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Who Is The Kentucky Derby Favorite 2024 Ahead Of Churchill Downs Race?

Andy Newton
Kentucky Derby horses

US horse racing fans are getting excited by the day as the 150th edition of the Run For The Roses is fast-approaching, but just which horse is the Kentucky Derby favorite 2024 for the first leg of the US Triple Crown?

Fierceness Is The 2024 Kentucky Derby Favorite

The Todd Pletcher barn have won the Run For The Roses twice in the past and the best Kentucky Derby racebooks feel they’ve a huge chance of making it three with Fierceness.

This is because the City Of Light colt has been installed as the Kentucky Derby favorite for 2024 after impressing when winning the Florida Derby by 13 1/2 lengths on March 30 (watch below).

He had another 2024 Kentucky Derby hopeful Catalytic back in second that day and, with only five career runs, this Repole Stables-owned 3 year-old looks certain to have more improvement to come.

With the 2024 Kentucky Derby purse boosted to $5m in 2024, and the winner getting a cool $3.1m, then should Fierceness win the first US Triple Crown race this will take his career earnings to $4,803,850.

This would also see Fierceness become the highest earner for his owners Repole Stable, with this billing currently sitting with their 2019 Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Vino Rosso, who banked $4,803,125 during his career.

Fierceness will also be ridden by veteran jockey John Velazquez, who has ridden three previous Kentucky Derby winners in the past. The most recent of those being Authentic in 2020.

While the owner Mike Repole will be looking to win the big Churchill Downs race for the first time and also make up for having the 2023 Kentucky Derby favourite in Forte scratched late on from the race 12 months ago.

Fierceness silks KD Fierceness Profile

  • Runs: 5
  • Wins: 3
  • Trainer: Todd Pletcher
  • Jockey: John R Velazquez
  • Last Run: 1st Florida Derby (Gulfstream Park), March 30, 2024.
  • Career Winnings: $1,703,850

WATCH: Fierceness Winning The 2024 Florida Derby


The Florida Derby Has Been A Good Kentucky Derby Guide Recently

One of the best Kentucky Derby prep races in recent times has been the Florida Derby – with six winners having taken in that Gulfstream Park race since 2006. These include the 2023 winner Mage, who was runner-up in the Florida Derby before taking the Run For The Roses.

While five horses since 2006 have won both races, with the most recent Always Dreaming in 2017, who was also trained and ridden by Pletcher and Velazquez.

Florida Derby / Kentucky Derby Winners Since 2006





2017 Always Dreaming Todd Pletcher John Velazquez
2016 Nyquist Doug O’Neill Mario Gutierrez
2013 Orb Bob Baffert Joel Rosario
2008 Big Brown Rick Dutrow Jr. Kent Desormeaux
2006 Barbaro Michael Matz Edgar Prado

Fireceness Will Have Saddlecloth 17, But Post Position 16

Fireceness was initially handed Kentucky Derby post position draw 17, which wasn’t ideal as that berth hasn’t seen a winner of the race – ever.

However, due to the scracthing of Encino this has meant Fierceness has moved to gate 16 (but will still run as number 17). This is better news for stat lovers as stall 16 has one of the best recent records with five wins in the last 30 runnings.

This scratching saw Epic Ride come into the race as number 21, with the final reserve Mugatu wating in the wings should another horse come out before 9am ET on Friday May 3.

Sierra Leone Disputing The Kentucky Derby Favorite Berth Too

In a tight betting market, the other most likely horse that could be sent off as the Kentucky Derby favorite is Sierra Leone.

This Chad Brown runner will head into the May 4 race having won three of his four starts, with his only defeat coming in the Remsen Stakes, when playing second fiddle to another of the 2024 Kentucky Derby horses – Dornoch.

Sierra Leone was last in action winning the 2024 Toyota Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland, with Just A Touch 1 1/2 lengths back in second (watch below).

If Sierra Leone can win the 2024 Kentucky Derby, he’ll be giving the Brown barn theiitsr first success in the race, plus the same would apply to his regular rider Tyler Gaffalione.

When the Kentucky Derby post positions came out, Sierra Leone was handed gate 2 and the last winner from this stall was Affirmed in 1978.

Sierra Leone silks Sierra Leone Profile

  • Runs: 4
  • Wins: 3
  • Trainer: Chad Brown
  • Jockey: Tyler Gaffalione
  • Last Run: 1st Toyota Blue Grass (Keeneland), April 6, 2024.
  • Career Winnings: $918,000

When is the Kentucky Derby 2024?

The 2024 Kentucky Derby will be run on Saturday, May 4 at Churchill Downs racetrack. Plus, you can also keep tabs on the rest of the races with our complete Kentucky Derby schedule across the entire meet.

  • 📅Time/Date: 6:45pm, Saturday May 4, 2024
  • 🏇Racecourse: Churchill Downs
  • 💰 Purse/Winner: $5m / $3.1m
  • 📺 TV: NBC (Live Stream: You Tube, Peacock, fuboTV)
  • 🎲 Kentucky Derby Odds: Fierceness +300 | Sierra Leone +300 | Forever Young +800

You can also find out more about how to watch the 2024 Kentucky Derby and also compare the race time across the different US time zones.

Who Was The Last Kentucky Derby Favorite To Win?

You have to go back to the 2016 running of the Kentucky Derby to find the last winning favorite in Justify, who returned the 29/10 market leader.

The horse was trained by Bob Baffert and ridden by Mike E. Smith and after his Churchill Downs win cemented his name in the US hall of fame as a Triple Crown winner after adding the Preakness and Belmont Stakes to his tally.

Justify retired to stud after that 2018 season – racing just six times in his career but was unbeaten and remains the last horse to win the US Triple Crown.

How Many Kentucky Derby Favorites Win?

Past Kentucky Derby results tell us that since 2007 (17 runnings) there have been eight winning favorites – which equates to a decent 47% strike-rate. Between 2013 and 2018, there was also a purple patch for the market leader, with six winning favorites in a row.

Since then, however, Kentucky Derby payouts on the winner have been at bigger odds. These include an 81-1 outsider in Rich Strike in 2022.  See below, with the winning Kentucky Derby favorite highlighted.

  • 2023 – MAGE (152/10)
  • 2022 – RICH STRIKE (81/1)
  • 2021 – MANDALOUN (269/10)
  • 2020 – AUTHENTIC (84/10)
  • 2019 – COUNTRY HOUSE (65/1)
  • 2018 – JUSTIFY (29/10 fav)
  • 2017 – ALWAYS DREAMING (47/10 fav)
  • 2016 – NYQUIST (23/10 fav)
  • 2015 – AMERICAN PHAROAH (29/10 fav)
  • 2014 – CALIFORNIA CHROME (5/2 fav)
  • 2013 – ORB (11/2 fav)
  • 2012 – I’LL HAVE ANOTHER (153/10)
  • 2011 – ANIMAL KINGDOM (209/10)
  • 2010 – SUPER SAVER (8/1)
  • 2009 – MINE THAT BIRD (51/1)
  • 2008 – BIG BROWN (12/5 fav)
  • 2007 – STREET SENSE (49/10 fav)

Kentucky Derby 2024 Betting Odds

See below the latest 2024 Kentucky Derby odds, with Sierra Leone and Fierceness disputing the favorites berth at the head of the market. That would suggest the winner should come from those two big guns.

While the Japanese horse, Forever Young, is next best as this unbeaten 3 year-old looks to become the first winner of the Kentucky Derby from the Far East.

  • Dornoch: +2000
  • Sierra Leone: +300
  • Mystik Dan: +2000
  • Catching Freedom: +800
  • Catalytic: +3000
  • Just Steel: +2000
  • Honor Marie: +2000
  • Just a Touch: +1000
  • Encino: 20-1 (scratched)
  • T O Password: +3000
  • Forever Young: +1000
  • Track Phantom: +2000
  • West Saratoga: +5000
  • Endlessly: +3000
  • Domestic Product: +3000
  • Grand Mo the First: +5000
  • Fierceness: +250
  • Stronghold: +2000
  • Resilience: +2000
  • Society Man: +5000

Note: Odds are subject to change

Note: Others on request, but all current Kentucky Derby odds correct as of 09:00 ET on Wednesday, May 1 2024.

Andy Newton
Andy Newton

Andy Newton is a horse racing handicapper who specializes in key race trends for the biggest events in sport around the world. His statistical approach to finding winners is one that has paid off time and time again. Check out the latest trends and Kentucky Derby stats from Andy on the site.