2024 Kentucky Derby Early Odds: Unexpected Fierceness Across the Board

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US-Venezuelan Jockey Javier Castellano on Mage races during the 149th Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs Racetrack on May 2023. Leandro Lozada/AFP

The 150th Kentucky Derby is right around the corner and the morning line odds have been determined after the post position draw took place on Saturday, April 27th. The top-rated sportsbooks have also posted futures odds for the Run for the Roses, the first leg of the Triple Crown.

How to Watch the 2024 Kentucky Derby

  • When: Saturday, May 4, 2024
  • Time: 02:30 PM ET
  • Where: Churchill Downs
  • How to Watch: NBC/Peacock

2024 Kentucky Derby Field Info

2024 Kentucky Derby Info

  • Race: 12
  • Post Time: 6:45 PM ET
  • Race Status: Grade 1
  • Distance: Race 1 1/4 miles
  • Conditions: Dirt
  • Purse: $5,000,000
  • Track: Left-handed

The “most exciting two minutes in sport” are back as the field for the 2024 Kentucky Derby was determined a couple of weeks ago and with the post-position draw taking place on Saturday, April 27th, we can start thinking about some strategy.

However, we had already been looking at the futures odds posted by partner books. It’s clear this year’s edition will be marked by fierce competition and I’m not just saying that because Fierceness is the current favorite (11/4) at both Bovada (visit our Bovada Review) and Bookmaker (visit our Bookmaker Review).

However, if we turn our attention to BetOnline (visit our BetOnline Review), both Fierceness and Sierra Leone are tied at 3/1 and it seems the latter has been gaining momentum amongst some bettors.

2024 Kentucky Derby Futures Odds

The Contenders

After that, we have 10 three-year-old Thoroughbreds with odds that range from 10/1 to 20/1. Despite the longer odds, some handicappers see potential in this crop of contenders. For example, Just a Touch (20/1) has received praise from experts such as Michelle Yu, making him an interesting option. 

Speaking of Just a Touch, his trainer Brad Cox could have an epic Run for the Roses as two more of his horses might compete. Depending on where you shop, Catching Freedom is around 10/1 and Encino is anywhere from 20/1 to 40/1. Catching Freedom is coming off a victory at the Louisiana Derby and has three wins in five starts.

Still Too Early

Given that the post-position draw has yet to take place, it’s still too early to talk about any real strategy. However, we do have an idea of the Beyer Speed Figures (BSF) for the field. This is important given that, recently,  previous winners have seen extremely fast paces.

So, what are the Beyer Speed Figures and how can they give us an idea of what to expect? The BSF is a handicapping tool developed by Andrew Beyer, a syndicated horse racing columnist for The Washington Post back in the early 1970s. The idea behind it is to rate the performance of horses in North America to compare the speed of any given Thoroughbred against its competition for upcoming races.

Beyer Speed Figures

According to expert Dave Bontempo, 28 of the last 32 Kentucky Derby winners posted a minimum BSF of 95. Even more interesting, out of the last 14 winners, 11 of them had a BSF above 100.

After looking at the most recent data, it’s clear this is one of the reasons why Fierceness is considered by many the favorite. He has recorded the two highest BSFs of the entire field, most recently posting a 110 while winning the Florida Derby. On that note, one of my favorites could be a wildcard as Forever Young is currently sitting at 10/1. However, given that he is a Japanese horse, the BSF figures are not available.

Now, this is just another tool. For example, the recent winner of the Santa Anita Derby, Stronghold, has the 5th slowest BSF.

There’s still a lot of time to gather our thoughts, curate more information and wait for the post-position draw to take place so stay tuned to BMR and our Kentucky Derby coverage.

*The line and/or odds on picks in this article might have moved since the content was commissioned. For updated line movements, visit BMR’s free betting odds product.