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Kentucky Derby & Churchill Downs Picks: Who Is Favored To Win The 2024 Kentucky Derby?

Adam Thompson for Bookies.com

Adam Thompson  | 4 mins

Kentucky Derby & Churchill Downs Picks:  Who Is Favored To Win The 2024 Kentucky Derby?

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Bookies.com handicapper Adam Thompson has been crushing horse racing betting for the last three years. If you bet $5 on the 2021 TVG Pacific Classic picks, your account would be $232 fatter. That’s just the latest in a string of horse racing betting success for Thompson, who won $480 on a $10 wager at the 2021 Preakness Stakes and hit the exacta at the Belmont Stakes last year, taking $75 on a $10 bet.

Thompson just missed on a big payday at last year’s Derby but got paid on six of the seven other races plus a massive 42/1 Exacta Box to finish up huge on the weekend. Then came the Preakness, in which he hit on both the Exacta and Trifecta for another massive weekend finish. He also cashed on eight of the 13 Belmont Stakes races Saturday. 

Now he has set his sights on the 2024 Kentucky Derby, the 150th running of the most prestigious race in the sport. The massive 20-horse field goes to post at 6:57 p.m. ET on Saturday, May 6. 

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2024 Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs

  • When:  May 4, 2024 at 6:57 PM ET
  • Where: Churchill Downs
  • TV: NBC

It doesn’t get any bigger than the Run for the Roses. The horse racing odds at top sportsbooks for the weekend’s Kentucky Derby have two horses near the top of the morning line odds at FanDuel Racing. 

SIERRA LEONE (#2, 3-1 odds) is the best chance for trainer Chad Brown. The horse has four career races, winning three of them. But Leone isn’t known as a strong finisher, and coming out of the No. 2 spot at the crowded Derby has been a death blow to other contenders. No horse has come out of Post 2 to win since 1978. You have to fade one favored horse, and for us, it’s Sierra Leone. 

But we’ll be all over FIERCENESS (#17, 5-2), trained by Todd Pletcher and ridden by John Velazquez. That’s quite a combo, but it’s just the start. He’s not only the strongest finisher, but his speed numbers in three wins have been far above the competition. Winning the Grade 1 Florida Derby has been an indicator of success at the Kentucky Derby. Fierceness not only won the race, but pulled away before the final stretch and increased it to the end. 

Fierceness’ starting position on the outside is a favored spot, too. More than half of the winners the last decade have started at 13th or further. 

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There are five other horses we’ll pair with Fierceness in Exacta and Trifecta wagers, including Sierra Leone. All the others have high odds that would pay off hugely. 

HONOR MARIE (#7, 20-1), JUST A TOUCH (#8, 10-1), STRONGHOLD (#18, 20-1) and RESILIENCE (#19, 20-1) all have speed ratings that rank near Sierra Leone as the second-best in the field of 20. 

Stronghold is coming off a win at the Santa Anita Derby, and Resilience at the G2 Wood Memorial. Honor Marie came up short of 8-1 contender Catching Freedom, though they had nearly the same run and Marie’s odds are far higher. Just A Touch led Sierra Leone at the Blue Grass Stakes before losing by under a length. 


RELATED: RELATED: 2024 Kentucky Derby: Ultimate Betting Guide


Here’s how we’re betting the race and every race at Churchill Downs on Saturday.

Kentucky Derby Picks

  • $15 To Win: 17 ($15)
  • $5 Exacta 17 with 2,7,8,18,19 ($25)
  • $1 Trifecta 17 with 2,7,8,18,19 with 2,7,8,18,19 ($20)

Churchill Downs Saturday Picks

  • RACE 1: 5 To Win; Exacta Box 1,3,5
  • RACE 2: 6 To Win
  • RACE 3: 11 To Win; Exacta 11 with 2,6,9
  • RACE 4: 6 To Win; Exacta Box 1,2,6
  • RACE 5: Exacta Box 4,8,10
  • RACE 6: 7 To Win; Exacta 7 with 1,2,9,10; Trifecta 7 with 1,2,9,10 with 1,2,9,10
  • RACE 7: 7 To Win; Exacta Box 3,5,7
  • RACE 8: 11 To Win
  • RACE 9: 14 To Win; Exacta Box 10,12,14
  • RACE 10: Exacta Box 4,8,11
  • RACE 11: Exacta Box 5,6,7
  • RACE 12: Kentucky Derby (see above)
  • RACE 13: 9 To Win
  • RACE 14: Exacta Box 3,6,12

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About the Author

Adam Thompson for Bookies.com
Adam Thompson
NFL writer and expert Adam Thompson joined Bookies.com in 2019 after a successful run as senior handicapper for SportsLine and CBSSports.com. He's long been established as one of the nation's premier handicappers, specializing in the NFL where he's hit on more than 60% over the past three years. Adam's NBA, PGA and horse racing picks have also produced major winners over the last 12 months. His customized NFL and NBA odds for players and teams have been picked up by hundreds of websites over the past year.