Kentucky Derby Contenders, Point Leaders & Top Horses to Watch in 2024

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Kentucky Derby Contenders

Who is running in the Kentucky Derby? Each Kentucky Derby contender and information on each contender can be found below.

Last updated: April 17, 2024 at 5:24 p.m. EDT

2024 Kentucky Derby Contenders

As horses enter the Derby trail, they get one shot to run in the Kentucky Derby in their lifetime.

Discover how horses earn the chance to run in the Kentucky Derby with information below; Information such as contender lists, race entries and point accumulation.


Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks Past Performances

Past Performances for the Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks contenders show how each horse performed in their previous races. Contender past performances are free with bet.


2023-2024 Kentucky Derby Contender Point Leaders

Check out the latest standings of contenders who are hopeful to start the 2024 Kentucky Derby. Positions based on points earned along the Road to the Kentucky Derby trail and non-restricted stakes earnings. Please note that current standings represent only the horses that have been nominated for the Triple Crown races.

Points
Horse
Non-Restricted Stakes Earnings
RTKD Races Won
155
Sierra Leone
$871,250
Risen Star Stakes, Blue Grass Stakes
136
Fierceness
$1,646,100
Breeders' Cup Juvenile, Florida Derby
125
Catching Freedom
$802,000
Smarty Jones Stakes, Louisiana Derby
125
Stronghold
$742,800
Sunland Derby, Santa Anita Derby
110
Resilience
$416,000
100
Forever Young (JPN)
$1,769,919
UAE Derby
100
Endlessly
$658,000
Jeff Ruby Steaks
75
Dornoch
$475,375
Remsen Stakes, Fountain of Youth Stakes
75
Just a Touch
$247,500
70
Track Phantom
$300,000
Gun Runner Stakes, Lecomte Stakes
67
West Saratoga
$363,640
Iroquois Stakes
65
Just Steel
$628,295
65
Honor Marie
$448,455
Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes
60
Domestic Product
$260,500
Tampa Bay Derby
50
Catalytic
$186,000
50
Deterministic
$180,000
Gotham Stakes
50
Society Man
$141,875
46
Mystik Dan
$550,050
Southwest Stakes
40
Encino
$323,136
John Battaglia Stakes, Lexington Stakes
40**
T O Password (JPN)
$120,474
40
Grand Mo the First
$164,250
37
Common Defense
$253,450
35
Epic Ride
$198,315
30
Hades
$193,550
Holy Bull Stakes
30
Uncle Heavy
$167,500
Withers Stakes
27
Seize the Grey
$113,163
25
Le Dom Bro
$131,000
25
Tuscan Gold
$100,000
25
Protective
$75,000
19
Liberal Arts
$230,825
Street Sense

*Horses trained by an individual suspended from the 2024 Kentucky Derby does not receive any qualification points. Muth, Prince of Monaco, Wynstock, Coach Prime, Nysos, Wine Me Up and Imagination are trained by Bob Baffert who is suspended by Churchill Downs Inc. through 2024. Additionally, as a four-year-old Southern Hemisphere bred horse, Auto Bahn is ineligible to enter the Kentucky Derby and thus he was not awarded any qualification points for his 2nd place finish in the UAE Derby.

**Points earned competing in the Japan Road to the Kentucky Derby 

2023-2024 European Road to the Kentucky Derby Point Leaders

Check out the latest standings of contenders from the Euro series who are hopeful to start the 2024 Kentucky Derby. Positions based on points earned along the European Road to the Kentucky Derby trail.

Points
Horse
RTKD Races Won
30
Bracken's Laugh
Cardinal Stakes
20
Bergamasco
Patton Stakes
20
Notable Speech
European Road to the Kentucky Derby Conditions Stakes
15
Orne

2023-2024 Japan Road to the Kentucky Derby Point Leaders

Check out the latest standings of contenders from the Japan series who are hopeful to start the 2024 Kentucky Derby. Positions based on points earned along the Japanese Road to the Kentucky Derby trail.

POINTS
HORSE
RTKD RACES WON
40
T O Password
Fukuryu Stakes
30
Ramjet
Hyacinth
20
Forever Young
Zen-Nippon Nisai Yushun
20
Arare Tabashiru

2024 Kentucky Derby Pedigree Profiles

Prevailing in the Run for the Roses requires a perfect blend of stamina and speed, plus an early-maturing profile sufficient to deliver a winning effort on the first Saturday in May. Learn more about the pedigree profiles of the leading contenders for the 2024 Kentucky Derby below. Use the quicklinks to jump to a specific horse:

WEST SARATOGA | TIMBERLAKE | LOCKED | MUTH | LIBERAL ARTS | FIERCENESS | HONOR MARIE | AMANTE BIANCO | DORNOCH | OTTO THE CONQUEROR | WYNSTOCK |  TRACK PHANTOM | CATCHING FREEDOM | DRUM ROLL PLEASE| MYSTIC DAN | HADES | NYSOS | UNCLE HEAVY| NO MORE TIME | SIERRA LEONE | RAMJET | STRONGHOLD | DETERMINISTIC | ENCINO | IMAGINATION | DOMESTIC PRODUCT  | T O PASSWORD | ENDLESSLY | RESILIENCE | CATALYTIC | SOCIETY MAN | JUST A TOUCH | JUST STEEL 

 


West Saratoga

It’s only fitting that West Saratoga won the one-mile Iroquois (G3) at Churchill Downs, the first leg of the 2023-24 Road to the Kentucky Derby. The gray colt is bred top and bottom for success in the spring classics.

West Saratoga’s sire is Exaggerator, a son of two-time Horse of the Year and 2007 Preakness (G1) winner Curlin. Exaggerator emulated his sire by winning the 2016 Preakness, and he also finished second in the Kentucky Derby (G1) for good measure.


Timberlake (Photo by Coglianese Photography / Credit to Joe Labozzetta)

Timberlake

Can Rebel (G2) winner Timberlake become the third son of Into Mischief to win the Kentucky Derby (G1)? Only time will tell, but the bay colt is trending in the right direction.

Runner-up in the Hopeful (G1) during the summer at Saratoga, Timberlake joined the Road to the Kentucky Derby with a decisive four-length victory in the one-mile Champagne (G1) at Aqueduct. His brilliance as a sprinter/miler at age two is understandable, since Into Mischief displayed similar early-maturing prowess with a triumph in the 1 1/16-mile CashCall Futurity (G1) at age two.


Locked

After overcoming a wide trip to win the Breeders’ Futurity (G1), Locked ranks among the early favorites for the 2024 Kentucky Derby (G1).

His popularity stems not only from his obvious talent, but from his classy pedigree. Any way you slice it, Locked is bred to shine over the Derby’s 1 1/4-mile distance.


Muth

When the speedy Muth successfully stretched out over 1 1/16 miles to dominate the American Pharoah (G1) at Santa Anita by 3 3/4 lengths, it came as no surprise to pedigree handicappers.

For all the speed Muth has shown in sprints, his pedigree is geared top and bottom toward success running long. So strong is his pedigree, distances meaningfully longer than 1 1/16 miles could be within his wheelhouse.


Liberal Arts

Winner of the Street Sense (G3) and third in the Iroquois (G3) at Churchill Downs, Liberal Arts is emerging as a Road to the Kentucky Derby contender with a clear affinity for the Kentucky Derby (G1) host track.

The question is, does Liberal Arts have the pedigree to shine racing 1 1/4 miles on the first Saturday in May? At least at first glance, his pedigree gives off mixed signals.


Fierceness at Breeders' Cup Juvenile (G1) at Saratoga (Photo by Horsephotos)

Fierceness

A blend of tactical speed and staying power carried Fierceness to blowout victories in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) and Florida Derby (G1), stamping the bay colt as the possible favorite for the 2024 Kentucky Derby (G1).

The source of Fierceness’ speed and stamina is easy to see. It’s written all over his classy pedigree.


Honor Marie

When Honor Marie tackled a two-turn configuration for the first time in the 1 1/16-mile Kentucky Jockey Club (G2) at Churchill Downs, he rallied strongly to win by two lengths, emerging as a 2024 Kentucky Derby (G1) contender.

Pedigree handicappers weren’t surprised to see Honor Marie produce a big effort in his first start racing beyond one mile. After all, the bay colt is bred to shine running long.


AMANTE BIANCO

When Amante Bianco rallied to victory in the Cattleya S. at Tokyo Racecourse, the flashy white colt picked up 10 qualification points on the Japan Road to the Kentucky Derby and emerged as a possible contender for the 2024 Kentucky Derby (G1).

The question is, does Amante Bianco have the pedigree to handle the Derby’s testing 1 1/4-mile distance? The Cattleya took place over 1,600 meters (about one mile), and a brief glance at Amante Bianco’s immediate lineage—he’s a son of Henny Hughes—might suggest shorter trips are preferable. But dig a little deeper, and stamina becomes more apparent.


DORNOCH

It’s safe to say that Dornoch has the pedigree of a Kentucky Derby (G1) winner. Because he literally has the pedigree of a Kentucky Derby winner. On April 18, 2020, a chestnut colt by Good Magic out of Puca was born. Later named Mage, he would go on to win the 2023 Kentucky Derby in an upset.

On April 22, 2021, a bay colt by Good Magic out of Puca was born. Mage’s younger brother was given the name Dornoch, and after turning back a challenger to win Aqueduct’s Remsen (G2) on the Road to the Kentucky Derby, Dornoch is taking steps toward emulating his sibling with a win on the first Saturday in May.


OTTO THE CONQUEROR

Otto the Conqueror showed unwavering tenacity to win the Remington Springboard Mile at Remington Park by three-quarters of a length, in the process joining the Road to the Kentucky Derby.

At first glance, Otto the Conqueror’s pedigree is geared top and bottom toward success over classic distances. He’s a son of 2007 Kentucky Derby (G1) winner Street Sense out of Dream It Is, a daughter of 2011 Preakness (G1) winner Shackleford.


WYNSTOCK

Stretching out in distance has worked wonders for Wynstock. After failing to factor in his first two starts sprinting, the chestnut colt has been unstoppable in two-turn races, dominating a one-mile maiden special weight before battling to victory in the 1 1/16-mile Los Alamitos Futurity (G2) at Los Alamitos.

It’s no wonder why Wynstock has improved over longer distances. His pedigree is filled with potential for success around two turns.


TRACK PHANTOM

Pacesetting and dueling tactics have carried Track Phantom to victories in the Gun Runner S. and Lecomte S. (G3) at Fair Grounds on the Road to the Kentucky Derby.

We know Track Phantom has speed; prior to his stakes exploits, he led almost all the way to dominate a 1 1/16-mile maiden special weight at Churchill Downs. But does Track Phantom have the stamina to carry his speed over 1 1/4 miles in the Kentucky Derby (G1)? His pedigree gives off mixed signals.


CATCHING FREEDOM

A perfect pedigree doesn’t guarantee success in the Kentucky Derby (G1), but it doesn’t hurt. And any way you slice it, Catching Freedom is bred to excel in the Derby.

Catching Freedom joined the Road to the Kentucky Derby with a rallying victory in the 1 1/16-mile Smarty Jones S. at Oaklawn Park. He later finished third in the 1 1/8-mile Risen Star (G2) before taking home top honors in the 1 3/16-mile Louisiana Derby (G2), both at Fair Grounds. Stretching out another sixteenth of a mile for the 1 1/4-mile Kentucky Derby should be right in his wheelhouse.


DRUM ROLL PLEASE

Drum Roll Please joined the Road to the Kentucky Derby with a third-place finish in the Remsen (G2), and a subsequent 3 3/4-length win in the Jerome S. at Aqueduct reiterates his emergence as a Kentucky Derby (G1) contender.

At first glance, Drum Roll Please’s pedigree might appear more speed-oriented than ideal for the 1 1/4-mile Kentucky Derby. But dig a little deeper, and stamina becomes apparent.


MYSTIC DAN

Mystik Dan impressed in the Southwest S. (G3) on the Road to the Kentucky Derby, saving ground over a muddy track before bursting through along the rail to dominate by eight lengths. In the process, he finished remarkably fast, running his final sixteenth of a mile in :05.93.

But does Mystik Dan have the pedigree to stretch out over 1 1/4 miles in the Kentucky Derby (G1)? That’s an important question Derby handicappers must ponder.


Hades wins the Holy Bull (Photo by Coglianes Photography / Credit to Lauren King)

HADES

Setting a slow pace helped Hades stretch his speed to upset the 1 1/16-mile Holy Bull S. (G3) on the Road to the Kentucky Derby, prevailing by two lengths over a field that included champion two-year-old male Fierceness.

The question is, how far can Hades run if asked to set a faster pace? Does he have the stamina to shine over 1 1/4 miles in the Kentucky Derby (G1), or will shorter journeys prove more favorable?


NYSOS

After two blowout victories sprinting, it was no surprise to see Nysos dominate his two-turn debut, winning the one-mile Robert B. Lewis S. (G3) at Santa Anita by 7 1/2 lengths.

Indeed, the early brilliance of Nysos in sprints can be attributed more to raw talent than a predisposition for sprinting. At least, that’s what his stamina-oriented pedigree suggests.


UNCLE HEAVY

A decade after Social Inclusion set the world abuzz as a possible Kentucky Derby (G1) contender, his son Uncle Heavy is embarking down the same path.

But Uncle Heavy is developing in a different direction. While he won his debut sprinting six furlongs at Parx, the bay colt has thrived since stretching out around two turns, rallying to win the one-mile and 70-yard Wait For It S. at Parx before joining the Road to the Kentucky Derby with a stretch-running score in the 1 1/8-mile Withers S. (G3) at Aqueduct.


NO MORE TIME

A gate-to-wire victory in the Sam F. Davis (G3) at Tampa Bay Downs launched No More Time into the picture as a 2024 Kentucky Derby (G1) contender.

No More Time prevailed by 1 1/4 lengths in the 1 1/16-mile Road to the Kentucky Derby qualifier, but his lead was diminishing through the final furlong. Can he stretch his speed over 1 1/4 miles on the first Saturday in May?


SIERRA LEONE

Racing 1 1/8 miles is no obstacle for Sierra Leone, winner of the Blue Grass (G1) and Risen Star (G2) and runner-up in the Remsen (G2) on the Road to the Kentucky Derby. Neither should the 1 1/4-mile distance of the Kentucky Derby (G1) prove problematic for the beautifully bred colt.


RAMJET

When Ramjet stormed home victorious by three lengths in the Hyacinth S. on the Japan Road to the Kentucky Derby, he delivered on a pedigree geared top and bottom toward high-level success running long on dirt.

That might come as a bit of a surprise to horseplayers who remember the racing career of Ramjet’s sire, Majestic Warrior. Two early sprint wins, including a triumph in the seven-furlong Hopeful (G1), were followed by sound defeats in the Champagne (G1), Louisiana Derby (G2), and Florida Derby (G1) running long.


Stronghold wins the Sunland Derby (Photo by Coady Photography)

STRONGHOLD

Stronghold has made a strong name for himself on the Road to the Kentucky Derby, winning the Santa Anita Derby (G1) and Sunland Park Derby (G3) after finishing a close second in the Los Alamitos Futurity (G2).

The Kentucky Derby (G1) looms on the horizon for Stronghold, but does he have the pedigree to shine racing 1 1/4 miles on the first Saturday in May? That’s a tricky question that requires a nuanced answer.


DETERMINISTIC

A seven-month layoff couldn’t stop Deterministic from joining the Road to the Kentucky Derby with a win in the Gotham (G3) at Aqueduct. A sharp rally from just off the pace yielded victory by two lengths in the one-mile contest.

But can Deterministic stretch out over 1 1/4 miles in the Kentucky Derby (G1)? That’s an important question to ponder, because his pedigree suggests the Derby distance is a question mark.


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

ENCINO

Encino has shown plenty of talent on Tapeta, joining the Road to the Kentucky Derby with a stretch-running score in the John Battaglia Memorial S. at Turfway Park. But he’ll have to translate his fine form to dirt if he’s going to challenge for victory in the Kentucky Derby (G1) at Churchill Downs.

Fortunately, the Godolphin homebred has the pedigree to make the switch. From top to bottom, Encino is bred to shine on dirt.


IMAGINATION

A tenacious victory in the San Felipe (G2) at Santa Anita has stamped Imagination as a talented three-year-old worth following.

Purchased for $1.05 million as a yearling, Imagination has plenty of speed and led for much of the 1 1/16-mile San Felipe. But his pedigree suggests he’ll carry his speed over distances up to 1 1/4 miles, making races like the Preakness (G1), Haskell (G1), and Travers (G1) viable targets for the bay colt.


DOMESTIC PRODUCT

A fast finish from behind an incredibly slow pace carried Domestic Product to victory in the 1 1/16-mile Tampa Bay Derby (G3) on the Road to the Kentucky Derby.

Normally a fast finish in a short route race like the Tampa Bay Derby bodes well for stretching out over 1 1/4 miles in the Kentucky Derby (G1). But Domestic Product’s pedigree suggests the Derby distance might be a furlong farther than his best.


T O PASSWORD

A hard-fought head triumph in the Fukuryu S. at Nakayama Racecourse in Japan has thrust T O Password into the picture as a Kentucky Derby (G1) contender.

Held over 1,800 meters (about 1 1/8 miles) on dirt, the Fukuryu served as the final stop on the Japan Road to the Kentucky Derby. T O Password’s narrow triumph brought his career record to 2-for-2, so if he prevails in the Run for the Roses he’ll become the first Derby winner since Leonatus in 1883 to prevail off such a light racing record.

T O Password’s relative lack of experience is a question mark, but at least he has a solid Kentucky Derby pedigree in his corner. Even though much of the best racing in Japan takes place on turf, T O Password has already shown an affinity for dirt, and there’s no reason to think the Derby’s 1 1/4-mile distance will be an obstacle.


ENDLESSLY

Stretch-running Endlessly has been a force to reckon with on turf and synthetic, winning four stakes. In the Jeff Ruby Steaks (G3) on the Road to the Kentucky Derby, he stormed home over the Turfway Park Tapeta track to dominate by four lengths.

But Endlessly has never run on dirt, the surface over which the Kentucky Derby (G1) is contested at Churchill Downs. Current plans call for Endlessly to skip the Kentucky Derby in favor of a grass campaign, but his pedigree suggests switching to dirt for the Derby might not be an impossible obstacle.


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

RESILIENCE

A pace-tracking trip carried Resilience to a 2 1/4-length win in the Wood Memorial (G2) at Aqueduct, stamping the bay colt as a viable Kentucky Derby (G1) contender.

Pedigree handicappers were already aware of Resilience’s Kentucky Derby potential. After all, his pedigree is packed with speed, stamina, class, and—most importantly—Kentucky Derby winners.


CATALYTIC

Catalytic wasn’t expected to factor in the Florida Derby (G1) on the Road to the Kentucky Derby, but a runner-up finish at odds of 29-1 earned him a ticket to compete in the 2024 Kentucky Derby (G1).

With only three starts (and only one route race) under his belt, Catalytic is a largely unproven commodity. It’s difficult to say based off his racing record whether the Kentucky Derby’s 1 1/4-mile distance is within his wheelhouse, and truth be told his pedigree is a tough read as well.


SOCIETY MAN

Running long is a strong suit for Society Man, runner-up in the 1 1/8-mile Wood Memorial (G2) and a maiden winner over the same distance. Stretching out over 1 1/4 miles for the Kentucky Derby (G1) should fit the chestnut gelding just fine.

After all, Society Man is a son of champion two-year-old male and Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) winner Good Magic, runner-up to Triple Crown winner Justify in the 2018 Kentucky Derby. A son of two-time Horse of the Year and stamina influence Curlin, Good Magic is off to a strong start at stud, siring 2023 Kentucky Derby winner Mage, 1 3/16-mile Preakness (G1) runner-up Blazing Sevens, and 1 1/8-mile Arkansas Derby (G1) hero Muth.


JUST A TOUCH 

One of the most beautifully bred horses in the prospective 2024 Kentucky Derby (G1) field is Just a Touch, the lightly raced runner-up in the Blue Grass (G1) and Gotham (G3) on the Road to the Kentucky Derby. Just a Touch hails from the second crop of foals sired by 2018 Triple Crown winner Justify, a brilliant speedster with the stamina to handle 1 1/4 miles in the Kentucky Derby, 1 3/16 miles in the Preakness (G1), and 1 1/2 miles in the Belmont (G1).


JUST STEEL 

Runner-up finishes in the Arkansas Derby (G1), Southwest (G3), and Smarty Jones S. have qualified Just Steel to compete in the 2024 Kentucky Derby (G1).

The veteran of 11 starts is a capable competitor on dirt, but that’s arguably in defiance of his bloodlines. A glance at Just Steel’s pedigree suggests turf might actually be his preferred surface.


Quick Kentucky Derby Contender Answers

  • Q: How many total horses can run in the Kentucky Derby?
    • A: 20 horses can be placed inside the Churchill Downs starting gate, which means 20 horses can run in the Kentucky Derby. There are typically two Also Eligible 'AE' horses who can find a chance to compete, if one of the original 20 horses scratches and cannot run in the race.
  • Q: How do horses get to run in the Kentucky Derby?
    • A: 18 entries are initially reserved for the top Road to the Kentucky Derby prep race point earners. These prep races are per-determined and if a horse is tied in points, then a specific type of purse earnings are used to assist.
    • A: 2 entries in the Kentucky Derby are 'reserved' for runners from the European Road to the Kentucky Derby and the Japan Road to the Kentucky Derby.

The Kentucky Derby Hopeful Point Accumulation Process

One of the fascinating things about the build-up to the Kentucky Derby is watching the development of young Thoroughbreds. Still babyish as two-year-olds, the Derby hopefuls begin to grow up as three-year-olds -- a process often compared to junior high kids morphing into high school athletes.

Fans can track the horses' progress during the "Road to the Kentucky Derby," traditionally a series of 35 races that take place from the fall of their two-year-old campaign through the spring of their three-year-old year, culminating in the Kentucky Derby on the first Saturday in May. Horses earn their way into the Derby by scoring points in these races (the full schedule, along with the sliding scale of points available for a top-five finish in each race, is available here).

Just as major sports teams advance through playoffs, meeting stiffer competition as they get closer to the championship event, so do Derby aspirants aim to climb through each successive prep race. They might not have to win, but they do have to perform well enough -- and stay healthy -- to remain on the trail.

Because the competition gets tougher as the trail unfolds, the Derby points system awards the most points for the marquee preps in late March or April. The winners of the Florida Derby, Louisiana Derby, UAE Derby (in Dubai), Wood Memorial, Santa Anita Derby, Blue Grass Stakes, and Arkansas Derby each bank 100 points toward the Kentucky Derby, clinching a spot in the field.

So hop onto the Derby trail -- you might find a hot prospect!