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Kentucky Derby 2021 Betting Picks
Here are the free picks and expert handicapping advice you need to bet on the 2021 Kentucky Derby!
Up to 20 of the best three-year-old horses in the United States will Run for the Roses on Saturday, May 1, 2021. The purse is $3 million, the distance is 1 1/4 miles on dirt, and the winner’s name will live forever in horse racing’s memory. The favorite is Essential Quality, but is he the best bet? Keep reading for free expert Kentucky Derby picks.
|Rock Your World||+450||+500||+575|
|Hot Rod Charlie||+800||+1000||+900|
Only 20,000 to 30,000 fans will be allowed to go to the Kentucky Derby this year. If you can’t get a ticket or you can’t travel to Kentucky, you can still bet the 2021 Kentucky Derby online if you choose the best online sportsbook.
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Kentucky Derby Predictions for 2021
Since the advent of the points system in 2013, the first horse to cross the wire in the Kentucky Derby has been one of the more expected horses. Even though 65-1 shot Country House was placed first in 2019, he won by disqualification. The first horse across the wire was Maximum Security, the second choice at the betting windows.
2020 winner Authentic was another formful winner: not the first betting favorite, like the winners from 2013 through 2018, but still a logical contender: he was the bettors’ third choice, and he won a Grade 1 in his last start before the Derby.
This year Essential Quality will be the betting favorite; the two-year-old champion remains undefeated and comes into the Derby out of a victory in the Blue Grass Stakes (G2). However, he came close to being defeated in the Blue Grass, and his trainer has never run a Kentucky Derby horse before. This looks like an interesting year for an upset.
Kentucky Derby Horses
This is the official field for the 2021 Kentucky Derby with post positions, jockeys and trainers:
- Known Agenda: Todd Pletcher/Irad Ortiz, Jr.
- Like the King: Wesley Ward/Drayden Van Dyke
- Brooklyn Strong: Daniel Velazquez/Umberto Rispoli
- Keepmeinmind: Robertino Diodoro/David Cohen
- Sainthood: Todd Pletcher/Jockey TBA
- O Besos: Greg Foley/Marcelino Pedroza
- Mandaloun: Brad Cox/Florent Geroux
- Medina Spirit: Bob Baffert/John Velazquez
- Hot Rod Charlie: Doug O’Neill/Flavien Prat
- Midnight Bourbon: Steve Asmussen/Mike Smith
- Dynamic One: Todd Pletcher/Jose Ortiz
- Helium: Mark Casse/Julien Leparoux
- Hidden Stash: Vicki Oliver/Rafael Bejarano
- Essential Quality: Brad Cox/Luis Saez
- Rock Your World: John Sadler/Joel Rosario
- King Fury: Ken McPeek/Brian Hernandez
- Highly Motivated: Chad Brown/Javier Castellano
- Super Stock: Steve Asmussen/Ricardo Santana, Jr.
- Soup and Sandwich: Mark Casse/Tyler Gaffalione
- Bourbonic: Todd Pletcher/Kendrick Carmouche
No horses entered on an also-eligible list, so if any horses scratch the week of the race, the Kentucky Derby will be run with fewer than 20 horses.
Kentucky Derby Analysis
The top horse for the 2021 Kentucky Derby is Known Agenda.
Known Agenda won the Florida Derby (G1) in his most recent start. Kentucky Derby winners usually won their last start, and the Florida Derby winner usually runs well in Kentucky. He can pass horses while not having to drop too far off the pace, and being by Curlin with some strong European stamina underneath, he should run well at 1 1/4 miles.
Essential Quality may have questions around his new-to-the-Derby trainer and his close call at Keeneland, but he does have a victory at Churchill and he has passed every test so far. He also is by Tapit, a top stallion who has no Kentucky Derby winner yet but has three winners of the even longer Belmont Stakes.
Rock Your World is getting a lot of betting attention, but he will be one of many speed horses in this field and may not get the best trip. Super Stock won the Arkansas Derby, but that race didn’t draw as good a field as usual.
Hot Rod Charlie is the best of the other shorter-priced horses, but even he comes out of the Louisiana Derby, whose winners rarely repeat in Kentucky, making him less exciting at a short price.
Beyond Known Agenda and Essential Quality, it makes sense to look to the longshots to fill out your Kentucky Derby bets.
King Fury won the Lexington Stakes and steps up to the big time for the Kentucky Derby. His trainer Ken McPeek usually does better second off a layoff than first off, suggesting that he can move forward off of an already good outing in the Lexington. He will have a lot of pace to close into, and he is already a stakes winner at Churchill.
Helium is undefeated, three-for-three. He showed grit when he won the Tampa Bay Derby, and he has shown enough different running styles in his three starts so far to suggest that he will be able to make his own good trip in the Kentucky Derby. Though it is hard to win the Kentucky Derby with just three starts, he is a good price horse for exotics.
Other longshots to consider for exotic wagers include Dynamic One and Midnight Bourbon. Dynamic One is bred well for the step up in trip and can get a good trip rallying into the speed without being too far back. Though Midnight Bourbon has speed, he is consistent and gritty enough to keep going even when it’s tough upfront, and can hang on for a piece.
Kentucky Derby Top Picks
Make your selections with our free Kentucky Derby handicapping:
- $20 Win: Known Agenda
- $10 Show: King Fury, Helium
- $1 Superfecta Box: Known Agenda, Essential Quality, King Fury, Helium, Dynamic One, Midnight Bourbon
- $5 Trifecta Key: Known Agenda with Essential Quality, King Fury, Helium
- $1 Trifecta Box: Known Agenda, King Fury, Helium, Dynamic One, Midnight Bourbon
Kentucky Derby Exacta Picks
- $5 Exacta Box: Known Agenda, Essential Quality
- $5 Exacta Key: Known Agenda over King Fury, Helium, Midnight Bourbon, Dynamic One
Kentucky Derby Undercard Picks
The Kentucky Derby isn’t all there is on Saturday’s card. The undercard features six other rich stakes races that drew some of the best horses in the country. Make sure to use these horses when you are playing the Kentucky Derby undercard, including an all-stakes Pick 6 that runs from the Derby City Distaff through the Kentucky Derby.
- $500,000 Churchill Distaff Turf Mile (G2): Zofelle, She’s Got You
- $500,000 Derby City Distaff (G1): Gamine
- $500,000 Pat Day Mile (G2): Whiskey Double, Jackie’s Warrior, Defunded
- $500,000 American Turf (G2): Scarlett Sky, Annex
- $500,000 Churchill Downs Stakes (G1): Flagstaff, Hog Creek Hustle, Basin
- $1 million Old Bourbon Forester Turf Classic (G1): Smooth Like Strait, Colonel Liam
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