute Racing and Marc Detampel
  • Jockey: Florent Geroux
  • Record and earnings: 3-1-2-0, $281,700
  • ML Odds: 10-1
  • Last Race: Second in the Grade 1 Blue Grass Stakes.

Why You Should Bet Him: This lightly raced son of Justify began his career with a maiden win on January 27 but has acquitted himself well in his two tries against graded company. Following a runner-up effort in the Gotham Stakes (G3), he sat off a hot pace in the Blue Grass Stakes, took the lead in the upper stretch, and still had enough in reserve to grab place honors behind Sierra Leone.

Why You Should Save Your Money: With only three starts to his credit, he hasn’t had the learning experiences that are often necessary when navigating the calvary charge that is the Kentucky Derby.

What They’re Saying: “He’s a good colt, and (the Blue Grass) was his first run around two turns there. (The pace) softened him up a bit but I think he got a good bit out of it, he galloped out well. He’s bred to get the 1 1/4-miles distance. I’ve loved what I’ve seen from him all winter.” – Trainer Brad Cox

PP: 9 Encino (SCRATCHED)

 

PP: 10 T O Password (JPN) (Bay colt)

  • Sire: Copano Rickey (JPN)
  • Dam: T. O Rachel (JPN), by King
  • Trainer: Daisuke Takayanagi
  • Owner: Tomoya Ozasa
  • Jockey: Kazushi Kimura
  • Record and earnings: 4-3-10, $378,315
  • ML Odds: 30-1
  • Last Race: Won Fukuryu Stakes at Nakayama on March 23.

Why You Should Bet Him: T O Password was invited to compete in the Kentucky Derby for accruing 40 points in the Japan Road to the Kentucky Derby series with his win in the Fukuryu Stakes, where he led all the way. His sire, Copano Rickey, is a grandson of  1989 Kentucky Derby winner and Hall of Famer Sunday Silence

Why You Should Save Your Money: He has only made two career starts and has not raced since the Fukuryu Stakes.

What They’re Saying: “I didn’t change any training with T O Password going into the Derby. We have a long travel schedule and it’s a lot different environment compared to Japan. I’d like to make a similar Japanese training style over the Churchill Downs track.

“T O Password had a good jump out of the gate in his last two starts, so naturally, he had a good position. But we aren’t sure if we’ll have that good of a position in the Kentucky Derby.” – Trainer Daisuke Takayanagi

PP: 11 Forever Young (JPN) (Bay colt)

  • Sire: Real Steel (JPN)
  • Dam: Forever Darling, by Congrats
  • Trainer: Yoshito Yahagi
  • Owner: Susumu Fujita
  • Jockey: Ryusei Sakai
  • Record and earnings: 5-5-0-0, $2,049,451
  • ML Odds: 10-1
  • Last Race: Won Group 2 UAE Derby at Meydan Racecourse by two lengths.

Why You Should Bet Him: Japan-based horses have had mountains of success on the international stage in recent years, and Forever Young might be the best prospect they have brought to the first leg of the Triple Crown. The unbeaten colt won the Saudi Derby (G3) despite his connections saying he was not in top condition due to traveling from Japan and was much improved by the time he raced in Dubai. He has impressed onlookers with his training since arriving at Churchill Downs.

Why You Should Save Your Money: It’s a tall ask for any horse to win the Kentucky Derby, never mind one making their North American debut. The record of UAE Derby winners in the Kentucky Derby is also dismal, with none hitting the board in 19 tries.

What They’re Saying: “He’s a very fast closing horse. He has that late kick. He’s a very unique horse. He’s never been beaten, he doesn’t need much to get going.” – Jockey Ryusei Sakai

PP: 12 Track Phantom (Bay colt)

  • Sire: Quality Road
  • Dam: Miss Sunset, by Into Mischief
  • Trainer: Steve Asmussen
  • Owners: L and N Racing LLC, Clark Brewster, Jerry Caroom, and Breeze Easy LLC
  • Jockey: Joel Rosario
  • Record and earnings: 7-3-2-1, $405,000
  • ML Odds: 20-1
  • Last Race: Fourth in the Grade 2 Louisiana Derby

Why You Should Bet Him: He broke his maiden at Churchill Downs in his third asking, winning by 4 3/4 lengths in a 1 1/16-miles test last November. He opened his 2024 campaign with a gate-to-wire victory in the Grade 3 Lecomte and was beaten just a half-length by Sierra Leone after setting the pace in the Grade 2 Risen Star Stakes at Fair Grounds.

Why You Should Save Your Money: He faded to fourth in the Louisiana Derby after being able to set thoroughly reasonable fractions up front, not a great sign with 10 furlongs looming ahead of him on Derby day.

What They’re Saying: “I think he’s always had a lot of talent, a great attitude, and a good mover. You just have to continue to develop and get faster. I think he will handle the circumstances of the Derby and all its pageantry extremely well and show his best side.

“He jumps well from the gates and is a very handy horse. But I don’t think he is a horse that has to be on the lead. I definitely expect more pace in the Kentucky Derby.” – Trainer Steve Asmussen

PP: 13 West Saratoga (Gray or roan colt)

  • Sire: Exaggerator
  • Dam: Mo Wicked, by Uncle Mo
  • Trainer: Larry Demeritte
  • Owner: Harry L. Veruchi
  • Jockey: Jesus Castanon
  • Record and earnings: 10-2-5-1, $460,140
  • ML Odds: 50-1
  • Last Race: Second in the Grade 3 Jeff Ruby Steaks at Turfway Park.

Why You Should Bet Him: His lone graded stakes victory came beneath the Twin Spires when he captured the Grade 3 Iroquois Stakes going one mile at Churchill Downs last September, and he’s been worse than third just twice in 10 starts.

Why You Should Save Your Money: He was well beaten when third in the Sam F. Davis Stakes (G3) at Tampa Bay Downs on February 10, and his most recent prep came over an all-weather surface at Turfway. Most importantly, West Saratoga has yet to show he can handle a step up in a class against improved competition.

What They’re Saying: “He still has to get there. We are preparing to win, and everybody feels the same. Hey, I might be a first-time starter (in the Derby), but I’m not a rookie. I love being over there on Derby Day. I have been in a lot of Derbies – the Ohio Derby, Indiana Derby – but this is the ultimate Derby.” – Trainer Larry Demeritte

PP: 14 Endlessly (Dark bay colt)

  • Sire: Oscar Performance
  • Dam: Dream Fuhrever, by Langfuhr
  • Trainer: Michael McCarthy
  • Owner: Amerman Racing
  • Jockey: Umberto Rispoli
  • Record and earnings: 6-5-0-0, $707,200
  • ML Odds: 30-1
  • Last Race: Won the Grade 3 Jeff Ruby Steaks

Why You Should Bet Him: While his pedigree and race record says this is a horse best suited to turf and/or synthetic surfaces, the Churchill Downs main track has historically played kindly to horses with more aptitude on the grass. Animal Kingdom won the 2011 Kentucky Derby after taking what was then called the Spiral Stakes over the all-weather track at Turfway Park, and two-time Horse of the Year Wise Dan earned his lone Grade 1 win on the dirt at Churchill Downs.

Why You Should Save Your Money: His own trainer thinks he is better suited to remaining on the turf.

What They’re Saying: “Obviously, his best races have been on the turf. If I thought he was a dirt horse, I may have tried it on it a while ago. The style which he is most comfortable running, tucking in behind the speed, is conducive to the grass. It would be a big thrill to run a horse in the Kentucky Derby, but it takes the right horse.” – Trainer Michael McCarthy

PP: 15 Domestic Product (Dark bay colt)

  • Sire: Practical Joke
  • Dam: Goods and Services, by Paynter
  • Trainer: Chad Brown
  • Owner: Klaravich Stables
  • Jockey: Irad Ortiz Jr.
  • Record and earnings: 5-2-1-0, $314,200
  • ML Odds: 30-1
  • Last Race: Won the Grade 3 Tampa Bay Derby

Why You Should Bet Him: In the Tampa Bay Derby, they were absolutely walking on the front end through a half mile in 51.14 seconds, and Domestic Product was still able to close to get up by a neck over No More Time. Similarly, he finished a good second in the Holy Bull after another slow half, so if he gets honest fractions to work with, he could be a real sleeper pick.

Why You Should Save Your Money: Trying to win the Derby off an eight-week layoff is a bold ask, but few are better at bringing a horse in fresh than Chad Brown.

What They’re Saying: “This horse continues to be very impressive. I’m happy I decided not to run him after the Tampa Bay Derby because he keeps getting stronger, he’s really refilled his tank so to speak.

“He has a good chance in the Derby as well. He’s got positional speed, so he won’t be on the lead, but he’ll be ahead of the closers. He’s a horse who has been screaming for some pace to run at. If he gets pace to run at, I’m confident he’ll get a mile and a quarter.” – Trainer Chad Brown

PP: 16 Grand Mo the First (Dark bay colt)

  • Sire: Uncle Mo
  • Dam: Lilies So Fair, by Giant’s Causeway
  • Trainer: Victor Barboza, Jr.
  • Owner: Granpollo Stable
  • Jockey: Emisael Jaramillo
  • Record and earnings: 6-2-0-4, $214,650
  • ML Odds: 50-1
  • Last Race: Third in the Grade 1 Florida Derby

Why You Should Bet Him: He has been a consistent horse throughout his career, never finishing worse than third. He held his own in the Tampa Bay Derby (G3) and Florida Derby, so it wouldn’t be the craziest thing to see him hit the board on Derby day.

Why You Should Save Your Money: Hasn’t won since taking an allowance race at Gulfstream Park last September.

What They’re Saying: “I’m very happy for my first opportunity to be in the Derby. I’ve been looking for the Derby since he ran in the Florida Derby. The horse is a happy horse.” – Trainer Victor Barboza

PP: 17 Fierceness (Bay colt)

  • Sire: City of Light
  • Dam:  Nonna Bella, by Stay Thirsty
  • Trainer: Todd Pletcher
  • Owner: Repole Stable
  • Jockey: John Velazquez 
  • Record and earnings: 5-3-0-1, $1,703,850
  • ML Odds: 5-2
  • Last Race: Won Grade 1 Florida Derby by 13 1/2 lengths. 

Why You Should Bet Him: When he’s on his game and gets his ideal setup, no classmate can match Fierceness regarding speed and talent. His Florida Derby triumph was awe-inspiring, as was the way he simply buried the competition on the front end. Similarly, he made things look, oh, so easy when he captured the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile last November by 6 1/4 lengths. For those who are students of speed figures, he’s your clear top choice. 

Why You Should Save Your Money: You don’t know which version of Fierceness is going to show up on Derby Day – the one who cantered home in the Florida Derby or the one who was a lackluster third in the Holy Bull (G3) on February 3. He has yet to string together consecutive victories and hasn’t handled things well when faced with adversity. On his day, he’s brilliant. But he’s likely going to have a lot of straws in his path in a 20-horse field. 

What They’re Saying: “Sixty percent of the time, he wins every time. If you go back and look at the replay of his losses, they’re very similar. In the Champagne (seventh last October) he hopped at the start and got bumped pretty solidly and took him out of his rhythm a bit. If you watch the Holy Bull…he got sandwiched from both sides, and he got a little bit rank around the first turn. It was a pretty rough quarter of a mile in the beginning.

“Thankfully, things went much smoother in the Florida Derby, and he was able to show what he was all about. It’s kind of scary to think there might be some improvement there.” – Trainer Todd Pletcher

PP: 18 Stronghold (Bay colt)

  • Sire: Ghostzapper
  • Dam: Spectator, by Jimmy Creed
  • Trainer: Phil D’Amato 
  • Owners: Eric Waller and Sharon Waller
  • Jockey: Antonio Fresu
  • Record and earnings: 6-3-3-0, $827,200
  • ML Odds: 20-1
  • Last Race: Won Grade 1 Santa Anita Derby by a neck. 

Why You Should Bet Him: Stronghold showed he could handle himself in a fight when he out-battled favored Imagination in the late stretch to score by a neck in the Santa Anita Derby. The son of Ghostzapper had previously won the Sunland Park Derby (G3) and broke his maiden at Churchill Downs last October. He has enough tactical speed to be the one sitting in that flight not far off the pacesetters in the Kentucky Derby. 

Why You Should Save Your Money: How you view Stronghold depends on how you view the strength of the California-based sophomores. They don’t get the depth of shippers out there for their preps so there are questions about the strength of who he has faced. But if you believe Hall of Famer Bob Baffert – who remains banned from entering horses at Churchill Downs – has one of the most talented runners in Imagination, your opinion of Stronghold goes up. 

What They’re Saying:He didn’t really get the easiest trip coming around the turn (in the Santa Anita Derby), but luckily, he was able to squeeze through a small hole there and prove that he can be the best when it comes down to the wire. I think this was a great education for him, and a nice test that he’s going to need to win a race like the Kentucky Derby.” – Trainer Phil D’Amato

PP: 19 Resilience (Bay colt)

  • Sire: Into Mischief
  • Dam: Meadowsweet, by Smart Strike
  • Trainer: Bill Mott 
  • Owners: Emily Bushnell and Ric Waldman 
  • Jockey: Junior Alvarado
  • Record and earnings: 6-2-2-1, $494,630
  • ML Odds: 20-1
  • Last Race: Won Grade 2 Wood Memorial by 2 1/4 lengths 

Why You Should Bet Him: Trainer Bill Mott added blinkers to Resilience following a fourth-place run in the Grade 2 Risen Star, and the increased focus paid off straight away when the colt kicked clear past foes in the lane of the Wood Memorial. Has shown good energy in training, including posting two workouts in five days at Churchill Downs. 

Why You Should Save Your Money: You can only beat who shows up, but the field behind Resilience in the Wood doesn’t appear to be the strongest of the Derby preps. This is evidenced by the fact that a 106-1 shot Society Man got up for second, followed by a 38-1 shot Protective in third. 

What They’re Saying: “Everyone was high on this horse from the time he left the farm to when he came to us. He was a little bit slow developing…he went through a stage when he was a bit green around horses. We put blinkers on him to keep him more focused, and it seemed to work out last time, certainly. He’s doing things the right way, the things you want to see coming into a race.” – Trainer Bill Mott

PP: 20 Society Man (Chestnut colt)

  • Sire: Good Magic
  • Dam: You Cheated, by Colonel John
  • Trainer: Danny Gargan
  • Owners: West Paces Racing LLC, Danny Gargan, and GMP Stables LLC  
  • Jockey: Frankie Dettori 
  • Record and earnings: 5-1-1-1, $196,705
  • ML Odds: 50-1
  • Last Race: Second in the Grade 2 Wood Memorial.

Why You Should Bet Him: Society Man may have been 106-1 in the Wood Memorial, but if we learned anything from Rich Strike’s victory in the 2022 Kentucky Derby, no horse can be counted out if they make it to the starting gate for the first leg of the Triple Crown. The Wood Memorial was a huge improvement over his eighth-place finish in the Grade 3 Withers Stakes, so he is on the right side of the trajectory. 

Why You Should Save Your Money: He only broke his maiden on March 9, having lost his prior three outings. They would have to take a monster step forward in form to be competitive in the Derby. 

What They’re Saying: “What a race he ran (in the Wood). I was super proud of him, and I thought for a minute he was going to get there. We’ve always liked him. We ran him in the Withers as a maiden, and he just didn’t get any trip at all that day. We threw it out and came back.

“His maiden win was super impressive. He has a fast turn of foot, and he’s a more relaxed horse. He’ll kick home, he’s a cool horse.” – Trainer Danny Gargan

PP: 21 Epic Ride (Bay colt)

  • Sire: Blame
  • Dam: Pick a Time, by Gio Ponti 
  • Trainer: John Ennis
  • Owner: Welch Racing
  • Jockey: Adam Beschizza
  • Record and earnings: 5-2-2-1,  $378,315
  • ML Odds: 50-1
  • Last Race: Third in the Grade 1 Blue Grass Stakes. 

Why You Should Bet Him: Epic Ride has been nothing if not consistent in his career. The son of Blame has not been worse than third in his five starts and gave a good account of himself in the Blue Grass Stakes, which was his first race on the dirt. 

Why You Should Save Your Money: His only victories have come over the all-weather track at Turfway so he may ultimately be better suited for racing on the turf. 

What They’re Saying: “I think he’s entitled to have a shot (in the Derby). He’s a lovely horse and he’s going to be a nice horse later in the year. He’s an ultimate professional horse. Mentally he is a complete pro.” – Trainer John Ennis

Kentucky Derby 150 Quick Facts

  • When: May 4, 2024
  • Where: At Churchill Downs
  • Post time: 6:57 p.m. ET
  • Highest $2 win mutuel payout: Donerail (1913) -$184.90
  • Lowest $2 win mutuel payout: Count Fleet (1943) and Citation (1948) – $2.80
  • Last morning-line favorite to win the Kentucky Derby: Justify (2018) ML: 3-1; Final odds: 2.90-1
About the Author
Alicia Hughes

Alicia Hughes

Senior Writer
Alicia Hughes is a senior writer and award-winning horse racing journalist at Gaming Today. She previously served as a digital content editor for TVG and racing editor for The Blood-Horse following 12 years at the Lexington Herald-Leader. A graduate of Pace University in New York and a diehard New Jersey Devils fan, Hughes is a past president of the National Turf Writers and Broadcasters Association.

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