2021 Kentucky Derby Betting Preview

2021 Kentucky Derby Betting Preview

After last year’s Labor Day version of the Kentucky Derby, the Run for the Roses returns to its normal home in May. Essential Quality is the 2-to-1 morning line favorite. Trained by Brad Cox and ridden by Luis Saez, Essential Quality is 5-for-5 in his career, with his first victory coming on that September Kentucky Derby undercard last year. Fate? Karma? We shall see. Let’s meet the rest of the 2021 Kentucky Derby field…

PostHorseMorning Line
1Known Agenda6/1
2Like the King50/1
3Brooklyn Strong50/1
4Keepmeinmind50/1
5Sainthood50/1
6O Besos20/1
7Mandaloun15/1
8Medina Spirit15/1
9Hot Rod Charlie8/1
10Midnight Bourbon20/1
11Dynamic One20/1
12Helium50/1
13Hidden Stash50/1
14Essential Quality2/1
15Rock Your World5/1
16King Fury20/1
17Highly Motivated10/1
18Super Stock30/1
19Soup and Sandwich30/1
20Bourbonic30/1

Pony Pundits

Tune in every Friday at 4:00 p.m. ET as Marco D’Angelo and SIG break down the upcoming weekend in horse racing. Each handicapper offers their best bets for the biggest races on the card.

Meet the Kentucky Derby Field

**Letter behind Morning Line is Marco’s Personal Grade for each Horse

1) Known Agenda (Jockey: Irad Ortiz Jr. / 6-1 ML) (B)
Two-for-two running with blinkers on. He ran the perfect ground-saving trip in the Florida Derby, then swung wide at the top of the stretch. Unfortunately, he drew the dreaded No. 1 post position. Use in exotics underneath.

2) Like the King (Jockey: Drayden Van Dyke / 50-1 ML) (D)
Solid in his two 3-year-old starts, but hasn’t faced the big boys of this class. Like the King does not have the Beyer Speed Figures to get the job done in this race. Pitch.

3) Brooklyn Strong (Jockey: Umberto Rispoli / 50-1 ML) (D)
No factor in the Wood Memorial at Aqueduct, but needed that start as it was his first start in four months. He had a 94 Beyer in his last start in 2020, which if he races back to that, might hit bottom of superfecta. Solid jockey pickup with Rispoli, who lost mount on Rock Your World.

4) Keepmeinmind (Jockey: David Cohen / 50-1 ML) (D)
No factor in either 2021 start. Trainer Robert Diodoro hasn’t had success on the big stage. Speed figures say he is over his head and running style has him as a stone closer, which doesn’t bode well in a 20-horse field. Look elsewhere.

5) Sainthood (Jockey: Corey Lanerie / 50-1 ML) (B)
This one has only had three career starts but has been solid in all three. Only one was a stakes race and it was a Grade 3 where he lost to Like the King. Sainthood was taken off his feet just when he was starting his move and he swung wide after having to be checked hard reengaged and rallied on to be second. An Objection was filed but the winner was left up. We now get a jockey change to Corey Lanerie who knows this track well and will get Sainthood a good trip. Horse has license to make a big jump here with only three lifetime starts. Young horses usually don’t reengage after being bumped like that. Sainthood is a live longshot that is training well.

6) O Besos (Jockey: Marcelino Pedroza / 20-1 ML) (C)
Five career starts and has improved his Beyer figure in each. His last speed figure says he can go with these horses. His running style will have him mid-pack and closing. Use on the bottom side of exotics.

7) Mandaloun (Jockey: Florent Geroux / 15-1 ML) (B)
Comes out of the Fairgrounds races, which might of been the most competitive as we had three different winners in the three prep races. He raced poorly in last race, but had three wins in his other five races. His last race concerns, me but other races are too strong to pitch. Will use underneath.

8) Medina Spirit (Jockey: John Velazquez / 15-1 ML) (C)
One of the most consistent with speed figures, posting four-straight 90+ Beyers. He hasn’t missed the exacta in five career starts. He is hard to overlook, as this horse was originally sold for $1,000 then resold for $35,000 as two-year-old in training. Baffert kept him on the West Coast, where races seemed to be a notch below. He has never raced outside of California, and even his last training trip was run in California. I would of preferred a training trip over the Churchill track. Use at the bottom of your exotics.

9) Hot Rod Charlie (Jockey: Flavien Prat / 8-1 ML) (A)
Picks up Flavien Prat as Rosario is on Rock Your World, which tells you who Rosario likes better and he has only ridden Rock Your World once in his Maiden debut. Hot Rod Charlie is game fighter who has bettered his Beyer in all seven starts. He has the perfect running style as he will be just off the pace and will have first run at the leaders turning for home. He has tactical speed to get position out of favorable post 9. Legit Contender.

10) Midnight Bourbon (Jockey: Mike Smith / 20-1 ML) (B)
Big jockey switch to Mike Smith from Joe Talamo. He has raced solidly in all three Derby preps and improved Beyers in all three including back-to-back 96 figures. His running style will have him right at or on the lead. He is 7-for-7 hitting the board, but only two wins. Will use in all exotics.

11) Dynamic One (Jockey: Jose Ortiz / 20-1 ML) (B)
Was wide going into the first turn and was bumped in his last race, but showed a lot of grit for a young horse not to let it bother him. Powered to the lead at the top of the stretch, putting away all the horses in front of him and looked clear for the win but his stable mate Bourbonic came from dead last last to nip him at wire. Honestly, I think Jose Ortiz didn’t see him till it was too late. He has improved in each start, but needs another big step forward speed wise to get there. Will use at the bottom end of exotics.

12) Helium (Jockey: Julian Leparoux / 50-1 ML) (D)
This one ran me over in the Tampa Bay Derby, which was a race that turned out to be pretty soft. He picks up Julian Leparoux, which is a major improvement and is 3-for-3, but who has he beat? Has yet to top 84 in Beyers. If he gets there, he will run me over again.

13) Hidden Stash (Jockey: Rafael Bejarano / 50-1 ML) (D)
One of the best closers in the field, but has no gate speed. And in a 20-horse field, he will need everything to go right. His speed figures put this one in bottom group of this field.

14) Essential Quality (Jockey: Luis Saez / 2-1 ML) (A)
Undefeated 5-for-5 and danced all the big dances, winning the Breeders Cup Juvenile at 2-years-old, then winning both starts this year. He has to overcome the Breeders Cup jinx, but got plenty of time to rest as trainer Brad Cox didn’t make first start till end of February (partly due to weather set backs at Oaklawn), He was all-out to win the Bluegrass to remain undefeated, which is good, but did that effort take too much out of him? His Beyers are heading up in every start, including 95, 96 and 97 in his last start. He will be sitting in a stalking position and should have a clear run at them turning for home. Should be part of the exacta.

15) Rock Your World (Jockey: Joel Rosario / 5-1 ML) (A)
This horse reminds me a lot of Justify as he’s a late bloomer that didn’t make his first start until January. Justify is the only horse to win the Kentucky Derby without racing as a 2-year-old. Even though Umberto Rispoli rode him perfectly, John Sadler made the decision to switch to Joel Rosario who is one of the hottest jockeys in the country. He put up a 100 Beyer last time out in just his third start of his career, and if he doesn’t bounce off that huge effort, he is sitting on a monster race. Based on his workouts, this horse is just getting better and he’s doing it at the right time. They put this $650,000 yearling on the grass for his first two starts, but he is bred for dirt and it showed in the Santa Anita Derby as he just kept going faster throughout the race. He has speed off the gate and has the advantage of being on the outside of Essential Quality. Should be part of the exacta with Essential Quality.

16) King Fury (Jockey: Brian Hernandez Jr. / 20-1 ML) (C)
He has three wins in six starts, but didn’t hit the board in those other three starts. He was beaten badly in both of his Grade 1 starts. He looked impressive in Lexington, but the field wasn’t that strong although the 96 Beyer puts him in the mix. His running style has him coming from behind and will be at the mercy of the pace and staying clear of traffic troubles. With only one start this year, he has every opportunity to take a giant leap forward on Saturday. He did chase a fast pace in Lexington which benefits closers, but will need honest pace in first half of this race. Use on the bottom end of exotics.

17) Highly Motivated (Jockey: Javier Castellano / 10-1 ML) (B)
Final start of 2020 was a dominating win in the NyQuist on the Breeders Cup undercard. It was a race in which he put up a 96 Beyer. His first two starts of 2021 featured a third-place finish, then a hard-fought 2nd against Essential Quality where he posted a 97 Beyer. With only two starts this year, he is primed for another big jump and he is training well. This will be his third start off the layoff, which is always the best in the form cycle. Chad Brown is one of the top trainers that has won just about everything except for a Kentucky Derby. This one may be his best chance. Legit Contender.

18) Super Stock (Jockey: Ricardo Santana Jr. / 30-1 ML) (D)
Nice back story with this horse being a family affair, but the reality is he got a perfect ground-saving trip and then was able to angle to the outside off the turn to get up for the win. His running style says he will have to zig and zag his way thru traffic which is much harder in a 20 horse field. Speed figures say he isn’t fast enough. It took three tries to break his maiden.

19) Soup and Sandwich (Jockey: Tyler Gaffalione / 30-1 ML) (C)
Has gate speed to break well from the outside and sit just off the lead or on the lead. This is his third start off the layoff, so should improve off last race and with only three career starts could make another major jump. He has looked good in his morning works. Can be used underneath in the exotics.

20) Bourbonic (Jockey: Kendrick Carmouche / 30-1 ML) (D)
This one is a closer and given he has post 20, not only is he going to have to come from behind, but he probably will get caught wide in first turn. Pletcher had him in optional claimer prior to his Wood Memorial win, so Pletcher obviously wasn’t high on this colt and neither am I. Good news is he has had four-straight improved Beyers, but the bad news is he has the lowest average speed figures in the race.

How to Bet on the Kentucky Derby

The handicapping team at WagerTalk wants to get you up-to-speed on everything you need to know if you’re looking to place some bets on the 2021 Kentucky Derby. Our Horse Racing 101 guide will take you through betting terminology, explaining the odds, and clarifying payouts.

Wagering on horse racing is done through parimutuel betting. Whereas sports betting is essentially the sports book vs. the bettor, parimutuel wagering pits bettors against one another. Money for each wagering type (i.e. win bets, exacta bets, etc.) get placed into individual pools. The track takes out their administrative fees, and the remaining pool gets returned to winning bettors.

Horse racing odds are fluid leading up to the race because they are dictated by the amount of money in the pools. Prior to every race day, a track official will release the morning lines. Those morning lines are a projection of where the odds for each horse will finish when the race goes off, and do not have any direct impact on potential payouts. Using those morning lines as a starting point, as more money comes in on certain horses, their odds will go down. Horses that aren’t attracting a lot of money in the win pool will have their odds go up. Those odds will remain fluid all the way up until the moment the gates open and the race begins.

Take a spin through our Horse Racing 101 guide, which explains everything from superfectas to daily doubles.