Kentucky Derby 150: My Picks

May 4, 2024

The first Saturday of May has arrived and that means it’s Kentucky Derby Day. It should be a very exciting two minutes of action as 20 horses take to the track for the 150th Run for the Roses.

As I’ve written about in the past, the Kentucky Derby is a must-attend event. However, if you’re having your own Derby Party I’ve got some helpful tips. Wagering on the race always makes it fun. For some of you beginners, here is a helpful list of some horse racing betting basics to help get you started.

If you choose to bet some exotics wagers (Exacta, Trifecta, Superfecta etc.), this is the day to do it as the prices are generally high given the fact the field is as large as you’ll see with 20 horses breaking from the starting gate.

Weather has been a factor recently in six of the last 14 races on sloppy tracks. Friday’s Kentucky Oak’s card was run under sloppy conditions. Today spotty showers are forecasted for Saturday in Louisville, so it will be something worth monitoring. The track has state of the art drainage systems so I am hopeful it will remain in good condition.

Let’s first take a look at the full slate of horses on tap to be in the race:

1. Dornoch, Danny Gargan, Luis Saez, 17-1
2. Sierra Leone, Chad Brown, Tyler Gaffalione, 5-1
3. Mystik Dan, Kenny McPeek, Brian Hernandez Jr., 25-1
4. Catching Freedom, Brad Cox, Flavien Prat, 8-1
5. Catalytic, Saffie Joseph Jr., Jose Ortiz, 37-1
6. Just Steel, D. Wayne Lukas, Keith Asmussen, 32-1
7. Honor Marie, Whit Beckman, Ben Curtis, 15-1
8. Just a Touch, Brad Cox, Florent Geroux, 14-1
9. Encino, Brad Cox, Axel Concepcion, – SCRATCHED
10. T O Password, Daisuke Takayanagi, Kazushi Kimura, 59-1
11. Forever Young, Yoshito Yahagi, Ryusei Sakai, 8-1
12. Track Phantom, Steve Asmussen, Joel Rosario, 50-1
13. West Saratoga, Larry Demeritte, Jesus Castanon, 30-1
14. Endlessly, Michael McCarthy, Umberto Rispoli, 48-1
15. Domestic Product, Chad Brown, Irad Ortiz Jr., 31-1
16. Grand Mo the First, Victor Barboza Jr., Emisael Jaramillo, 59-1
17. Fierceness, Todd Pletcher, John Velazquez, 2-1
18. Stronghold, Phil D’Amato, Antonio Fresu, 39-1
19. Resilience, Bill Mott, Junior Alvarado, 27-1
20. Society Man, Danny Gargan, Frankie Dettori, 63-1
21. Epic Ride, John Ennis, Adam Beschizza, 60-1

Here’s a look at the horses that pop out to me in the field:


#2 Sierra Leone (3-1): The inside post isn’t ideal, but it’s not as big of an issue for a closer like this colt. Trainer Chad Brown could finally get into the winner’s circle in the Run for Roses. The Bluegrass Stakes winner is his best crack yet after going winless with any of his previous seven starters.

#8 Just a Touch (10-1): The horse is a bit inexperienced with just four starts and no races as a 2-year old. That is becoming more common with two of the last six Derby winners to share that trait (Mage – 2023; Justify – 2021). He certainly looked like he could hang in the Bluegrass Stakes and another effort like that could win here.

#17 Fierceness (5-2): You can try to beat the favorite and in a race like this anything can happen, but Fierceness is by far the class of the race. John Velazquez knows what it takes to win and if he gets anything close to his horse’s best here we could see an epic performance. Those that have followed my picks know I almost always use the Florida Derby winner at the top of my wheel and this year will be no different.


#4 Catching Freedom (8-1): Flavien Prat has been red hot at Churchill Downs this week and this horse definitely appears to be well equipped for the distance. The hard closer is a legitimate contender to be amongst the top horses crossing the wire.

#7 Honor Marie (20-1): With three career trips on the track and some impressive training numbers Honor Marie is one to keep your eyes on and one of my favorite value plays in the race.

#11 Forever Young (10-1): We’ve seen some rock solid Japan horses in the Derby in recent years and this one may be the best of the bunch. That said none of the 19 UAE Derby-to-KY Derby starters have hit the board. I’m not putting him on top, but don’t ignore him either.

#18 Stronghold (20-1): This horse has finished in the exact in six of six races and though his path here wasn’t as challenging as others in the field he has enough likable attributes to put him in the mix of contenders in this one.


#1 Dornach (20-1): The brother of last year’s Derby winner drew the dreaded No. 1 post. He’s shown enough flashes for me to include him on the bottom of my exotics.

#3 Mystik Dan (20-1): Come on, you know I wasn’t going to leave a horse with my name in it out of the wheel. I will also be throwing a small win wager on it. Name aside, this colt ran one of the fastest beyers in the field and that came on a sloppy track, which could prove to be valuable experience today if the track gets messy.

#15 Domestic Product (30-1): It’s hard for me not to play a horse with these connections (Chad Brown / Irad Ortiz Jr.) at such a big price. The colt has been training well so I am optimistic he’s primed to run a big race here.


#6 Just Steel (20-1)
#10 T O Password (30-1)
#12 Track Phantom (20-1)
#19 Resilience (20-1)


#5 Catalytic (30-1)
#13 West Saratoga (50-1)
#14 Endlessly (30-1)
#16 Grand Mo the First (50-1)
#20 Society Man (50-1)
#21 Epic Ride (30-1)


I like doing a Tri-Wheel each year that keys a few horses on top with about half the field on the bottom in third place. I have posted this Tri-wheel on every year since I launched the website in 2003. It has hit six times in those 20 years, but it has been a few years since it last hit.

I would have had it in 2019 had Maximum Security not been wrongfully taken down due to an objection. In 2020, I had all of the horses, but just missed as I only had the winner, Authentic, to finish second and third.

During my span of posting these picks the average $1 Tri has paid over $7,000. My two best hits came in 2003 (Funny Cide) and 2010 (Super Saver). Last year’s $1 Tri paid $982.36.

In addition to my Tri wheel, I’ve picked the winner eight times in 21 years and had the exacta seven times as well. Let’s see if we can add to the winnings in 2024 and get back on track!

Here are my picks:

  • $15 W – #17 Fierceness
  • $5 W – #3 Mystic Dan (longshot play)
  • $2 EX Wheel – 2, 8, 17 with 2, 3, 4, 7, 8, 11, 17, 18 (total $42 – you can drop to $1 EX box and only pay $21 for bet)
  • $1 Tri Wheel (total $144 – you can drop it down to $0.50 Tri wheel and only pay $72)

2, 8, 17 with…

2, 4, 7, 8, 11, 17, 18 with…

1, 2, 3, 4, 7, 8, 11, 15, 17, 18


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