2025 Kentucky Derby Trifecta Picks

Our 2024 Kentucky Derby trifecta picks are in! Review our recommendations for a successful straight trifecta and a 5 horse trifecta part wheel bet. Hitting a straight trifecta bet is extremely difficult. It’s better to wheel multiple horses into your trifecta bet. It’s a smart way to win more money with less risk.

Below, we’ll provide this year’s derby trifecta picks, offer some background on each horse, and explain how to place this exciting bet.


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Kentucky Derby Trifecta Picks

Straight Trifecta Picks

Let’s start with my straight trifecta bet picks. Note each selection must be correct for the bet to win. If you want more flexibility, review the trifecta part wheel picks next.

Straight Trifecta Picks

  • 1: Catching Freedom
  • 2: Fierceness
  • 3: Forever Young

Trifecta Part Wheel Picks

Here are my picks for a winning Kentucky Derby trifecta part wheel bet. Enter the following horses in each trifecta key. Then, cash an easy winning ticket at the Derby.

Part Wheel Keys

  • 1: Catching Freedom, Fierceness, Forever Young
  • 2: Catching Freedom, Fierceness, Sierra Leone
  • 3: Catching Freedom, Forever Young, Sierra Leone, Stronghold

Total Cost: $18, $1 per combination

Pre-Derby Updates

Update 05/04/2024 – Longshot Mystik Dan wins the 2024 Kentucky Derby, paying $39.22/$16.32/$10.00.

Update 05/02/2024 – Our Kentucky Derby Trifecta picks are in! Review our straight trifecta and trifecta part wheel picks for this Saturday’s big race.

Update 05/02/2024 – The top 3 horses by odds remain the same (Fierceness 5/2, Sierra Leone 3/1, Forever Young 17/2), with odds for Sierra Leone improving noticeably. Encino scratched on May 1. Popular long-shots include Dornoch 20/1, Honor Marie 14/1, and Just Steel 22/1.

Update 04/29/2024 – Fierceness is now a clear favorite at 5/2, with Sierra Leone and Forever Young trailing at 17/4 and 17/2 ML odds, respectively. The rest of the field pays 9/1 or higher. The weather forecast for Louisville, Kentucky this Saturday calls for scattered thunderstorms late in the day.

Update 04/20/2024 – Fierceness and Sierra Leone both top the 2024 Derby futures at 3/1 each, with Forever Young now at 8/1.

Ways to bet Trifectas

There are 3 ways to bet trifectas. The most common is the straight trifecta. It’s also the most difficult to reliably win. Trifecta Boxes and Wheels are solid alternatives. You can add more than 3 horses to your trifecta bet. This increases the likelihood of winning with a higher investment upfront.

The following video explains how to place a wheel bet. The procedure is the same for exactas and superfectas. Watch the entire video for help with other bets!

  1. Straight Trifecta Bet – Pick 3 horses to finish in the top 3 positions. Final order matters.
  2. Trifecta Box Bet – Pick any number of horses to finish in the top 3 positions. Final order does not matter.
  3. Trifecta Part Wheel Bet – Select horses to key into each position: first, second and third. Final order does matter depending on how you key each horse.

Efficiency Matters

Trifecta Boxes are more likely to win because final order does not matter. But a box is less efficient than a wheel because you end up buying more combinations than you need.

Trifecta Part Wheels are harder to win because you must select and key horses correctly. However a part wheel is more efficient than a box. You will invest less bankroll to potentially win more money.

Kentucky Derby Trifecta Betting Advice

I recommend a 5 horse Trifecta Part Wheel, keying 3 horses in the first and second position, then 4 horses in the third. Why?

A 5 horse Trifecta Box costs $60, $1 per combination. But a 5 horse Trifecta Part Wheel using my recommendations is only $18, $1 per combination. That means our 4th horse must finish second or third. I add a less-likely 5th horse to finish third, just to cover the bases.

You’ll be making a more efficient bet with higher profit potential. And you’ll be way ahead of the novices betting it all on one horse! Picking 5 horses to finish first, second or third shouldn’t be hard. Plus you get bonus horse for the third key.

2024 Kentucky Derby Odds

Horse futures odds are aggregated and estimated

Horse
TwinSpires Sports Betting TwinSpires
17. Fierceness2/1
Bet
2. Sierra Leone7/2
Bet
11. Forever Young17/2
Bet
4. Catching Freedom9/1
Bet
8. Just a Touch10/1
Bet
7. Honor Marie14/1
Bet
1. Dornoch20/1
Bet
3. Mystik Dan20/1
Bet
18. Stronghold22/1
Bet
6. Just Steel22/1
Bet
15. Domestic Product25/1
Bet
19. Resilience25/1
Bet
12. Track Phantom30/1
Bet
14. Endlessly30/1
Bet
10. T O Password35/1
Bet
13. West Saratoga40/1
Bet
20. Society Man40/1
Bet
21. Epic Ride40/1
Bet
5. Catalytic40/1
Bet
16. Grand Mo the First50/1
Bet

Recent US Graded Stakes Won by Kentucky Derby Entrants

Recent US Graded Stakes Won by Kentucky Derby Entrants
HorseRaces
FiercenessBreeders' Cup Juvenile (2023 G1), Curlin Florida Derby (2024 G1)
Sierra LeoneBlue Grass Stakes (2024 G1), Risen Star Stakes (2024 G2)
Catching FreedomLouisiana Derby (2024 G2)
Honor MarieKentucky Jockey Club Stakes (2023 G2)
DornochFountain Of Youth Stakes (2024 G2), Belmont Stakes (2024 G1), Remsen Stakes (2023 G2)
Mystik DanKentucky Derby (2024 G1), Southwest Stakes (2024 G3)
StrongholdSanta Anita Derby (2024 G1), Sunland Park Derby (2024 G3)
Domestic ProductDwyer Stakes (2024 G3), Tampa Bay Derby (2024 G3)
ResilienceWood Memorial Stakes (2024 G2)
Track PhantomLecomte Stakes (2024 G3)
EndlesslyEl Camino Real Derby (2024 GL), Del Mar Juvenile Turf Stakes (2023 G3), Zuma Beach Stakes (2023 G3), Jeff Ruby Steaks Stakes (2024 G3)
West SaratogaIroquois Stakes (2023 G3)
Society ManMatt Winn Stakes (2024 G3)

How to Key Horses in a Trifecta Part Wheel

Review the trifecta wheel clip from our “How to Bet on Horses” video tutorial. I’ll discuss this wager and each horse below.

Let’s assemble our Trifecta Part Wheel keys from the table above. As of writing, Fierceness is the odds on favorite, though I’m biased towards Catching Freedom as more likely winner, particularly from a value perspective. Catching Freedom will go in all 3 keys, along with four other contenders.

Key 1

Catching Freedom appears to be peaking just at the right time. His commanding win at the 2024 G2 Louisiana Derby on March 23, 2024, came with a 95 finishing speed rating, with a final time of 1:56.16. Though his outing at the G2 Risen Star Stakes on February 17, 2024 was less successful finishing in third place, Catching Freedom’s victory at the January 1, 2024, LS Smarty Jones Stakes shouldn’t be disregarded.

If Catching Freedom can bring his finishing speed to the Derby this Saturday, he’ll be tough to beat. Even though heavy favorite Fierceness has clocked higher finishing speed numbers (up to 107), he’s been inconsistent at best, having won only one of two graded stakes races so far in 2024, taking the G1 Florida Derby in March 30, 2024 at Gulfstream Park in 1:48.22.

Finally, Forever Young rounds out the first key picks. He’ll be traveling across the Pacific from Japan for the Kentucky Derby, having also racing at Meydan in the United Arab Emirates. Forever Young is undefeated in all his recent stakes races, including the UAE Derby, the Saudi Derby, and the Zen-Nippon Nisai Yushun (LS) at Kawasaki Race Course.

Fierceness and Forever Young join Catching Freedom in the 3-horse first key.

Key 2

Put Catching Freedom and Fierceness in the second key. Add Sierra Leone as key 2’s third horse. Sierra Leone has a pair of notable recent graded stakes races, including the April 6, 2024, G1 Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland, and the G2 Risen Star Stakes over Track Phantom and Catching Freedom at Fairgrounds on February 17, 2024.

Key 3

Finally, the third key. Reuse Catching Freedom, Forever Young and Sierra Leone. Our fifth horse is Stronghold, who enters the Derby with recent wins at the Santa Anita Derby on April 6, 2024, and the G3 Sunland Park Derby on February 18, 2024. Though Stronghold doesn’t have the same top-end finishing speed as other contenders, he’s been remarkably consistent ranging 88-93 (most commonly 90) and finishing no worse than second in all his races since August 27, 2023.

MSW Abbreviation: MSW means “Maiden Special Weight”. It’s an event reserved for horses who have never won a race.

Kentucky Derby Trifecta Part Wheel Keys

  • 1: Catching Freedom, Fierceness, Forever Young
  • 2: Catching Freedom, Fierceness, Sierra Leone
  • 3: Catching Freedom, Forever Young, Sierra Leone, Stronghold

Total Cost: $18, $1 per combination

How to Place a Kentucky Derby Trifecta Wheel Bet?
Visit our recommended online race books below. Wait until the field is set and each horse is assigned a starting position. Fill out your Trifecta Wheel ticket with each horse’s corresponding number. Then sit back and get rich!

Bet On the Derby Now


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Good luck from Ron Halfback!

5 Horse Trifecta Part Wheel

Here’s how to reuse this 5 horse trifecta part wheel bet for any other race. Remember, you need to put certain horses in each trifecta key, reusing some horses in multiple keys. That gives you some room for error without paying the exorbitant cost of a more cumbersome trifecta box bet.

Each letter represents a different horse. Horses A, B, C, and D appear in multiple keys while Horse E only appears in Key 3.

  • 1: A, B, C
  • 2: A, B, D
  • 3: A, C, D, E

Total Cost: $18, $1 per combination

Kentucky Derby Trifecta FAQs

What is a trifecta part wheel bet?

Select one or more horses for the first, second and third trifecta keys. Your bet wins if a horse from each of your keys finishes in the respective finishing position: a horse from key 1 wins, a horse from key 2 finishes second, a horse from key 3 finishes third.

Why is a trifecta part wheel more efficient than a trifecta box bet of equal number of horses?

A trifecta part wheel is more efficient than a trifecta box bet of equal number of horses because it is more efficient. You’re not paying for every possible winning combination. Instead, you’re only paying for a set of the most likely outcomes.

How much does a Kentucky Derby Trifecta bet cost?

Kentucky Derby Trifecta bets cost $1 each. Trifecta part wheel bets cost $1 per winning combination, determined by the number of horses you add to each key.

Kentucky Derby Resources

  • Kentucky Derby Betting Odds – Odds to win this year’s Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks. Learn how to bet on the Kentucky Derby.
  • Kentucky Derby Trifecta Picks – See our trifecta picks for this year’s Kentucky Derby, with prerace commentary and updates before the Derby.
  • Kentucky Derby Betting Sites – Best legal online horse betting sites that accept Kentucky Derby wagers, plus last minute race picks.
  • How to bet on Horses – We’ve made horse racing betting easy, giving you a basic rundown of the win, place, show, and win-place-show bet. You’ll also learn how place a trifecta, superfecta, exacta, or quinella bet.
  • Horse Betting Sites – We’ve reviewed the finest legal US horse racing betting sites, offering our own insights and guidance on where to place a bet. Don’t forget to claim your bonus code.
  • Horse Racing Betting Tracks – Complete list of today’s thoroughbred horse races and harness races from major United States tracks and raceways, plus a select list of Canadian and Latin American tracks.