After being postponed until Labour Day in 2020, 2021’s 147th running of the Kentucky Derby will take place at Churchill Downs on the the first Saturday in May, returning to its traditional time slot. The 2021 Kentucky Derby is shaping up to be one of the most evenly fields in years, as 20 horses prepare for the 1 and a 1/4 mile long race worth $3 millions.
Take a look at our Best Bets and Best Longshots for the 2021 Kentucky Derby.
Best Bet To Win The 2021 Kentucky Derby
#14 Essential Quality (+200)
Trained by Louisville native Brad Cox, the undefeated three year old Essential Quality will enter Saturday’s race as the favorite to win the 2021 Kentucky Derby. The Colt made a name for himself at Churchill Downs last year, taking out his maiden race by four lengths. Since then, Essential Quality has remained undefeated, winning his next four races for a perfect 5-0 record.
Ridden by Luis Shez, Essential Quality has picked up a pair of Grade 1 victories in his short career, including a victory at the Breeders Cup Juvenile in November of last year, where he won by three quarters of a length.
— Kentucky Derby (@KentuckyDerby) April 29, 2021
As good a horse as Essential Quality, he certainly still has flaws. The three year old does have a tendency to face the front of his left foot inwards (essentially the horse equivalent of being pigeon-toed), which can often cause the leg to swing outward during strife. This abnormality hasn’t bothered Essential Quality throughout his short career, however having never competitively ran further than 1 1/8 miles, this could impact the favorite down the straight.
However with a 5-0 career record, including a victory at Churchill Downs last year, Essential Quality is hard to knock on paper, and is our pick to win the 2021 instalment of the Kentucky Derby.
In the mix: #9 Hot Rod Charlie (+800)
Best Longshot To Win The 2021 Kentucky Derby
#17 Highly Motivated (+1000)
In terms of horses that have a chance of matching it with the short priced favorites, there may be none better than Highly Motivated.
Highly Motivated has never finished worse than third place in his five race career, currently boasting a 2-2-1 record. However, Trainer Chad Brown knows that Essential Quality is the horse to beat Saturday.
Highly Motivated finished second in the Blue Grass Stakes earlier this month, going down to Essential Quality by a neck, which sets up an enticing duel at Churchill Downs this weekend. However, one of the reasons that we like Highly Motivated for the Kentucky Derby is his ability to run the distance.
Highly Motivated is highly photogenic😍 pic.twitter.com/bBQ1J3x2Yx
— Kentucky Derby (@KentuckyDerby) April 25, 2021
Finishing the final three-eighths of a mile in 34.45 seconds at the Blue Grass Stakes, Highly Motivated looked as if he could’ve and would’ve surpassed Essential Quality if the distance allowed him too. This pace down the stretch bodes well for Highly Motivated on the weekend, as 23 of 31 the Kentucky Derby winners since 1990 have run the last three-eighths of a mile of their final Derby prep race in 38 seconds or less.
If he can get a good break from the 17th barrier, Highly Motivated certainly has the pace to win the 2021 Kentucky Derby on Saturday.
In the mix: #7 Mandaloun (+1500)
2021 Kentucky Derby Field:
#1 Known Agenda
#2 Like the King
#3 Brooklyn Strong
#6 O Besos
#8 Medina Spirit
#9 Hot Rod Charlie
#10 Midnight Bourbon
#11 Dynamic One
#13 Hidden Stash
#14 Essential Quality
#15 Rock Your World
#16 King Fury
#17 Highly Motivated
#18 Super Stock
#19 Soup and Sandwich
*Odds correct at time of publication, courtesy of FanDuel.
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Image By: Kybluegrass