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The Grueling Truth - Where Legends Speak / Betting Tips / 150th Kentucky Derby: Odds, Tips and Predictions

150th Kentucky Derby: Odds, Tips and Predictions

Horse Racing Betting Tips Β· - Β·

Publish Date: 05/02/2024
Fact checked by: Mark Lewis

NBC Sports will feature 12 1/2 hours of racing coverage this May 4, from 2:30-7:30 p.m. ET until the conclusion of the 150th Kentucky Derby (G1).

Churchill Downs has announced that post time for its milestone Derby will take place at 6:57 p.m. ET. Coverage on USA Network will start at noon ET and lead into the national show.

On Friday from 1-6 p.m. ET, USA Network will broadcast comprehensive coverage of the Kentucky Oaks race for 3-year-old fillies – also celebrating its 150th edition! Additionally, live coverage can be seen both days on Peacock. Check out our guide to Horse Racing betting so you know exactly how to bet.

Kentucky Derby

Kentucky Derby TV & Streaming Schedule

Friday, May 3

1/noon c: Kentucky Oaks, USA Network/Peacock

Saturday, May 4

Noon/11a c: Kentucky Derby, USA Network/Peacock

2:30/1:30c: Kentucky Derby, NBC/Peacock

Our Best Pick: Sierra Leone to Win

Sierra Leone had one of the fastest races of this year’s Kentucky Derby at Blue Grass Stakes, earning a 107 Equibase Speed Figure – an improvement on his debut victory at Risen Star Stakes where he garnered only 98 speed figures. Sierra Leone made his mark as a 2-year-old and in just his second start at Remsen Stakes last November as only seventh with a quarter of a mile left to run, strikingly breaking from seventh into a decisive move, Sierra Leone made his move early and led until inexperience led him downhill; waiting too long for an opponent allowed pacesetter Dornoch to close from behind and beat Sierra Leone by a narrow margin. Check out some great new betting sites if you are tired of the same old site all the time.

Sierra Leone returned for her 3-year-old debut race at Santa Anita Park on February 14, with trainer Chad Brown adding blinkers. Sierra Leone used his new equipment, coupled with maturity, to complete an eye-catching victory in the Risen Star Stakes with an eye-catching move off seventh that rivaled what he showed in Remsen – this time rallying to victory by half a length. And in Blue Grass Stakes. Sierra Leone turned in another stunning win in just eight lengths!

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4.5/5
Tip: Bet Sierra Leone to Win
  • Sierra Leone is Consistent
  • Will close hard
  • Pace should be conducive to a win
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The Skinny on The Race

Sometimes, the Kentucky Derby goes to an overly popular horse, while other times, it’s been won by an unexpected contender – this year’s field offers ample examples of both!

Fierceness boasts the best odds and stands a good chance of victory. He will be trained by Todd Pletcher, who is a two-time Derby winner (Super Saver in 2010 and Always Dreaming 2017), plus jockey John Velazquez, who is a three-time Derby champion!

Fierceness has won three of his five races to date, including an impressive performance at the Florida Derby in March. Now he is poised to make an impressionful statement when taking his position for Saturday’s Kentucky Derby. To find the best line, you need accounts with multiple sportsbooks, and we got you covered as we break down the best sports betting app

Sierra Leone (3-1) and Catching Freedom (8-1) are other top favorites from this year’s field, both boasting strong odds of finding themselves in the winner’s circle.

Sierra Leone has never finished worse than second in his four races and notched three victories. Chad Brown-trained colt Sierra Leone recently claimed victory at last month’s Blue Grass Stakes and will look to carry that success over to the Triple Crown stage.

Catching Freedom boasts former Kentucky Derby trainer (Brad Cox) and jockey (Flavien Prat). Cox won with Mandaloun in 2021 while Prat rode Country House to victory in 2019.

As sleepers, three horses with 20-1 odds to watch are Mystik Dan, Honor Marie and Resilience.

Honor Marie may offer the greatest hope of victory among this trio. He has finished either first or second in four of five races so far, coming second behind Catching Freedom at the Louisiana Derby.

D. Whitworth Beckman is a Louisville native who has never before had any horse in the Kentucky Derby; thus it would make for an exciting tale if Honor Marie finishes first at Churchill Downs.

DraftKings
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4.5/5
Tip: Bet Sierra Leone to Win
  • Catching freedom will finish strong
  • Watch out for Honor Marie
  • Starting position may be key
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Our Top 6 Favorites

1) Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone is an experienced closer who will need some early pace and smooth journey in order to deliver his best effort on Derby Day. Fierceness will likely start near the back of Churchill Downs’ large field early on and won’t receive instructions to rally from jockey Tyler Gaffalione until entering Churchill Downs’ far turn – by which point Fierceness may already have moved forward to challenge for first place. Sierra Leone, purchased for $2.3 million as a yearling in 2022 and racing since four career starts with almost perfect performances, has achieved remarkable success at racing.

He only suffered one defeat to Kentucky Derby hopeful Dornoch last December in the Remsen Stakes; since then he’s won both his starts this year – Risen Star Stakes and Toyota Blue Grass Stakes with impressive off-the-pace rallies in both. His pedigree makes him well suited for handling the Kentucky Derby’s 1 1/4-mile distance, while his speed figures make him competitive with top Derby contenders.

Expect Sierra Leone to use his inside post to conserve ground, then surge into contention as the field turns for home, positioning himself to avoid tiring horses that could block his momentum and stay outside horses as needed to maintain momentum and win the Kentucky Derby. If he can successfully navigate his journey, Sierra Leone might live up to his billing and become one of history’s great champions!

Bet on Sierra Leone to win the 2024 Kentucky Derby at one of our top-rated sites for betting on Horse Racing

2) Dornoch

Dornoch emerged as a top Kentucky Derby contender this winter after closing out 2023 with two victories – including an upset win over Sierra Leone in the Remsen Stakes. He held onto that honor after winning his 3-year-old debut race, the Coolmore Fountain of Youth Stakes on March 2, with four scratches being received on race day. Dornoch decided not to contest the early pace in his next start, the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes, and failed to mount much of a late rally when asked by jockey Luis Saez, eventually finishing fourth behind last-to-first winner Sierra Leone.

Dornoch’s standing has suffered in light of his final prep effort, yet there remains hope he could mount a comeback with reasonable odds, especially if he returns to running forwardly placed races. Breaking cleanly and quickly from an inside post position will be vital to him to avoid being overwhelmed and forced back by horses trying to save ground from his outside by trying to angle in and angle out at him. Dornoch has consistently posted speed figures that put him on track to at least finish third or fourth in the Kentucky Derby if not win it, while his pedigree makes him well suited to running 1 1/4 miles classic distance races: as son of sire (father) Good Magic and dam (mother) Puca; full brother to 2017’s Kentucky Derby winner Mage.

3) Honor Marie

Honor Marie is a live longshot in this year’s Kentucky Derby, and he falls below top contenders based on speed figures; however, he has shown affinity with Churchill Downs’ dirt track and could improve in his third start of 2024. Last September at Churchill, he made his debut and won. Following that success on this track, he took another victory under the Twin Spires for two turns racing – this time in the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes (KJCS). Honor Marie began his 3-year-old debut by closing from 11th of 12 starters to finish fifth behind Sierra Leone in the Risen Star Stakes on February 17, and continued that progress by rallying to finish second to Catching Freedom in his final Derby prep, Twinspires.com Louisiana Derby on March 23.

Honor Marie has the same come-from-behind running style as its two previous race winners and needs a good trip behind a steady early pace in order to secure an upset victory. At 1 1/4 miles in distance he should be well within his ability; even during his fifth-place finish Honor Marie tried hard to gain ground at the finish.

4) Catching Freedom

Fierceness and Sierra Leone have garnered much of the media’s attention leading up to Derby 150 as likely post-time favourites, while this accomplished colt has been quietly training behind the scenes. Catching Freedom may not possess top speed figures like those two, but overall, he remains a compelling middle-tier Derby contender who could cause an upset on May 4. His final prep race should also prove beneficial, hopefully providing enough momentum for him to improve on race day.

He came into this race fresh off an impressive come-from-behind victory in the Twinspires.com Louisiana Derby on March 30, in which he advanced from last to first by making an audacious move off of Honor Marie, who also made her move late and overtook him by one length to claim victory by an eyelash margin. Before this victory, Catching Freedom placed third behind Sierra Leone and Track Phantom in the Risen Star Stakes on Feb. 17, where he ran in close quarters with these rivals late on but gave an excellent effort. Check out the top betting bonus from some great sportsbooks!

He has also won two-turn stakes races on Jan. 1, including the two-turn Smarty Jones Stakes on Jan. 1. On Derby day, he will have jockey Flavien Prat, who has placed five out of six Kentucky Derby starting horses among the top three finishers. As was the case with Sierra Leone, Catching Freedom requires an aggressive pace to launch his rally, and Prat must guide him through what can often be an overcrowded early stretch field to find clear running room for him to make an impressionful late run-in. Look out for this colt, making an impressionful final sixteenth mile run-up if given a smooth journey.

5) Forever Young

Since his last start at the UAE Derby and Boutique Group Saudi Derby, this colt has had remarkable achievements over the past seven months: an impeccable 5-for-5 record and victories at both events prior to making his first Kentucky Derby start. Both victories came after Forever Young was shipped from Japan, where he easily won three starts at age 2 before being imported for overseas racing.

His victory at the UAE Derby March 30 was particularly heartening, given he raced wide throughout much of its 1 3/16-mile race before finishing powerfully to score by two lengths. On Derby day, his competition will surely increase substantially; therefore, it would be wise to closely follow his gallops at Churchill Downs prior to May 4 in order to gauge how he handles it. Recent Derbys have seen buzz horses from Dubai like Derma Sotogake (2017 Derby) and Thunder Snow (2018) that were considered standouts, and Forever Young may join that esteemed list. He must elevate his game in Kentucky Derby for any chance of an upset victory.

6) Fierceness

Fierceness could set the pace at Churchill Downs on May 4, leaving other Kentucky Derby 150 contenders fighting over second place. He’s shown his top talent on three separate occasions during his five career starts since making his debut last summer at Saratoga and easily winning in a sprint race. Subsequent wins were even more impressive; he dismantled an accomplished field of 2-year-olds in the FanDuel Breeders’ Cup Juvenile presented by Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance back in November and, more recently, ran away with victory at Curlin Florida Derby presented by Hill ‘n’ Dale Farms at Xalapa on March 30.

Fierceness’ three wins span 31 lengths – but his other starts require careful examination: his 7th place finish in the Champagne Stakes last October was defeated by 20 1/4 lengths while third in February in the Holy Bull Stakes was another dismal performance. Fierceness may suffer a disappointment on Kentucky Derby day following his impressive Florida Derby showing, according to the good/bad alternating start theory. However, there may have been legitimate causes for his losses (sloppy tracks in both races and perhaps not fully focused during his 2024 debut at Holy Bull).

This colt has been training impressively in Florida, and since shipping to Churchill Downs, John Velazquez has proven his abilities by winning three Derby races. Velazquez has been aboard Fierceness during both of her two-turn wins and understands his best chance lies when forwardly placed and close to an early lead. Fierceness earned post position 17, which has never produced a Kentucky Derby winner, but it can be an advantageous spot due to the number of other horses in the field assigned. Expect this colt, all of whom drew to his inside, to sit just off the speed horses early on before bidding for the lead on the far turn and trying to separate from his field at the top of the stretch. His chances will diminish significantly if he fails to be in this position by stretch call time.

DraftKings
DraftKings
4.5/5
Tip: Bet Sierra Leone to Win
  • Honor Marie Top longshot
  • Forever Young has been on a roll
  • Dornock has the pedigree
20% up to $1000
Go to DraftKings

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