Kentucky Derby 2024: Honor Marie can come running late

Updated May 3, 2024
Updated May 3, 2024By Rowan Ward

The first Saturday in May is coming, which means it is just about time to bet the Kentucky Derby! America’s most iconic horse race will be run for the 150th time on Saturday, May 4 at Churchill Downs, and the purse has been raised to $5 million for this momentous occasion. The Kentucky Derby covers 1 ¼ miles on the dirt, and 20 of the best three-year-olds will compete over that trip for the purse, the blanket of roses, and a place in history!

With the biggest field in American horse racing, the payoffs are always as grand as the race itself. So, keep reading to find out the best horses to bet in the race, as well as the best places to bet the Kentucky Derby online.

Betting the Kentucky Derby Online

Attending the Kentucky Derby live is the thrill of a lifetime, but we cannot all make it to Louisville. Fortunately, you can be a part of the action from your phone, tablet, or computer by betting the Kentucky Derby online! Choosing the best place to bet can seem like a challenge because there are many options. But, our expert online sportsbook reviews will make that decision easy and profitable!

All of our recommended sportsbooks have the basics, like market-leading odds and trusted payouts. They also offer great online betting bonuses on not just the Kentucky Derby, but racing and sports betting all year long.

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Handicapping the 2024 Kentucky Derby

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

  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.

Keep in mind that the morning lines are just the track handicapper’s best estimate for what the betting board will look like when the gates open. They can be helpful to suggest which horses are expected to be bet heavily or not, but your best bet is to play the Kentucky Derby online since online sportsbooks let you lock in the odds when you bet.

Sierra Leone+400+330+250
Forever Young+850+1000+550
Just a Touch+1100+1200+1400
Honor Marie+1600+2000+2000

Kentucky Derby Handicapping Advice

Taking some of the major Kentucky Derby trends into account can help you pick a winner.

First and foremost, Kentucky Derby winners tend to win or hit the board in their final prep race. Most finish first or second, but since the points system began in 2013, every Kentucky Derby betting winner has finished at least third in their final prep: even colossal long shots Country House and Rich Strike!

Kentucky Derby winners also tend to come from some significant preps. Recently, those include  the Florida Derby, the Arkansas Derby, and the Santa Anita Derby. Since these preps typically draw the best horses, it makes sense that these are the horses who can step forward in Kentucky. Races like the Louisiana Derby, Blue Grass, and Jeff Ruby Steaks are improving, however; they frequently produce horses who hit the board.

Although favorites have not won the last five editions of the Kentucky Derby, favorites typically run well. Since the points system began in 2013, the favorite has not been out of the superfecta.

Kentucky Derby Market Leaders

Two of the more favored horses who belong somewhere on tickets include Sierra Leone and Catching Freedom. Both of them are later-running horses, and with a hot pace from the likes of Dornoch, the blinkers-on Track Phantom, and Fierceness likely, they’ll be rolling when the pace is tiring.

Sierra Leoneto win the Kentucky Derby
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They both also come out of sharp final-prep wins. Sierra Leone launched an eye-catching sustained run in the Blue Grass (G1), something that could be the winning trip again. Catching Freedom, himself third behind Sierra Leone in the Risen Star (G2), took a nice step forward to win the Louisiana Derby (G2), and will get an even sharper pace to finish into this time. Catching Freedom also gets jockey Flavien Prat, as consistent a Derby rider as there is.

Kentucky Derby Bet-Againsts

Morning-line favorite Fierceness is a strong bet-against in the Kentucky Derby. Though he is impressive when things go his way, his tendency to disappoint if anything doesn’t go his way is a concern. Yes, the 17 post is great since he is outside the speed (unless Epic Ride draws in), but he got a similarly plum post in the much softer Holy Bull (G3) and came up empty. At a short price in a 20-horse Derby, the smart money is elsewhere.

Forever Young also merits skepticism. He is undefeated in five starts and probably is the most talented Japan-based Kentucky Derby contender to date. However, he has yet to face horses who stack up with the top of the Kentucky Derby-bound contingent, and UAE Derby (G2) winners have always disappointed in the Run for the Roses.

Kentucky Derby Best Bet

The best bet in the Kentucky Derby is Honor Marie. This stoutly-bred son of Honor Code is well bred for the Derby distance, and hitting the right part of his form cycle. He won the Kentucky Jockey Club (G2) in the third start of his last campaign, and a recent drill at Churchill Downs suggests he still flourishes over the track.

Honor Marie to win the Kentucky Derby
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He also gets an excellent setup for his running style. He has run well closing into even modest paces, and this time he is likely to get a pace that will be extremely sharp for the distance. All of these things paint a great picture for a horse who will be double-digit odds on the board.

Kentucky Derby Exotics Contenders.

Encino has class to prove, as he earned his Derby points in the John Battaglia Memorial and the Lexington (G3). But, the price will be right to take a shot given the other upside. His pedigree is all classic stamina, being by Nyquist out of a Bernardini half to Street Sense. He drew a great middle gate, and he is versatile enough to either be forward or rally from midfield.

For underneath shares, Just Steel is an experienced horse who just keeps showing up for a piece. A win by the D. Wayne Lukas trainee would be a surprise, but he finished second in three different points preps at Oaklawn, including the longest one of the group, the 1 ⅛-mile Arkansas Derby. He drew a solid gate, and should be able to find a spot and keep chasing to the finish.

Kentucky Derby Best Bets

You’ve set up your betting account and gotten to know the top contenders in the race. Now, all that’s left to do is the most fun part of all: bet the Kentucky Derby online!

Here are your expert-recommended plays for the 2024 Kentucky Derby:

Honor Marieto win the Kentucky Derby
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About the Author

Rowan Ward
Rowan Ward

For a decade, Rowan Ward has been making horse race predictions and wagers in Chicago, and has been writing about horse racing for nearly just as long. Understanding the various factors that influence a race's outcome, they often find that the age-old saying "the pace makes the race" can uncover worthwhile betting opportunities. When it comes to handicapping, their favorite races are those held locally in Chicago, major stake races across the country, and two-year-old maiden races with intriguing bloodlines.

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