Kentucky Derby 2021

By Emily Lopez

The Kentucky Derby will be run for the 147th time on Saturday, May 1, 2021. It is the biggest horse race of the year: 20 of the best three-year-old horses in the United States will run 1 1/4 miles for a $3 million purse, the blanket of roses, and a place in horse racing history. With such a big field running for such a big purse, it is the best betting race of the year.

Here are the odds on the top contenders for the 2021 Kentucky Derby.

HorseBovadaBetOnlineIntertops
Essential Quality+315+275+250
Rock Your World+450+500+500
Known Agenda+700+700+750
Hot Rod Charlie+800+1000+800
Highly Motivated+1000+800+800
Medina Spirit+1400+1200+1000

Betting the Kentucky Derby Online

Although only 20,000 to 30,000 people will be allowed into Churchill Downs for the 2021 Kentucky Derby, you can still be a part of the action no matter where you are! The best online sportsbooks offer real Vegas odds, easy-to-use websites and mobile apps, and trusted online payments and cash-outs.

Top horse racing betting sites are also offering excellent bonuses and rebates for Kentucky Derby players. So, find out which sportsbooks offer the best bonuses for the bets you want to make, and get ready for the 2021 Kentucky Derby!

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Handicapping the 2021 Kentucky Derby

This is the official field for the 2021 Kentucky Derby, along with post positions, trainers, and jockeys for each horse:

  1. Known Agenda: Todd Pletcher/Irad Ortiz, Jr.
  2. Like the King: Wesley Ward/Drayden Van Dyke
  3. Brooklyn Strong: Daniel Velazquez/Umberto Rispoli
  4. Keepmeinmind: Robertino Diodoro/David Cohen
  5. Sainthood: Todd Pletcher/Jockey TBA
  6. O Besos: Greg Foley/Marcelino Pedroza
  7. Mandaloun: Brad Cox/Florent Geroux
  8. Medina Spirit: Bob Baffert/John Velazquez
  9. Hot Rod Charlie: Doug O’Neill/Flavien Prat
  10. Midnight Bourbon: Steve Asmussen/Mike Smith
  11. Dynamic One: Todd Pletcher/Jose Ortiz
  12. Helium: Mark Casse/Julien Leparoux
  13. Hidden Stash: Vicki Oliver/Rafael Bejarano
  14. Essential Quality: Brad Cox/Luis Saez
  15. Rock Your World: John Sadler/Joel Rosario
  16. King Fury: Ken McPeek/Brian Hernandez
  17. Highly Motivated: Chad Brown/Javier Castellano
  18. Super Stock: Steve Asmussen/Ricardo Santana, Jr.
  19. Soup and Sandwich: Mark Casse/Tyler Gaffalione
  20. Bourbonic: Todd Pletcher/Kendrick Carmouche

Nobody entered on the also-eligible list. So, if any horses scratch in the days leading up to the 2021 Kentucky Derby, it will be run with slightly fewer than 20 horses. No matter what, it will be the biggest field in American horse racing all year long, making it one of the best betting opportunities in American sports.

Kentucky Derby Handicapping Advice

First and foremost, Kentucky Derby winners win their final prep race. Since the points system began in 2013, every Kentucky Derby winner won their final prep except for Country House. Even then, Country House won by disqualification; the horse who crossed the wire first was Florida Derby winner Maximum Security.

Kentucky Derby winners also tend to come from a few major prep races. In recent years, the best prep races have included the Florida Derby, the Arkansas Derby, and the Santa Anita Derby. These are the preps that usually draw the best horses, meaning their winners have faced the toughest company and already proven they can run with the best.

Kentucky Derby winners are usually well-regarded by the betting public. Since the points system began in 2013, six of the eight winners have been betting favorites. 2020 winner Authentic was the third betting choice. Only 2019 winner Country House was a real longshot at 65-1, but he won by disqualification over the second choice.

Top Kentucky Derby Contenders

The favorite in the 2021 Kentucky Derby will be Essential Quality. He is undefeated in five starts, and has already won at Churchill Downs last year. He is versatile enough to work out different trips and still win, and he showed a lot of toughness when he won the Blue Grass. However, trainer Brad Cox has never started a Kentucky Derby horse before.

The best bet in the Kentucky Derby is Known Agenda. Bettors may shy away from him because he drew the rail, but he still has all the tools to be a Derby winner. He won the Florida Derby, one of the best preps. He has gotten very good in his last two starts, and is bred well for the 1 1/4-mile distance. And, his trainer Todd Pletcher has won two Kentucky Derbies already.

The best of the rest of the shorter-priced horses is Hot Rod Charlie. Watch the price, since Louisiana Derby horses rarely win the Kentucky Derby. However, he has run to his company every time since breaking his maiden, and trainer Doug O’Neill has won two editions of the Kentucky Derby already.

Live Kentucky Derby Longshots

King Fury is the most interesting longshot in the 2021 Kentucky Derby. He took an unorthodox path, winning the Lexington Stakes in his three-year-old debut. Trainer Ken McPeek’s runners get better second off a layoff, and the son of Curlin is bred very well to stretch out. King Fury is also already a stakes winner at Churchill Downs.

Helium is another longshot to use in your Kentucky Derby exotic bets. He has only raced three times, but won every start. He has won each of his races with a different running style, a versatility that should help him in an often-chaotic 20-horse Kentucky Derby. 

Midnight Bourbon should be forward in a race with plenty of speed, but he is a consistent and gritty horse who has proven he can keep on going for a share even when things are contested up front. He was the only horse to hit the board in every single Fair Grounds prep, and one of his better efforts could get him a place in the exotics.

Dynamic One just missed in the Wood Memorial, as he was caught at the wire by stablemate Bourbonic. But, in the Kentucky Derby, the fact that he should get the jump on the really deep closers will be a strong asset. Furthermore, he is bred extremely well for the stretch out to a mile and a quarter.

Kentucky Derby Best Bets

Once you have made your accounts on the top sportsbooks and taken a look at the contenders, here are the bets to make on the biggest race of the year.