2024 Kentucky Derby Horses and Top Contenders

May 4th, 2024

The 150th Kentucky Derby (G1) features an overflow field of 22 horses for this classic 1 1/4-mile test. Morning line favorite #17 Fierceness comes in off a 13 1/2 length win in the March 30 Florida Derby (G1) while second choice #2 Sierra Leone came from far back to circle horses and win the April 6 Blue Grass (G1) by 1 1/2 lengths.

Who will win the Kentucky Derby and who are the Kentucky Derby favorites?

  • Fierceness at 7-2 Morning Line Odds
  • Sierra Leone at 3-1 Morning Line Odds
  • Catching Freedom at 8-1 Morning Line Odds
  • Forever Young (JPN) at 6-1 Morning Line Odds

Kentucky Derby Top Contender: Fierceness

James Scully: Based on nearly every metric, Fierceness is the fastest horse entering the 150th running of the Kentucky Derby (G1). The frontrunning colt registered field-topping 112 and 106 Brisnet Speed ratings for respective dominant wins in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) and Florida Derby (G1), stylishly drawing off from the competition by the top of the stretch, and Fierceness will look to get into a cruising rhythm in the Kentucky Derby, saving plenty for the key stages while racing on or up close to the lead. Following a 13-length romp in the Florida Derby, he will need to string together wins for the first time in his five-race career, throwing in unexpected clunkers at odds-on following rough starts in the Champagne (G1) and Holy Bull (G3), and the break appears more important for Fierceness than most. He remains a formidable presence and deserves to be favored come post time. Read more here on Fierceness.

Kentucky Derby Top Contender: Sierra Leone

Long and physically imposing, Sierra Leone will bring a dynamic closing kick to the 150th running of the Kentucky Derby (G1). The dark bay exits a superb win in the Blue Grass (G1) over an inside and speed-favoring oval at Keeneland, flying past rivals to win going away by 1 1/2 lengths after launching his bid from far back and powering wide into the stretch. Sierra Leone has raced against the track flow in all three stakes starts, displaying immense talent while still raw at times, and his rider commented after the Blue Grass, “He has so much ability and he does things so easily. We haven’t even got close to the bottom of him yet.” Sierra Leone will need to work out a trip from off the pace in a 20-horse field and after balking at the starting gate of the Blue Grass, he needs to handle the loading process better at Churchill Downs.

Kentucky Derby Top Contender: Catching Freedom

After being cut off a couple of strides out of the gate, Catching Freedom dropped back to last and offered a dynamic closing kick to win the 1 3/16-mile Louisiana Derby (G2) at Fair Grounds by a length. The bay colt made his stakes debut a winning one in the Smarty Jones at Oaklawn on New Year’s Day but registered only an 89 Brisnet Speed rating for the 2 3/4-length decision. Catching Freedom continued to show more in the Risen Star (G2) six weeks later, rallying to be a close third to Sierra Leone, and registered a commendable 100 Speed figure in the final prep. His progressing form offers appeal, longer distances appear to be no obstacle, and Catching Freedom will look to offer a serious win challenge with another forward move in the 150th Kentucky Derby (G1).

Kentucky Derby Top Contender: Forever Young (JPN)

The highest-ever rated dirt two-year-old in Japan, Forever Young may be the one to buck recent international trends in the Kentucky Derby (G1). The undefeated colt stamped his ticket with a comfortable tally in the UAE Derby (G2), a race that has failed to produce a top four finisher at Churchill Downs from 18 alumni, but none had the reputation of Forever Young. Winner of his first three starts in Japan, Forever Young gained worldwide attention when recording an impressive win in December’s Zen-Nippon Nisai Yushun, displaying good tactical speed while romping by seven lengths over a mile. He’s built for longer distances but showed his versatility when opening 2023 in the one-mile Saudi Derby (G3), overcoming a poor start to record a gutsy win from off the pace. Forever Young raced closer to the action in the 1 3/16-mile UAE Derby, stalking just behind the early leaders before launching his bid on the far turn. And given his aversion to kickback in previous starts, he’ll probably look to establish positioning just behind the early leaders and in the clear during the opening stages of the Kentucky Derby. Forever Young has taken his track with him so far, winning over five different dirt ovals, and he rates as a viable contender to become the first international shipper to win the Kentucky Derby since Cannonero II in 1971.

Two scratches (Encino and Mugatu) have reduced the Kentucky Derby field down to its 20-horse maximum.

Get ready for the race of the year with the 2024 Kentucky Derby horses and top contenders. Here are this year's contenders along with their morning line odds as well as their respective trainers and jockeys. 

2024 Kentucky Derby Field & Odds
EntryHorseML OddsTrainer Jockey
1Dornoch20-1Danny GarganLuis Saez
2Sierra Leone3-1Chad BrownTyler Gaffalione
3Mystik Dan20-1Kenny McPeekBrian Hernandez, Jr.
4Catching Freedom8-1Brad CoxFlavien Prat
5Catalytic30-1Saffee Joseph, Jr.Jose Ortiz
6Just Steel20-1D. Wayne LukasKeith Asmussen
7Honor Marie20-1Whit BeckmanBen Curtis
8Just a Touch10-1Brad CoxFlorent Geroux
9EncinoSCRBrad CoxAxel Concepcion
10T O Password (JPN)30-1Kazushi KamuraDaisuke Takayanagi
11Forever Young (JPN)10-1Ryusei SakaiYoshito Yahagi
12Track Phantom20-1Steve AsmussenJoel Rosario
13West Saratoga50-1Larry DemiritteJesus Castanon
14Endlessly30-1Michael McCarthyUmberto Rispoli
15Domestic Product30-1Chad BrownIrad Ortiz, Jr. 
16Grand Mo the First50-1Victory Barboza, Jr. Emisael Jaramillo
17Fierceness5-2Todd PletcherJohn Velazquez
18Stronghold20-1Phil D'AmatoAntonio Fresu
19Resilience20-1William MottJunior Alvarado
20Society Man50-1Danny Gargan Lafranco Dettori
21Epic Ride30-1John EnnisAdam Beschizza
Also Eligible
22 MugatuSCRJeff EnglerJoe Talamo