Kentucky Derby 2024 : A Comprehensive Guide

As the most anticipated event in the horse racing calendar draws near, excitement and speculation mount around the Kentucky Derby 2024.
Known as “The Most Exciting Two Minutes in Sports,” the Derby not only showcases the pinnacle of equine athleticism but also celebrates a rich tapestry of tradition, fashion, and southern hospitality.

History of the Kentucky Derby

Initiated in 1875, the Kentucky Derby has grown from a local gathering to a national spectacle, marking its place as the first leg of the American Triple Crown.
Held annually at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky, it has witnessed the triumphs of racing legends, each contributing to the storied past of this prestigious event. 

The Derby’s historical significance and enduring legacy are a testament to its founders’ vision, evolving to become a celebration of both equine excellence and cultural heritage.

Quick Facts about the Kentucky Derby

  • Distance: 1.25 miles
  • Surface: Dirt
  • Qualification: 3-year-old Thoroughbreds
  • Attendance: Peaks at over 150,000
  • Traditions: Mint Juleps, the garland of roses, and “My Old Kentucky Home”

Favorites Horses to Win the Kentucky Derby for 2024

The favorites for the 2024 Kentucky Derby have made themselves known through impressive performances and a strong presence in the early odds. Leading the pack is Sierra Leone, marked as a strong contender with odds of +700, showcasing his potential with a notable second-place finish in the 2023 Remsen Stakes​​. 

Close behind him is Dornoch, also a strong performer with a victory in the Remsen Stakes, presenting himself as a key competitor with odds of +1000. Locked, with odds of +1200, has demonstrated significant promise by securing a third-place finish in the 2023 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and is set to run next in the Sam F. Davis (G3). 

Fierceness, a standout with a commanding win in the 2023 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, rounds out the top contenders with odds of +1400, indicating a robust challenge for the title​​​​. 

These horses have emerged as early favorites not only through their recent victories but also through the accumulation of points on the Road to the Kentucky Derby, which ranks contenders based on their performances in preparatory races leading up to the Derby. 

Full Schedule of the Kentucky Derby

The Kentucky Derby 2024 is not just about the race; it’s a two-week festival filled with excitement and tradition. Here’s what you can expect:

Week 1: The Build-Up

  • Opening Night (April 20): The festival kicks off with a bang, featuring live racing and a showcase of the arts.
  • Thunder Over Louisville (April 22): Experience North America’s largest annual fireworks spectacle, alongside an airshow that dazzles over the Ohio River.
  • Great Balloon Fest (April 24-26): Witness colorful hot air balloons fill the sky during the balloon glimmer, race, and fest.
  • Marathon/miniMarathon (April 27): Runners take on the streets of Louisville in one of the most scenic races in the U.S.
  • Pegasus Parade (April 30): The oldest Kentucky Derby Festival event, this parade features spectacular floats and marching bands.

Week 2: The Anticipation

  • Chow Wagon & Fest-a-Ville (May 1-4): Enjoy live music, food, and family-friendly activities on the waterfront.
  • Steamboat Race (May 1): Watch historic steamboats race on the Ohio River in this unique and thrilling event.
  • Derby Eve Gala (May 3): A night of elegance and celebration, setting the stage for Derby Day.

Derby Day (May 4): The Main Event

  • Morning: Gates open early at Churchill Downs. The excitement builds with breakfast and morning cocktails, such as the famous Mint Julep.
  • Early Afternoon: Undercard races begin, showcasing some of the finest talents in horse racing.
  • Late Afternoon: The 2024 Kentucky Derby race. The pinnacle event where the best 3-year-old thoroughbreds compete for the coveted title.
  • Evening: The celebration continues with the Winner’s Party and various events around Louisville.

How to Bet on the Kentucky Derby: A Simplified Guide

Engaging in betting can significantly amplify the excitement of the Kentucky Derby. Here’s a concise guide to get you started:

  1. Types of Bets:
    1. Win: Your horse must finish first.
    2. Place: Your horse must finish first or second.
    3. Show: Your horse must be among the top three.
    4. Exacta: Predict the first and second place horses in the correct order.
    5. Trifecta: Predict the top three in exact order.
    6. Superfecta: Select the first four horses in exact sequence.
  2. Odds: Understand that odds reflect a horse’s perceived chances of winning and dictate your potential payout.
  3. Research: Investigate the horses’ performances, training, and health to make an informed bet.
  4. Expert Advice: Consider insights from racing analysts online for additional guidance.
  5. Strategize: Combine straightforward bets with exactas or trifectas for varied winning opportunities.
  6. Place Your Bet: At the track, approach a betting window with your bet details ready. Online, select the Kentucky Derby, choose your bet type, and confirm. Dont forget to deposit some funds first. 
  7. Enjoy the Race: With your bet in place, watch the race unfold and root for your horse.

By following these streamlined steps, you can navigate Kentucky Derby betting with ease and enjoy one of horse racing’s most celebrated traditions.

How to Watch the Kentucky Derby


In Canada, you can watch the Kentucky Derby 2024 on TSN. It is the official broadcaster for the event, so simply turn your TV to the TSN channel to catch all the action live. For those who have TSN included in their TV package, just tune in to the specified channel on Derby Day to enjoy the full spectacle of the race​​.

At the Arena

To watch the Kentucky Derby in person, purchase tickets from the official Kentucky Derby website or Churchill Downs, book your travel to Louisville, Kentucky, and plan for early arrival on Derby Day. Tickets to this prestigious event start at $1000 and can cost as much as $9000, depending on the package. 

Previous Winners – 2010 – 2023 

The Kentucky Derby honors its champions with immortality. Recent winners have etched their names into the annals of racing history, inspiring future generations of competitors. The list of past victors is a roll call of equine excellence, reflecting the glory and the dreams realized at Churchill Downs.

  • 2023: Mage
  • 2022: Rich Strike
  • 2021: Medina Spirit*
  • 2020: Authentic
  • 2019: Country House
  • 2018: Justify
  • 2017: Always Dreaming
  • 2016: Nyquist
  • 2015: American Pharoah
  • 2014: California Chrome
  • 2013: Orb
  • 2012: I’ll Have Another
  • 2011: Animal Kingdom
  • 2010: Super Saver

This illustrious list showcases the diverse backgrounds and unique stories behind each champion, serving as a testament to the unpredictable and thrilling nature of the Kentucky Derby. Each winner not only claimed victory in the Run for the Roses but also left a lasting legacy in the heart of horse racing enthusiasts worldwide.

*Medina Spirit was initially the winner of the 2021 Kentucky Derby but was later disqualified.


The 2024 Kentucky Derby isn’t just another race; it’s an electrifying mix of speed, tradition, and spectacle. With the world’s eyes fixed on Churchill Downs, anticipation is sky-high for what could be one of the most unforgettable Derbies yet.
Get ready to be part of a thrilling narrative, whether you’re trackside, placing bets, or soaking in the excitement from home. This Derby isn’t just a race; it’s where legends are born and stories of triumph unfold. Don’t miss your chance to witness history in the making.