Kentucky Derby Predictions: Win, Place, Show and More

Catching Freedom is tipped to win the Kentucky Derby, with Sierra Leone for place despite late-running challenges and the speedy Fierceness for the show, given his variable past performances.

May 4, 2024 • 10:13 ET • 4 min read
Catching Freedom working at Churchill Downs on the morning of April 24.
Photo By - Kurtis Coady / TwinSpires

The results of several recent editions of the Kentucky Derby suggest almost anything can happen in the expected field of 20, and today’s 150th running of the classic might prove to be no exception. 

However, for Kentucky Derby predictions, this latest field looks top-heavy as far as talent goes. While it’s our general custom to find value with the top Kentucky Derby horses, the likely Top 2 betting choices appear difficult to stand against for the other larger shares.

Win, place, and show picks for the Kentucky Derby

Win, place show bets are the simplest Kentucky Derby odds to bet. Below we break down which favorites to back and in what order.

  • Win: Catching Freedom (8-1)
  • Place: Sierra Leone (3-1)
  • Show: Fierceness (5-2)

Win pick: Catching Freedom (8-1)

There’s little not to like about Catching Freedom’s progressive form. He’s won three of his five starts, including a last-to-first rally in a moderately-paced edition of the Louisiana Derby six weeks ago. Although he will have to work out a trip in this congested field, the pace figures to be even faster than it was at Fair Grounds, and he’s developed a habit of sustaining his rallies no matter how wide he’s required to go.

Another plus in his favor is that he already has winning experience over the Churchill Downs surface. He convincingly captured his debut over it last October and might have won his second start there, too, if not for lacking running room in deep stretch.

Catching Freedom will have to improve a little to turn the tables on Sierra Leone, to whom he has beaten 1 3/4 lengths in the Risen Star Stakes over a sloppy track two starts back. Sierra Leone is a strong wet track performer and might have had a slight edge on Catching Freedom because of it. There is some rain in the forecast for Derby weekend, but if the track stays dry enough, Catching Freedom can perhaps close the gap.

The primary selling point, though, is that Catching Freedom figures to be two or three times the price of Sierra Leone. The gap between them is not an insurmountable margin, and Catching Freedom will offer far more value in the wagering.

Place pick: Sierra Leone (3-1)

The likely second choice, Sierra Leone, has won three of four, including the Risen Star and the Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland, a race that hasn’t been won by the eventual Derby winner since Strike the Gold pulled off the double in 1991.

A physically imposing son of Gun Runner and a brilliant late runner, Sierra Leone has been worth every penny of the $2.3 million paid for him as a yearling. His only loss in the Remsen Stakes last December was still an outstanding performance. He overcame a track bias in favor of front runners to take the lead in deep stretch, only to lose focus and give back what appeared an impending victory to long-time leader Dornoch. The addition of blinkers this season has prevented that from recurring.

Like Catching Freedom, Sierra Leone will have to work out a trip from far back. His Kentucky Derby post position at No. 2 is not in of itself a huge obstacle for a horse with his running style, but it might be a bit more challenging than from where Catching Freedom breaks from two stalls over.

Sierra Leone has been a logical Derby contender for the past six months. He’ll likely go off at better odds than he has for much of his brief career, but not quite enough for us to back him for the win.

Show pick: Fierceness (5-2)

The morning-line favorite, Fierceness, is clearly the fastest horse on paper. The speed figures he earned in winning the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and Florida Derby suggest as much. If he runs back to either performance, he’ll be difficult to beat.

However, Fierceness is a colt who doesn’t always show up at his best. He’s lost twice before at very short odds, in the Champagne Stakes and Holy Bull Stakes, and so far, has the look of a horse who needs absolutely everything to go his way in running. He might not get that here, given the amount of other speed in the field.

Exacta and Trifecta picks for the Kentucky Derby

We’ll keep things simple with a win bet on Catching Freedom. A $30 wager, for example, will return a minimum of $270 if his odds hold steady at 8-1. The payoff will be higher if the odds drift up.

An exacta (picking the top two finishers in order) and trifecta (picking the top three finishers in order) are other options. These wagers are obviously more difficult to win, especially in a 20-horse field, so the amount to invest in those pools should arguably be smaller.

For those on a $50 budget overall, $8 exactas of Catching Freedom over Sierra Leone and Fierceness will cost $16 total. The remaining $4 could go into trifecta wagers, keying Catching Freedom in first and putting Sierra Leone and Fierceness in the second and third slots. Each combination can be had for $2.

  • $30 Win: Catching Freedom ($30)
  • $8 Exacta: Catching Freedom over Sierra Leone and Fierceness $16)
  • $2 Trifecta: Catching Freedom, Sierra Leonne, Fierceness ($2)

Picks made by Vance Hanson, TwinSpires.

More Kentucky Derby picks and predictions

Our experts are making Kentucky Derby picks and building bets all week.

Morning line odds for the Kentucky Derby

Here are the morning line odds for every horse running in the Kentucky Derby in 2024. For the most up-to-date odds, see our Kentucky Derby odds page. Learn more about the Kentucky Derby Post Position and why it matters in our detailed explainer.

Post Position Horse Odds
1 Dornoch 20/1
2 Sierra Leonne 3/1
3 Mystik Dan 20/1
4 Catching Freedom 8/1
5 Catalytic 30/1
6 Just Steel 20/1
7 Honor Marie 20/1
8 Just A Touch 10/1
9 Encino 20/1
10 T O Password 50/1
11 Forever Young 30/1
12 Track Phantom 20/1
13 West Saratoga 50/1
14 Endlessly 30/1
15 Domestic Product 30/1
16 Grand Mo The First 50/1
17 Fierceness 5/2
18 Stronghold 20/1
19 Resilience 20/1
20 Society Man 50/1
21 Epic Ride 50/1
22 Mugatu 50/1

Odds courtesy of TwinSpires.

Best horse racing bonuses

If you're betting on the most exciting two minutes in sports, make sure you bet at the best legal Kentucky Derby betting sites in your region.

FanDuel New Users
$500 No Sweat First Bet! Claim Now

bet365 New Users
Bet $5, get $150 in bonus bets! Claim Now

Eligible USA locations only. Also, see our full list of best sportsbook promotions for 2024.
21+. Gambling Problem? Call 1-800-GAMBLER

Understanding horse racing bets

New to horse racing? Don't be intimidated by the betting process. Our guides on how to bet on the Kentucky Derby and pari-mutuel betting guide will have you placing wagers confidently.

Exacta bets explained

An Exacta bet requires you to pick two horses to finish first and second in any sequence. If you wager on Horse A and Horse B, for instance, you win whether the race finishes in A-B or B-A order.

Trifecta bets explained

In a Trifecta bet, your task is to predict the horses that will finish in first, second, and third places in exact order. It's a tougher wager than an Exacta and offers a higher payout. For a winning Trifecta bet, the horses must finish in the precise order you predicted.

Pages related to this topic

Popular Content

Legal Canadian sports betting

Best Canadian betting sites Ontario sports betting
Covers 25 Years Logo Established in 1995,
Covers is the world
leader in sports
betting information.
Covers is verified safe by: Evalon Logo GPWA Logo GDPR Logo GeoTrust Logo Evalon Logo