Kentucky Derby Betting Preview

The first Saturday in May is almost here, and that means we are almost ready for “The Most Exciting Two Minutes in Sports” – the Kentucky Derby.

It’s a milestone Derby at Churchill Downs, with the three-year-olds running for the roses for the 150th time. Post time is scheduled for Saturday, May 4, at 6:57 pm ET.

Favorites to Win

If everyone in the 20-horse field runs to the best of their abilities, Fierceness will be your winner. When he wins, he wins big. Fierceness comes into the Derby with three wins by a total of 31 lengths. But when Fierceness loses, which happened twice in the run-up to Saturday’s race, he loses badly. In February at the Holy Bull Stakes, he was an incredible 1-5 favorite against a bad field of competitors, and he only finished third. That followed a 20-plus length loss in the fall.

Fierceness is the deserved favorite because he has the highest ceiling in the field. But there are other horses in the field that can challenge him, so he needs to be on his game. Fierceness is 5-2 in pre-race betting and running from the 17th position.

The other big horse in the field is Sierra Leone, running from the second post and paying 3-1 in pre-race betting. He is the opposite of Fierceness, in that Fierceness will push the pace out of the gate, while Sierra Leone will hang back, and then put together a late charge to the finish.

It’s interesting to note that 2023 Derby winner Mage was just 16th at the half-mile post. Rich Strike, the longshot winner in 2022, was 18th at the half-mile. 

Sierra Leone will not be alone in the back of the pack. Catching Freedom at 8-1 also prefers to finish strong. Catching Freedom also has three wins in five starts, including one of the better proving grounds for Churchill Downs success, the Louisiana Derby.

Other pre-race favorites include Forever Young (10-1) who is trying to become the first Japanese horse to win the Kentucky Derby, and Just a Touch (10-1), who is trained by 2021 Kentucky Derby-winner Brad H. Cox and owned by Qatar Racing.

Longshots to Consider

Finding the next Rich Strike, the horse that won in 2022 at 80-1, is everyone’s dream. In reality, the favorites are the favorites for a reason, and they usually win the race. But when they don’t, there is money to be made on a longshot.

Just Steel is a horse worth taking a chance on. His best race was his most recent race at the Arkansas Derby, indicating that he’s developing as a racer. And he is trained by the legendary D. Wayne Lucas, who has won the Kentucky Derby four times previously. 

Just Steel is running from the sixth post, and is a modest longshot at 20-1.

Running next to Just Steel in the seventh position is Honor Marie, who is also on the pre-race board at 20-1. Honor Marie has run well at Churchill Downs since he broke his maiden last September, and his speed rating continues to improve with each race. And if it rains on Saturday (the forecast is calling for scattered thunderstorms), it’s worth noting that when running on a sloppy track at Churchill Downs in October, he finished second.

Dornoch from the first post is also worth considering. The 20-1 horse prefers to be a front-runner, which fits well with his post position, and he also has had good results when running on a wet and muddy track.

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