Kentucky Derby 2024: Honor Marie can hit peak form

Betting the Kentucky Derby is one of the most exciting things you can do all year long, and it is coming up at Churchill Downs on Saturday, May 4. The 20-horse field is bigger than you’ll ever see in another American race. The horses are all top-class, and they’re all trying a new challenge of a 1 ¼-mile distance. And, the purse has been raised to a colossal $5 million, an increase of $2 million over 2023.

Keep on reading to find out the best horses in the Run for the Roses, and the best places to bet on the Kentucky Derby online.

Where to Bet the Kentucky Derby

Even before you start handicapping the race, you can maximize your profits by choosing the right online sportsbook to play the Kentucky Derby online. You have many choices, but our expert online sportsbook reviews are here to help you make that decision quickly and easily. Every site we recommend has the basics: trusted payouts, great user interfaces, and the market-leading odds you want.

All of our recommended horse racing betting sites also offer great bonuses for Kentucky Derby bettors that you’ll never find on track. Taking a few minutes now to read our reviews is the best decision you can make, since they will help you find the best sign-up bonuses, deposit bonuses, rebates, or referral incentives for your betting style.  Then, get ready to build your bankroll while you bet the Kentucky Derby, and also horse races and sports all year!

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Kentucky Derby Horses and Odds

This is the official field for the 2024 Kentucky Derby including post positions, trainers, jockeys, and morning-line odds:

  1. Dornoch (Danny Gargan/Luis Saez) – 20/1
  2. Sierra Leone (Chad Brown/Tyler Gaffalione) – 3/1
  3. Mystik Dan (Kenny McPeek/Brian Hernandez, Jr.) – 20/1
  4. Catching Freedom (Brad Cox/Flavien Prat) – 8/1
  5. Catalytic (Saffie Joseph, Jr./Jose Ortiz) – 30/1
  6. Just Steel (D. Wayne Lukas/Keith Asmussen) – 20/1
  7. Honor Marie (Whit Beckman/Ben Curtis) – 20/1
  8. Just a Touch (Brad Cox/Florent Geroux) – 10/1
  9. Encino (Brad Cox/Axel Concepcion) – 20/1
  10. T O Password (Daisuke Takayanagi/Kazushi Kimura) – 30/1
  11. Forever Young (Yoshito Yahagi/Ryusei Sakei) – 10/1
  12. Track Phantom (Steve Asmussen/Joel Rosario) – 20-1
  13. West Saratoga (Larry Demeritte/Jesus Castanon) – 50/1
  14. Endlessly (Michael McCarthy/Umberto Rispoli) – 30/1
  15. Domestic Product (Chad Brown/Irad Ortiz) – 30/1
  16. Grand Mo the First (Victor Barboza, Jr./Emisael Jaramillo) – 50/1
  17. Fierceness (Todd Pletcher/John Velazquez) – 5/2
  18. Stronghold (Phil D’Amato/Antonio Fresu) – 20/1
  19. Resilience (Bill Mott/Junior Alvarado) – 20/1
  20. Society Man (Danny Gargan/Frankie Dettori) – 50/1
  21. Epic Ride (John Ennis/Adam Beschizza) – ALSO ELIGIBLE
  22. Mugatu (Jeff Engler/Joe Talamo) – ALSO ELIGIBLE

Epic Ride and Mugatu will only draw in, in that order of priority, if horses scratch from the main field before 9:00 a.m. Friday morning, when Kentucky Derby betting begins.

The morning line can be a useful handicapping aid, but it is not a guaranteed betting price. Prices on track shift all the way until post time. Thus, your best bet is to play the Kentucky Derby at a trusted online sportsbook. Since online betting sites give you fixed odds on major races like the Kentucky Derby, you can lock in the best price just by betting and then know exactly what you’ll get when you win!

These are the odds on the leading 2024 Kentucky Derby contenders:

BovadaBetOnline ReviewBetUS Review
Sierra Leone+400+330+300
Forever Young+850+1000+900
Just a Touch+1100+1200+1100
Honor Marie+1600+2000+1900

Free Kentucky Derby Picks

With your account at hand, it is time to meet the major contenders for the 2024 Kentucky Derby. With such a big field trying a testing 1 ¼-mile distance, it is no surprise that the horses who run well tend to be a mixture of favorites and long shots year in and year out. Keep reading to find out which horses can make your straight bets and exotics alike pay big!

Kentucky Derby Best Bet

Honor Marie is the best bet in the Kentucky Derby. Though he comes in off a second-place finish in the Louisiana Derby, he found his best in the third start of his form cycle last year and comes into the Kentucky Derby in his third start this year. He moved forward from the Risen Star (G2) to the Louisiana Derby (G2), and should love the stretch out to 1 ¼ miles.

Honor MarieTo win the Kentucky Derby
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Honor Marie is also well proven at Churchill Downs. He won the Kentucky Jockey Club (G2) there last year, and a recent workout suggests he is thriving on the return. He also gets the perfect pace setup, with so much speed like Dornoch, Track Phantom, and Fierceness. He can break from an excellent middle gate and get exactly the right trip.

Kentucky Derby Logical Favorites

Sierra Leone, likely to be the second betting choice, did draw a challenging gate: the two-hole. That could lead to some traffic trouble, either when he finds a place to settle or when he tries to get out for running room. But, he is enough of a closer that this isn’t a given. And, he is a closer who can start a run early and sustain it well, as he did in the Blue Grass. With plenty of pace to chase, he’ll be a major threat down the lane.

Sierra LeoneTo win the Kentucky Derby
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Jockey Flavien Prat has hit the board in five of the six editions of the Kentucky Derby in which he has ridden, proving he knows how to ride the course well. And, he returns with a live one this year in Louisiana Derby (G2) winner Catching Freedom. He is well bred for distance, he has been improving as the prep race distances get longer, and he is another who should be able to tuck in off the pace and launch a strong late rally.

Kentucky Derby Exotics Horses

Encino took an unconventional road to the Kentucky Derby, with wins in the John Battaglia Memorial, a minor prep at Turfway, and then the last-ditch, 20-point Lexington (G3) at Keeneland. This means he has class to prove. But, he is versatile enough to be near the front or come from midfield, his pedigree is classic stamina through and through, and he is improving at the right time.

Just Steel is also interesting for underneath shares. The iron horse of the Arksansas prep series, he ran second in three of the four points races including the Arkansas Derby. He has some versatility as to where he can sit in the field, and he has some appealing stamina pedigree to suggest he can run on for a piece at 1 ¼ miles.

Kentucky Derby Bet-Againsts

Two of the horses who are likely to take high betting interest are worth taking a stand against in the Kentucky Derby.

Fierceness, the morning-line favorite, drew about as well as he could draw but a similar thing happened in the Holy Bull: he drew a clean near-outside gate, should have gotten the run of the race, and a less-than-optimal start doomed him. Of course Fierceness is brilliant on his best, but between his inconsistency and the likelihood of a hot pace with him, the blinkers-on Track Phantom, and Dornoch at the very least? He is a serious underlay.

It’s also worth taking a stand against Forever Young. Sure, he can run late, and his performance in the Saudi Derby (G3) and UAE Derby (G2) lends credence to the idea that he is the best Japan-based contender for the Derby yet. But, he still is not as class-tested as the rest of the contenders who will be similarly priced, and the UAE Derby still has yet to produce a horse who has hit the board.

Kentucky Derby Free Picks

Now all that’s left to do is bet the race! These are your free Kentucky Derby expert picks for the 2024 Kentucky Derby:

  • $20 win/place/show: #7 Honor Marie
  • $1 Exacta Key: #7 Honor Marie with #2 Sierra Leone, #4 Catching Freedom
  • $1 Trifecta Key: #7 Honor Marie with #2 Sierra Leone, #4 Catching Freedom, #6 Just Steel, #9 Encino
  • $1 Superfecta Key: #7 Honor Marie with #2 Sierra Leone, #4 Catching Freedom, #6 Just Steel, #9 Encino
Honor MarieTo win the Kentucky Derby
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Kentucky Derby Day Handicapping

Even though the Kentucky Derby is the featured race at Churchill Downs on May 6, there are eight other major stakes races on the card. These are the top horses to consider in each of those races. You can make a lot of money through the card by playing all the races, including an all-stakes Pick 6.

  • $175,000 Knicks Go Overnight Stakes: #8 Strava, #6 Best Actor
  • $500,000 Twin Spires Turf Sprint (G2): #14 Cogburn, #8 Mischief Magic
  • $750,000 Derby City Distaff (G1): #9 Red Carpet Ready, #10 Vahva, #7 Alva Starr
  • $500,000 Distaff Turf Mile (G2): #7 Evvie Jets, #3 Chili Flag
  • $500,000 Pat Day Mile (G2): #9 Frosty Indulgence, #12 Nash, #5 Seize the Grey
  • $500,000 American Turf (G2): #4 Formidable Man, #5 Legend of Time, #14 Agate Road
  • $750,000 Churchill Downs Stakes (G1): #6 Zozos
  • $1 million Turf Classic (G1): #8 Never Surprised, #5 Program Trading, #4 Far Bridge
Rowan Ward

They have been attending the races regularly for over ten years, since catching the horse racing bug at the 2013 Arlington Million. Since then their writing has appeared in their own blog and across the horse racing internet. They are still at Hawthorne for every day of live racing, and their focuses within horse racing include national stakes races, local Chicago-area racing, and pedigree.