Meet the Contenders: 2024 Kentucky Derby

April 23rd, 2024

Meet the horses running in the 2024 Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs. For each horse, we're listing a pro, a con, and a rating of potential. The star rating of 1 to 5 represents opportunity to perform well. Be sure to follow these contenders by adding them to your stable alerts.


Sierra Leone wins the Blue Grass (G1) at Keeneland (Photo by Coady Media/Mary Ellet)

Sierra Leone wins the Blue Grass (G1) at Keeneland (Photo by Coady Media/Mary Ellet)

#1 Sierra Leone                 *****

Pro: Handles dry/wet and passed eye tests in key Risen Star (G2) and Blue Grass (G1).

Con: Speed ratings are still a bit light, historically, for Derby winners, but not for the nature of this field.



Fierceness wins the Floridia Derby at Gulfstream Park (Photo by Coglianese Photography)

#2 Fierceness                    *****

Pro: No one in this field is faster on his best day; one to beat on Breedersโ€™ Cup/Fla. Derby form.

Con: Tends to need things his own way, has yet to overcome adversity.



Catching Freedom winning the Smarty Jones S. at Oaklawn Park. (Photo by Coady Photography)

Catching Freedom winning the Smarty Jones S. at Oaklawn Park. (Photo by Coady Photography)

#3 Catching Freedom         ****

Pro: Talented closer hasnโ€™t run a bad one yet and price will be fair.  

Con: Has a bit of form to find on Sierra Leone; perhaps needs fast going to ensure best.



Stronghold (Photo by HorsePhotos)

#4 Stronghold                    **

Pro: First or second in all six outings and bravely clung to victory in Santa Anita Derby (G1).

Con: West Coast segment of division has lacked depth.



Resilience wins the Wood Memorial at Aqueduct (Photo by Adam Coglianese/Adam Coglianese Photography

#5 Resilience                     ***

Pro: Flattered Risen Star form with comfortable win in Wood Memorial (G2).

Con: Has a bit of form and speed to find against same Risen Star foes.



Forever Young wins UAE Derby

Forever Young is Japan's best Kentucky Derby hope, but he must defy trends against the UAE Derby (Photo by Horsephotos.com)

#6 Forever Young              ****

Pro: Exciting Japanese entrant is undefeated in five starts and will thrive stretching out.

Con: Gets first true class test here and might be hard to avoid kickback in congested field.



Endlessly winning the Jeff Ruby Steaks (G3) at Turfway Park (Photo by Coady Photography)

Endlessly winning the Jeff Ruby Steaks (G3) at Turfway Park (Photo by Coady Photography)

#7 Endlessly                      *

Pro: Well-handled so far with strong record on turf, synthetics.

Con: Appears to be struggling in main track workouts; not a guaranteed starter here.



Dornoch (Photo by Keeneland Photos)

Dornoch breaking his maiden at Keeneland (Photo by Keeneland Photos)

#8 Dornoch                       **

Pro: Taken out of comfort zone in Blue Grass; more effective on the lead.

Con: Remsen (G2) win aided by bias; doesnโ€™t appear to have progressed a lot since two.



Just a Touch winning his debut at Fair Grounds (Photo by Hodges Photography)

Just a Touch winning his debut at Fair Grounds (Photo by Hodges Photography)

#9 Just a Touch                  ***

Pro: Talented colt has come a long way in a short time, placing in Gotham and Blue Grass.

Con: Hard to see him overturning Blue Grass form on the stretch out.

 


Track Phantom wins at Churchill Downs

Track Phantom wins at Churchill Downs (Photo by Coady Photography)

#10 Track Phantom              ***

Pro: Sharp breaker should be prominent much of the way and has some class.

Con: Distance concerns have always been an issue; fading fourth in shorter Louisiana Derby.



West Saratoga winning the 2023 Iroquois (G3) at Churchill Downs (Photo by Coady Photography)

West Saratoga winning the 2023 Iroquois (G3) at Churchill Downs (Photo by Coady Photography)

#11 West Saratoga              *

Pro: First or second in all three Churchill tries, including Iroquois (G3) upset.

Con: Tends to lose ground late in longer races; probably more of a one-turn type.


Just Steel

Just Steel wins the Ed Brown S. at Churchill Downs (Photo by Coady Media)

#12 Just Steel                      **

Pro: A durable sort with 11 starts already and barn has won Derby four times.

Con: Has yet to win a two-turn stakes, something Lukasโ€™ winners had going for them.



Honor Marie winning the Kentucky Jockey Club (G2) at Churchill Downs (Photo by Coady Photography)

Honor Marie winning the Kentucky Jockey Club (G2) at Churchill Downs (Photo by Coady Photography)

#13 Honor Marie                 ****

Pro: Loves the Churchill strip and will easily last 10 furlongs more than most.

Con: Perhaps a cut below higher quality closers Sierra Leone and Catching Freedom.


Domestic Product (Photo by Coglianese Photography)

#14 Domestic Product         **

Pro: Much improved with second in Holy Bull (G3) and gutsy Tampa Bay Derby (G3) win.

Con: Tampa race a pretty slow affair and eight-week layoff a concern.



Catalytic wins at Gulfstream Park (Photo by Coglianese Photos)

#15 Catalytic                       **

Pro: Runner-up in Florida Derby in stakes debut, albeit 13 lengths behind Fierceness.

Con: One of several in the field that spots top players 5-10 lengths of form on paper.



Society Man

Society Man breaking his maiden March 9 at Aqueduct (Photo by Coglianese Photos)

#16 Society Man                  *

Pro: Enters off easily his best performance with a rallying second in Wood Memorial.

Con: Was 106-1 at Aqueduct for a reason and this spot loads tougher.



Mystik Dan winning the Southwest (G3) at Oaklawn Park (Photo by Coady Photography/Kurtis Coady)

#17 Mystik Dan                   ***

Pro: One to seriously consider if track comes up wet, based on Southwest (G3) romp.

Con: Would need to find a bit more over a dry surface.


Encino wins the John Battaglia Memorial at Turfway Park (Photo by Coady Photography)

#18 Encino                          ***

Pro: Beautifully bred colt peaking at the right time following Lexington (G3) win.

Con: Not battle tested against divisionโ€™s best and arguably barnโ€™s third string chance.

 



T O Password winning the Fukuryu S. at Nakayama Racecourse (Photo by Tomoya Moriuchi/Horsephotos.com)

T O Password winning the Fukuryu S. at Nakayama Racecourse (Photo by Tomoya Moriuchi/Horsephotos.com)

#19 T O Password                **

Pro: Distance no concern for this undefeated and unexposed Japanese entrant.

Con: Donโ€™t have a good gauge on his relative talent level.



Grand Mo the First (Photo by Coglianese Photography / Credit to Lauren King)

#20 Grand Mo the First        *

Pro: Has garnered a small piece of the purse in all four stakes appearances.

Con: One of the slower entrants on paper from a speed rating perspective.



Epic Ride (Photo by Coady Media)

#21 Epic Ride                      **

Pro: Has never run a bad race and seemed to handle dirt fine in Blue Grass.

Con: Best form has been on synthetic surfaces and well handled by Sierra Leone last time.