Twenty of the best three-year-old dirt horses in the world will do battle in the 2021 Kentucky Derby on May 1, 2021. It’s time to make your Kentucky Derby picks and place your bets!
Even though only 20,000 to 30,000 people will be allowed into Churchill Downs for the big race, you can still join in the fun. Bet the Kentucky Derby online with your favorite sportsbook! These recommended sportsbooks all have great bonuses and guarantees, so find the one that is best for you and place your bets with confidence.
Kentucky Derby Contenders
The Kentucky Derby is the best betting race of the year, with 20 horses lining up to try a mile and a quarter for the first time. The first step to picking a winner is getting to know the contenders.
The expected field for the 2021 Kentucky Derby with jockeys and trainers, in order of preference, is:
- Essential Quality: Brad Cox/Luis Saez
- Hot Rod Charlie: Doug O’Neill/Flavien Prat
- Super Stock: Steve Asmussen/Ricardo Santana, Jr.
- Like the King: Wesley Ward/Drayden Van Dyke
- Known Agenda: Todd Pletcher/Irad Ortiz, Jr.
- Rock Your World: John Sadler/Joel Rosario
- Bourbonic: Todd Pletcher/Kendrick Carmouche
- Medina Spirit: Bob Baffert/John Velazquez
- Midnight Bourbon: Steve Asmussen/Mike Smith
- Mandaloun: Brad Cox/Florent Geroux
- Highly Motivated: Chad Brown/Javier Castellano
- Helium: Mark Casse/Julien Leparoux
- Soup and Sandwich: Mark Casse/Tyler Gaffalione
- Dynamic One: Todd Pletcher/Jose Ortiz
- Sainthood: Todd Pletcher/Jockey TBA
- Hidden Stash: Vicki Oliver/Rafael Bejarano
- O Besos: Greg Foley/Marcelino Pedroza
- Get Her Number: Peter Miller/Jockey TBA
- King Fury: Ken McPeek/Brian Hernandez
- Keepmeinmind: Robertino Diodoro/David Cohen
The final field will be drawn on Tuesday, April 27, 2021. On that date, you will know post positions and official United States morning lines.
These are the odds for the top Kentucky Derby contenders at the top sportsbooks:
Free Kentucky Derby Expert Picks
The favorite for the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs is Essential Quality. The undefeated champion has run very well in four Kentucky starts, including a very game win in the Blue Grass in his final Derby prep. He is also a maiden winner at Churchill. He is talented, consistent, and versatile enough to work out a trip. However, his trainer Brad Cox has yet to run a horse in the Kentucky Derby.
Known Agenda is the best bet for the Kentucky Derby. He is trained by Todd Pletcher, who has won two editions of the Kentucky Derby. Known Agenda has gotten very good in his last two starts, including a win in the Florida Derby, one of the best Derby preps every year. His pedigree is strong for the Derby distance, and he will get a lively pace to chase down.
The best way to play the Kentucky Derby is to build your bets around these two formful horses and some live longshots.
King Fury loves racing in Kentucky. He won the Street Sense Stakes at Churchill Downs last year. In his first race back at age three, he won the Lexington Stakes at Keeneland. He should be at peak fitness in the Kentucky Derby, second off the layoff for trainer Ken McPeek. The son of Curlin is bred well for 1 1/4 miles as well.
Although Helium has only raced three times, he is a live longshot. He has won all three races with three different running styles, so he has the versatility to handle a sometimes chaotic race like the Kentucky Derby. In the Tampa Bay Derby he proved he could handle dirt, and proved he could overcome a wide trip and dig in when challenged.
Other longshots to consider are Midnight Bourbon and Dynamic One. Midnight Bourbon is consistent, and even though he will be one of several speed horses, he is tactical and he will dig in when challenged. Dynamic One was caught late in the Wood, but the fact that he can get the jump on the true closers helps his case significantly in the Kentucky Derby.
Kentucky Derby Best Bets
The best bets for the 2021 Kentucky Derby are:
- $20 Win: Known Agenda
- $5 Win/Place/Show: King Fury, Helium
- $1 Kentucky Derby Exacta Key: Known Agenda with Essential Quality, King Fury, Helium
- $1 Kentucky Derby Trifecta Box: Known Agenda, Essential Quality, King Fury, Helium, Midnight Bourbon
- $1 Kentucky Derby Superfecta Box: Known Agenda, Essential Quality, King Fury, Helium, Midnight Bourbon, Dynamic One
Kentucky Oaks Contenders
The Kentucky Oaks is traditionally run the day before the Kentucky Derby, so the 2021 edition will be run on Friday, April 30. It is a 1 1/8 mile race for three-year-old fillies. Fourteen of the best will compete for a $1.25 million purse, an iconic blanket of lilies, and a place in horse racing history.
The horse to beat is Travel Column. She won the Fair Grounds Oaks, which is always a live Kentucky Oaks prep. She is versatile enough to work a trip in a big Oaks field, and bred well to get the distance. She is also trained by Brad Cox and ridden by Florent Geroux; this pair has won two of the last three Kentucky Oaks.
The next tier of contenders is Clairiere and Malathaat. Clairiere beat Travel Column two starts ago in the Rachel Alexandra. She is a winner at Churchill already and can get a good off-pace trip. Malathaat is still undefeated in four starts for three-time Oaks winner Todd Pletcher, though she has yet to race over the Churchill Downs surface.
Two longshots with a lot of appeal are Pauline’s Pearl and Coach. Pauline’s Pearl comes in from a win in the Fantasy Stakes, and she has shown the maturity to rally well through horses and get a good trip in the Oaks. Coach is already a winner at Churchill Downs, and she is ridden by Luis Saez, the hottest rider in Kentucky right now.
Kentucky Oaks Free Picks
- $50 Win: Travel Column
- $10 Win/Place/Show: Pauline’s Pearl, Coach
- $5 Kentucky Oaks Trifecta Key: Travel Column with Clairiere, Malathaat, Pauline’s Pearl, Coach
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