Kentucky Derby Tips 2024: Back the Japanese star to shock the US

 | 3rd May | 

5 mins read

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The Run for the Roses takes place at just before Midnight UK time on Saturday night (23:57) as 20 of the top three-year-old horses in the world battle it out to win the world-famous Kentucky Derby.

We’ve asked Neil Monnery to preview the race and give us his best Kentucky Derby Tips heading into one of the most exciting two minutes of action on the track anywhere in the world…

Kentucky Derby Tips 2024

  • Forever Young @ 8/1

*Click on the linked odds to add the selections directly to your betslip on (or app).

Even though his horse is not the favourite, nor is he likely to pull off the shock of all shocks but we would be remiss not to start this preview with at least a few words about Frankie Dettori.

Undoubtably one of the most popular figures in the sport, the 53-year-old jockey has taken his talents Stateside and he’ll be riding in the Kentucky Derby for only the second time in his career.

He’ll be on board Society Man, who is one of the rank outsiders in the pool betting over in the States but unsurprisingly, he has attracted some betting interest on this side of the pond and is just 25/1 as of Friday morning.

I’m not going to tip this horse up because getting into the race on the back of a runners-up finish as a 106/1 shot in a NYRA prep race is not exactly the lead-in that makes me think that he’s one of the top contenders. Still, who wouldn’t like to see Frankie win?

Now we get to the meat of the matter and we have joint-favourites as of the time of writing.

First let’s talk about Sierra Leone. Is this finally the horse that gives Chad Brown his long-awaited first win in the Run for the Roses?

Sired by the multiple Grade 1 Winner Gun Runner, this horse was bred to be a star and we’ve not seen any reason to believe that he shouldn’t be right at the very top of the betting. He’s three from four, with his only reversal coming in the Grade 2 Remsen on a muddy track up at Aqueduct.

A move down to warmer climes has worked nicely as he took out the Grade 2 Risen Star before taking a big step-forward in outlasting Just a Touch in the Grade 1 Blue Grass last month. Plenty of reason to really like this one and there is every chance he will go off as the favourite but for those who love Beyer Speed Figures, there is another horse whose numbers might blow you away.

Fierceness for Todd Pletcher put up a stonking 110 in his Florida Derby romp last time out. That compares to the 98 we saw from Sierra Leone in the Blue Grass. He would be the clear-cut favourite had it not been for a disappointing run in the Grade 3 Holy Bull but I’m willing to toss that performance as he was bumped and never re-engaged.

Both are clearly very fine horses and are worthy of being at the top of the betting market but I’m always looking for a bit of value as the top choices don’t often come through at Churchill Downs, well unless they are a Bob Baffert horse in recent years anyway!

Looking deeper in the market though and there are two horses that I just keep coming back to. Just a Touch may not have won either of his prep races on the Road to the Kentucky Derby, yet he’s shown tremendous consistency in speed throughout his career so far and Brad Cox is a mighty-fine trainer.

I also like Forever Young but I’ve been bitten once too often by Japanese horses winning the UAE Derby and then shipping over, only to fall flat when it comes to big races Stateside (Crown Pride, I'm looking firmly in your direction here).

His performances in questionable fields though were fast, real fast, and as an undefeated three-year-old through five starts, he is tough to ignore. He ran the fastest ever final 400m in that race and he did so having come extremely wide. Speed and stamina both seem like big ticks and I so badly want to tip him up but the hype around these shippers always seems to fall flat and the question is, will I learn my lesson or just go with my gut?

Gut wins, I'm going for it. Forever Young at 8/1 to hit and finally put to bed all this talk that no horse can win the Derby coming through the prep races in the UAE and Saudi Arabia. This might be the best Japanese horse we’ve seen even attempt to win the big one and at some point, it just has to happen, doesn’t it?

The top two in the market are worthy of their position but at 3/1, they are just too short in a field of 20 for me to back them. Give me the 8/1 shot and the 11% probability of winning the race as the value play in the market. Heck, even each-way and have him finish in the top four would be a profitable play should it come about. The speed is clearly there, the question is can he put it together after the long ship over?

Find more Horse Racing Tips here at Betfred Insights

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