Here’s How to Bet the 150th Kentucky Derby

Rampart Casino race and sports manager Duane Colucci has tips for Saturday's mane event

May 3, 2024 8:32 am
The field at the first turn at the 149th running of the Kentucky Derby.
Churchill Downs will host the 150th Kentucky Derby on Saturday.
Getty Images

With your first dry-aged steaks of the season ready to grill, your ultra-rare bottle of bourbon cracked and your Mint Julep ingredients on-hand, the most important part of Kentucky Derby prep can go down: placing your bets. With wagering on the 150th Derby opening this morning on-site at Churchill Downs and remotely via FanDuel in the increasingly growing number of states that allow legalized betting on horse racing, the odds on Saturday’s Run for the Roses are crystalizing but will continue to fluctuate until race time. So, while the odds on the 20 contenders were estimated earlier this week when their post positions were drawn, they won’t necessarily hold until post time on Saturday evening (6:57 p.m. EDT).

“Through Friday and Saturday, bettors can watch the odds fluctuate based on the wagers coming in before the race,” FanDuel explains. “Final odds are determined by how much has been bet on each horse once the gates fling open.” (Encino has none as he’s already been scratched.)

Before we get to tips for betting The Greatest Two Minutes in Sports courtesy of Rampart Casino Race and Sports Manager Duane Colucci, below are the post positions, trainers, jockeys and opening odds (which may have already changed since this publishing) for each horse in the 2024 Kentucky Derby, courtesy of FanDuel.

Derby odds for 2024.
Encino has already been scratched from the Run for the Roses.

Now, without further ado, here are Colucci’s thoughts.

The Favorite

The key for Fierceness is if he can run the way he did in the Florida Derby. If he can, he’s going to be tough to beat. His speed figures and the times he has run are just incredible. Trainer Todd Pletcher is holding a really, really nice horse here. It has an excellent pedigree, the same as last year’s winner Mage. I believe it would be a record if Fierceness wins back-to-back with Mage. Fierceness is definitely a horse that can win the Triple Crown because of the landscape this year. You don’t have too many superstar horses. He is the horse that stands out — he and Sierra Leone. Trust me, this horse will take a ton of action at the window.

The Other Favorite

Sierra Leone is good, too. Chad Brown is a legend, and he’s a great, great trainer. If you look at his work, he’s just phenomenal. He wins at a high percentage and is always in the 20-25% win percentile. He’s teaming up with a great rider in Tayler Gaffalione. It’s a synonymous combination. It’s going to be a great race, but if you’re looking at Sierra Leone to be one of the closers, you have to hope the pace is fast enough to push Fierceness so he gets tired. You have a lot of deep closers in this race, but it’s going to be tough to reel Fierceness in if he gets out to an easy lead.

The Other, Other Favorite

It looks like Catching Freedom will be the third favorite — he’ll take a lot of money. Brad Cox is a very popular trainer now, and he has two entries in the race with Catching Freedom being the better of the two. I’m looking at a scenario where he will the other horse, Just a Touch, really close to the lead to try and press Fierceness. Catching Freedom will try and pick up all the pieces because he looks like the better of the two Cox runners. I think Cox will try and set it up for Catching Freedom. Plus, he’s got Flavien Prat on him, who’s one of the top jockeys in the world. He’s going to try and force the pace. Catching Freedom has an excellent chance and a similar running style to Sierra Leone.

Marie the Colt

I’ll tell you, I like the No. 7 horse, Honor Marie. It says Marie, but he’s a colt. He had an excellent prep race and was the runner-up in the Louisiana Derby. Catching Freedom had to come and get Honor Marie that day. He had two wins and a second-place finish on the Churchill Downs surface as a two-year-old but took a break from November to February. Keep that in mind, as a trainer doesn’t really tighten the screws to where a horse will want to come out blistering and just crush. It’s more of a workout off of that long of a layoff. Still, the three career starts at Churchill Downs are very important when you’re handicapping these races, This horse might love Churchill Downs, and a lot of buzz is coming about this horse on the backside from pro handicappers and trainers.

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A Midrange Option

Forever Young, a Japanese horse, won the UAE Derby in Dubai. It has pretty great odds, but nobody has won the Kentucky Derby that’s come out of the UAE Derby. They don’t run well, and I think the top finisher in the Derby out of that prep race in Dubai was fifth, and that was last year. The Japanese runners are coming into their own, and Japan has stamped itself as a premier country for breeding horses. They have a sense of the game, but I don’t think their horses are mature enough to handle being shipped overseas from Dubai to Kentucky and getting used to the surface. It’s too short of a turnaround, in my opinion.


You’d be stretching if you started looking at horses like West Saratoga (50-1). Endlessly (30-1) has a little bit of a chance. I love the trainer — Michael McCarthy made a lot of money with this horse this year, and Umberto Rispoli is a great rider who has really come into his own. He rides the West Coast circuits. The problem is this horse ran on synthetic tracks and turf, never on dirt. A horse like that has to get used to the dirt because he’s used to a softer running setting that’s easier on his heels. Synthetic tracks are also easier on the knees, ankles and feet. The workouts look okay, so you could use Endlessly on the back end of some trifectas and superfectas factors in the third and fourth positions.

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