The Kentucky Derby, often dubbed "The Most Exciting Two Minutes in Sports," is set to captivate racing enthusiasts once again on May 4, 2024, at the iconic Churchill Downs. As the anticipation builds, let's take a closer look at some of the Kentucky Derby 2024 horses and odds, examining the top contenders and potential underdogs vying for the coveted garland of roses.

Fierceness Leads the Pack

Fierceness, currently sitting at 5-2 odds, is the current favorite. This talented filly, who triumphed in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile last year, has continued to impress with a recent victory in the Florida Derby. Fierceness's ability to handle different track conditions and her tenacity in the stretch make her the horse to pick.

Fillies have a storied history in the Kentucky Derby, with three winning the race since 2007. If Fierceness can channel the spirit of past champions like Winning Colors (1988) and Genuine Risk (1980), she could etch her name in the annals of racing history. 

Additionally, Fierceness will be ridden by John Velázquez, who has won the Kentucky Derby three times since 2011. He’s also trained by the legendary Todd Pletcher who has two Derby victories.

Sierra Leone: A Formidable Challenger

Sierra Leone is next in line with 3-1 odds. This talented horse has been turning heads with impressive performances leading up to the Derby. Trained by Chad Brown, Sierra Leone possesses a perfect blend of speed and stamina. With a string of graded stakes wins under his belt, including a dominant performance in the Blue Grass Stakes, this colt has solidified his position as the one to watch.

However, the Kentucky Derby is known for its unpredictability, and favorites and runner-ups don't always cross the finish line first. In fact, over the past five years, only one winner has had odds shorter than +1000. While Sierra Leone's credentials are undeniable, bettors should approach with caution and consider the potential for an upset.

Forever Young: The Dark Horse

While Sierra Leone and Fierceness have garnered the most attention, Forever Young (10-1) is quietly emerging as a dark horse contender. This late-blooming colt has the potential to become the first Japanese-bred horse to ever win the Kentucky Derby.

Trained by Yoshito Yahagi, Forever Young has been an international star thus far. Since October 2023, the horse has won five races overseas, including the Saudi Derby and UAE Derby. Only time will tell if it can bring its success over to America.

Longshots to Watch

The beauty of the Kentucky Derby lies in its ability to produce stunning upsets. In recent years, longshots like Country House (+6500 in 2019) and Rich Strike (+8000 in 2022) have defied the odds to claim the roses.

Among the current longshots, Just a Touch (+1000), while not much of a longshot, is being talked about by many experts. It is coming off a second-place finish in the Blue Grass Stakes to Sierra Leone, a race that saw a lot of talented horses, some of which are in this week’s Derby. 

Another popular longshot is Honor Marie (+2000), already a two-time winner and a runner-up in the Louisiana Derby to Catching Freedom (+8000). This horse was bred in Kentucky and won the 2023 Kentucky Jockey Club.

A Legacy of Tradition

The Kentucky Derby's roots stretch back to 1875 when Meriwether Lewis Clark, Jr., grandson of famed explorer William Clark, traveled to Europe and was inspired by prestigious races like the Epsom Derby. Upon his return, Clark founded the Louisville Jockey Club and began constructing Churchill Downs. The first Kentucky Derby featured a field of 15 horses, with Aristides claiming victory in front of a crowd of 10,000.

Since its inception, the Kentucky Derby has become more than just a horse race; it's a cultural phenomenon. The iconic twin spires of Churchill Downs, the festive atmosphere, the tradition of mint juleps, and the extravagant hats have all become synonymous with the Derby.

Over the years, the Kentucky Derby has witnessed countless legendary performances and dramatic finishes. From Secretariat's record-breaking run in 1973 to Justify's Triple Crown victory in 2018, the race has consistently delivered moments of pure sporting brilliance. The Kentucky Derby is a testament to the enduring power of thoroughbred racing and holds a cherished place in American sporting history.

The Stage is Set

As the countdown to the 2024 Kentucky Derby begins, the excitement is palpable. With Fierceness leading the charge, Siera Leone close behind, and Forever Young lurking in the shadows, the stage is set for a thrilling showdown at Churchill Downs.

But let's not forget the potential for a long shot to steal the spotlight. The Kentucky Derby has a way of producing unforgettable moments and unexpected heroes.

So, whether you're backing the favorites or taking a chance on an underdog, one thing is certain: the 2024 Kentucky Derby will be a race for the ages. Get ready to witness history in the making as these magnificent thoroughbreds chase immortality on the first Saturday in May.

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