Horse Racing

3 Horses Who Could Win the 2024 Triple Crown

FanDuel Staff
FanDuel Staff
3 Horses Who Could Win the 2024 Triple Crown

The Kentucky Derby is coming up at Churchill Downs on Saturday, May 4. The race is the first of the three Triple Crown races, and that series is the biggest challenge many horses ever face: three long races in five weeks, against the classiest company they have ever seen. The Kentucky Derby happens the first Saturday in May, the Preakness Stakes on the third Saturday in May, and then the Belmont Stakes three weeks later, on the first or second Saturday in June. Winning the Triple Crown requires not only top form on Kentucky Derby day, but the ability to hold that form.

The Triple Crown is one of the toughest challenges in American sports. Not only does it require winning three races, but since you can only run in the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes, and Belmont Stakes at age three, a horse only gets one chance to win the Triple Crown. Dating all the way back to 1919, when Sir Barton won the first Triple Crown, only 13 horses have swept the series.

The Road to the Kentucky Derby has drawn to a close, and the Run for the Roses is taking shape. But, what horses have a chance to win all three Triple Crown races?

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1. Sierra Leone

Any list of horses who can shine in the 2024 Kentucky Derby and beyond has to start with Sierra Leone. If not for a lone runner-up finish, when Dornoch got his nose down over a muddy track in the Remsen (G2) at Aqueduct last fall, this Chad Brown trainee would be coming into Churchill Downs undefeated.

Both of his prep races at age 3 have been brilliant. In the Risen Star Stakes (G2) at Fair Grounds, the dark bay colt by Gun Runner overcame a dawdling pace in front of him, made his trademark closing run, and got up by half a length over Track Phantom. In the Blue Grass Stakes (G1) at Keeneland, he looked even better. He began a threatening run around the far turn, something a lot of horses would not be able to sustain, especially at 1 ⅛ miles. Sierra Leone kept finding more, overhauling the up-and-coming Just a Touch and clearing off to win by 1 ½ lengths.

Though so many closers are pace-dependent, Sierra Leone has proven that he can make a winning run whether the pace is snappy or sluggish. And, with so much speed likely in the Kentucky Derby, he has an excellent chance of winning the first Triple Crown race—after all, the first step to becoming a Triple Crown winner is becoming a Kentucky Derby winner! With consistency, stamina, and the ability to run his race wherever he goes, Sierra Leone has the tools to become the 14th Triple Crown winner.

2. Catching Freedom

The Louisiana Derby has been rising in profile in recent years. Though a Louisiana Derby winner has not won the first leg of the Triple Crown since Grindstone in 1996, its winners have been leading contenders in the Kentucky Derby lately. Louisiana Derby winner Epicenter was the Kentucky Derby favorite two years ago, and other top-class horses like Gun Runner and Hot Rod Charlie have won Fair Grounds’ feature race over the last ten years.

Catching Freedom can add shine to that legacy, and if all goes well, the Brad Cox trainee could even become the first Triple Crown winner to come out of New Orleans. The bay son of Constitution was a maiden winner at Churchill Downs on debut, so the footing in the Kentucky Derby should be to his liking. He also won the Smarty Jones at Oaklawn and the Louisiana Derby at Fair Grounds, proving that he can carry winning form to multiple tracks. And, he finished the Louisiana Derby like a horse who will not mind the final sixteenth of the Run for the Roses.

Catching Freedom has never run a bad race. When fourth in an allowance last fall, he ran into traffic but kept fighting to the wire, and even when he was third in the Risen Star, he also ran into some late trip trouble. In order to win the Kentucky Derby (and hence the Triple Crown), he will need to stay out of trouble, and also turn the tables on Sierra Leone, who beat him in the Risen Star. But, he is on his way up, and with so much early speed in this year’s Triple Crown class, this consistent horse has a good chance to keep running strong races.

3. Fierceness

The most likely favorite in the Kentucky Derby, Fierceness could win the Triple Crown if he shows his best form at Churchill Downs, Pimlico Race Course, and Saratoga. At his best, this Todd Pletcher trainee is brilliant. He showed that when breaking his maiden at Saratoga last summer. He showed that again in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) at Santa Anita Park, where he attended the pace and blasted clear to win by 6 ¼ lengths. Fierceness showed it again in the Florida Derby (G1) at Gulfstream Park, where he got his own way on the lead and glided 13 ½ lengths clear when all was said and done. In all three of these outings, he was clearly the best horse.

However, his trip down the Kentucky Derby trail has been less than consistent. Over a sloppy track in the Champagne (G1) last October at Aqueduct, the bay colt by City of Light started poorly and finished a flat sixth behind Timberlake. And, in his seasonal debut in the Holy Bull Stakes (G3), he had another bad start and finished third, 3 ½ lengths behind Hades.

In short? Fierceness has a lot of speed, and on his best day, he is as fast as any horse in this three-year-old class. But, he either needs to get his own way three times in a row, or he needs to learn to adapt when the race does not start perfectly for him. With so much other speed likely to be drawn into the Kentucky Derby, this is a serious question for Fierceness to answer.

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