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Kentucky Derby 2024 Latest News & Top Contenders | It’s The Final Countdown
Bath House Stakes (Tommy Land/Eclipse Sportswire/CSM)

Kentucky Derby 2024 Latest News & Top Contenders | It’s The Final Countdown

Aaron discusses the latest 2024 Kentucky Derby (G1) news, then gives his updated top rankings.

Which horses are on the rise? Whose stocks are falling?

Leave YOUR Kentucky Derby rankings in the Comments!


Visit our Kentucky Derby page for the latest news, rankings, prep race schedules, the Kentucky Derby point standings, and much more!

1. Fierceness

Pros: 110 Beyer is top amongst this group; no doubt the most talented horse in the crop

Cons: Incredibly inconsistent

Outlook: He put up another head-scratcher in the Holy Bull Stakes (G3), then rebounded with a breathtaking Florida Derby (G1) win. Which Fierceness will show up in the Kentucky Derby? That’s the only question mark.

2. Sierra Leone

Pros: Tremendous turn of foot; has lots of room to improve; winner of two straight preps

Cons: Running style could be troubling

Outlook: He backed up his Risen Star Stakes (G2) victory with another impressive win in the Blue Grass Stakes (G1). He’s getting better with each start for Chad Brown, who has his best chance yet to win the Kentucky Derby.

3. Catching Freedom

Pros: Seemed to improve in his last race; great connections

Cons: Running style is going to be a problem

Outlook: His Louisiana Derby (G2) victory was very impressive considering he was last up the back side. He’ll need to get better positioning in the Kentucky Derby, but he’s established himself as a prime contender.

4. Forever Young

Pros: Undefeated with 5 straight impressive victories

Cons: International horses are always a mystery

Outlook: This horse’s hype is massive. He ran well enough to get the job done last time out in the UAE Derby (G2) and remain undefeated. The international horses are always a mystery, though, so we’ll see if he’s finally the one to break the mold.

5. Honor Marie

Pros: Improved greatly in his second start; has a stakes win a Churchill Downs

Cons: Had every chance to win the Louisiana Derby (G2) but got out-kicked

Outlook: After a poor run in the Risen Star Stakes (G2), this horse improved in a major way in the Louisiana Derby, finishing second to Catching Freedom. The Kentucky Derby will be his third race off of the layoff, which should lead to his best effort on the biggest day of his career.

6. Just a Touch

Pros: Continues to improve; look good stretching out in distance

Cons: Lightly raced; was defeated cleanly in the Blue Grass Stakes (G1)

Outlook: This horse is getting better with each start and has never finished worse than second in all three career races. His running style is favorable as well, which will be a big help in a 20-horse field.

7. Encino

Pros: Three straight solid wins; improving with each start; improved on the dirt

Cons: Quick turnaround to run in the Derby; connections are on the fence

Outlook: He looked great in his dirt debut, winning the Lexington Stakes (G3) in solid fashion. His connections are on the fence when it comes to running in the Kentucky Derby, but he’s earned his way into the field with back-to-back stakes victories.

8. Endlessly

Pros: Rapidly improving for a solid trainer

Cons: Dirt is a major question mark

Outlook: This horse’s next start is in limbo. At first, he was heading back to the turf, but there’s now talk that he could run in the Kentucky Derby. If he takes to the dirt, then he’ll have a chance, but he might be a better threat on grass.

9. Stronghold

Pros: Impressive wins in the Sunland Derby (G3) & Santa Anita Derby (G1)

Cons: Numbers are still pretty slow

Outlook: His Sunland Derby win was solid, but he really stamped himself as a contender when winning the Santa Anita Derby. He’s gotten better with each start this season, which is good to see, but he still needs a step up from a speed figure standpoint to have a chance.

10. Just Steel

Pros: Consistent; plenty of experience

Cons: Speed figures our low; lacks finishing kick; hasn’t been closing to winning a prep

Outlook: D. Wayne Lukas is back in the Kentucky Derby after this horse finished second in 3 of the 4 Oaklawn Park prep races. He’s a prime candidate to hit the board, but he must improve a bit if he wants to win the race.

11. Dornoch

Pros: Solid foundation; multiple graded stakes winner

Cons: Still seems a bit green and needs to figure things out

Outlook: We didn’t learn much in the Fountain of Youth Stakes (G2) after all of the scratches, but we did learn that he can’t set off the pace and win, as he finished off the board in the Blue Grass Stakes (G1). At this point, you probably just need to send him to the lead in the Kentucky Derby and hope for the best.

12. Resilience

Pros: Seems to be improving

Cons: Numbers are low

Outlook: This horse could be developing at the right time to make an impact in this race. Two starts back, he was a solid fourth in the Risen Star Stakes (G2) – a race that has had three next-out winners – and his Wood Memorial Stakes (G2) win was pretty impressive.

13. Domestic Product

Pros: Determined win in the Tampa Bay Derby (G3)

Cons: Numbers are low

Outlook: You have to give him credit for closing into a slow pace and winning the Tampa Bay Derby. While the time was slow and the speed figures came back light, at least he seems to be getting better with each start.

14. Mystik Dan

Pros: 101 Beyer for winning the Southwest Stakes (G3)

Cons: Inconsistent; best race was in the slop

Outlook: His Southwest Stakes win was among the most impressive that we saw from any Kentucky Derby-eligible horses this year. However, he couldn’t replicate it in the Arkansas Derby (G1), where he finished third. He’s a nice horse, but he may need the slop to reach an elite level.

15. Track Phantom

Pros: Solid running style; good connections

Cons: Numbers are consistently low

Outlook: This horse is almost like a robot at this point. He basically runs the same race every time, which is good, but not great. I love his running style and the way he goes about his business, but he’s just not fast enough when the real running begins.

16. West Saratoga

Pros: Great story; solid experience; has a win at Churchill Downs

Cons: Doesn’t seem to be fast enough; hasn’t threatened to win this year

Outlook: This horse’s connections have a great story. From a speed figure standpoint, he looks a tad slow, but weird things can happen in this race.

17. Catalytic

Pros: Seems to be improving with each race

Cons: Lightly raced; speed figures are low

Outlook: He earned his way here with a second-place effort in the Florida Derby (G1), though he was a mile behind the winner. He’ll need to show major improvement to have a chance.

18. Society Man

Pros: Solid second in his last race

Cons: Hadn’t shown much until last start; numbers are low

Outlook: It’s a nice story to see this horse going into the Kentucky Derby after running second at 99/1 in the Wood Memorial Stakes (G2). We’ll see if the story can continue in the big one.

19. Grand Mo the First

Pros: Back to back third place efforts in prep races

Cons: Low figures; distant third in the Florida Derby (G1)

Outlook: This is another horse with a nice story who earned his way into the race. However, he needs to improve his speed figures mightily to make an impact in this race.

20. T O Password

Pros: Recent win in the Fukuryu Stakes

Cons: We don’t know much about him

Outlook: This rule really needs to be changed. He “earned” his way here by winning the biggest prep race in Japan, which gives him an automatic spot in the Kentucky Derby. This is unfair because it keeps out a more deserving horse that has been running in the United States.

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