Horse Racing

Kentucky Derby Betting: 3 Best Bets to Win Today's Kentucky Derby

FanDuel Staff
FanDuel Staff
Kentucky Derby Betting: 3 Best Bets to Win Today's Kentucky Derby

The Kentucky Derby runs today at Churchill Downs. The race, open to 20 of the best three-year-olds in the country, covers 1 1/4 miles. The horses qualified for the race by running in a series of points races between last fall and this spring, and the spoils are rich -- a $5 million purse (up from $3 million in 2023) and a place in horse racing history.

The Derby is not only exciting for the connections of the horses, but it is the premier horse racing betting event of the year. With 20 horses trying a distance longer than any has ever tried, it is a fascinating mix of class, pace, trip, and pedigree.

Coming up with Kentucky Derby picks is one of the greatest puzzles in horse racing. That statement has never been more true than in recent times: though favorites won the first six editions of the Kentucky Derby during the points era, the favorite has not won in each of the last five years, including longshot winners Rich Strike (80 to 1) and Country House (65 to 1).

Naturally, you can bet on which horse will win the Kentucky Derby with FanDuel Racing. Discover the exciting 2024 Kentucky Derby promos to wager on FDR and FanDuel Sportsbook and get up to $20 back on your bet!

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Kentucky Derby Betting

Who Will Win the Kentucky Derby?

All horse racing betting odds come from FanDuel Racing and may change after this article is published.

Honor Marie

The best bet in the Kentucky Derby is Honor Marie.

He has the right running style for this race: he is a closer who reliably fires. Even in his first start of the year, the Risen Star Stakes (G2), he didn’t hit the board but was still making up ground late. The pace that day was slow, too. He will likely get a faster, more advantageous setup in the Kentucky Derby for him to show his best.

Even though Honor Marie has to make up a length on Catching Freedom from this second-place finish in the Louisiana Derby (G2), there are plenty of reasons he can. For one, the Whit Beckman trainee comes into the Kentucky Derby on the third start of his form cycle: exactly when he found his best as a two-year-old.

That shining moment of his juvenile year came at Churchill Downs -- he won the Kentucky Jockey Club (G2) over the course. Between that and a strong recent work over the racetrack, signs are good that he is coming into his best form over the Kentucky Derby course once again.

Honor Marie also has an appealing pedigree for the 1 1/4-mile distance of the Kentucky Derby. His sire, Honor Code, is an A.P. Indy son who won a Grade 1 at 1 1/8 miles and hit the board in the Breeders’ Cup Classic. His dam, Dame Marie, is a Smart Strike half to Rule of Law: winner of the St. Leger (G1) at 1 3/4 miles.

Finally, the price will be right. He is 20-1 on the morning line, and though actually getting that price seems like a pipe dream, something between 12-1 and 15-1 in the Kentucky Derby odds at post time is both likely and a good betting value.

Sierra Leone

Leading into the Kentucky Derby, Blue Grass winner Sierra Leone is looking like the second betting choice behind Fierceness. Though Fierceness is the shorter price on the morning line and in the Kentucky Derby betting futures in Las Vegas, Sierra Leone may be the more likely winner.

Sierra Leone is another one who will benefit from the strong pace early in the Kentucky Derby. This Chad Brown trainee is a closer who always makes his run. In fact, he is only a nose shy of perfect, as he just missed in the Remsen (G2) last fall. He returned strongly in the Risen Star, closing to win despite a pedestrian pace.

Then, he showed his dazzling best in the Blue Grass. Behind sharp early fractions, he settled toward the rear, mounted the kind of menacing run on the far turn that so often flattens out in the lane -- but just kept coming down the stretch, winning by 1 1/2 lengths over Just a Touch. That was a testament to both the quality and the stamina of Sierra Leone, and it was an excellent last race before the Kentucky Derby.

The biggest concern about Sierra Leone is the post position, although that isn’t a particularly big concern. In the Kentucky Derby, he is drawn in the No. 2 gate, meaning he will start inside of a lot of traffic. But as a closer who can let others run before beginning to mount his rally, he has plenty of chance to settle back and then tip out for a big outside run like he mounted last out at Keeneland.

Catching Freedom

If we’re focusing on horses who can get the best of the pace setup in the Kentucky Derby, Catching Freedom has to be in the picture. Winner of the Louisiana Derby last out, he kicked on from dead last to out-finish Honor Marie by a length. The Louisiana Derby also revealed upside in the sense that he is handling the extending distances well; he ran like a horse who liked 1 3/16 miles and shouldn’t have a problem with 1 1/4.

However, he does not have to drop that far back. He finished third in the Risen Star from closer up and won the Smarty Jones Stakes at Oaklawn from closer up, as well. Though Catching Freedom is always going to be a late runner, the Brad Cox trainee’s ability to at least sit a little closer toward mid-pack is an appealing dimension in case there are some scratches of speed horses or if the track is playing biased against deeper closers on Kentucky Derby day.

One other interesting factor about Catching Freedom is his jockey. Flavien Prat is as consistent as a jockey gets in the Kentucky Derby. In six tries, he has hit the board five times, including winning once with Country House in 2019. That record testifies to Prat’s ability to get the best of a horse going 1 1/4 miles at Churchill Downs with the eyes of the horse racing world watching.

Kentucky Derby Honorable Mention

Of course, with the superfecta bet so popular in the Kentucky Derby, it’s always good to have a fourth horse in the mix.

Even with a sharp Kentucky Derby pace likely to unfold, there is often a horse near the pace who is good enough and game enough to keep battling on to the finish and find the frame. Just a Touch looks like that horse in the 2024 Kentucky Derby. He cedes experience to most of the Kentucky Derby runners, with only three starts to his name. However, the Brad Cox trainee has shown a lot of talent in that time.

Just a Touch has shown a stalking style in all his races. He broke his maiden at one turn over the Fair Grounds slop, then finished second to Deterministic in a sloppy Gotham. However, what makes him most interesting is his performance in the Blue Grass -- his first two-turn race and his first effort over a dry track.

In the 1 1/8-mile Blue Grass Stakes, Just a Touch pressed a fast pace and took the lead in the lane. He could not hold off the impressive closing run of Sierra Leone, but he still finished 3 3/4 lengths clear of third-place Epic Ride. With upside to improve in his fourth start, proven big-race jockey Florent Geroux in the irons, and an excellent draw, Just a Touch is the most appealing of the horses in the Kentucky Derby who have shown pace.

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