2021 Kentucky Derby: Early Betting Profiles & Analysis

2021 Kentucky Derby: Early Betting Profiles & Analysis

SI Gambling insider offers early betting profiles for contenders & longshots for the 147th running of the Kentucky Derby

The “Fastest Two Minutes in Sports” is set for next Saturday and the Kentucky Derby – which often draws a crowd gathering of more than 150,000 people – will be run with limited fan capacity.

At this time, we are working under the assumption that we will need to limit the number of reserved seats to 40-50% of capacity. If the circumstances surrounding the spread of COVID-19 improve, then we will sell more reserved seats and consider selling general admission tickets.,” according to the latest press release on KentuckyDerby.com.

Amid concerns about the COVID-19 pandemic, Churchill Downs decided to postpone last year’s running from its original scheduled date of the first Saturday in May to September. In fact, the entire running of the 2020 Triple Crown sequence was thrown out of order due to the pandemic. The Kentucky Derby, normally the first leg, was run second behind the Belmont Stakes which took place in June.

NBC will televise live coverage of the 147th running of the Kentucky Derby on May 1. The Kentucky Oaks will be televised one day prior, Friday, April 30 on NBC Sports Network.

Last week we learned that Bob Baffert’s highly-touted three-year-old, Concert Tour, who disappointed in the Arkansas Derby, will not race in the Derby and will instead be pointed for the Preakness Stakes on May 15.

Let’s take an early look at the potential hopefuls bettors could be treated to as we await the official post position draw and assigned morning-line odds next Tuesday for the illustrious race.

2021 KENTUCKY DERBY EARLY BETTING PROFILES

TOP CONTENDERS

Essential Quality

JOCKEY: Luis Saez 

TRAINER: Brad Cox

RECORD: 5 starts: 5-0-0

TOP EQUIBASE SPEED FIGURE: 109

RUNNING STYLE: Pace Presser (Prefers to press the pace)

As long as Essential Quality does not draw the dreaded rail next Tuesday you’re probably looking at the likely morning-line favorite for the 2021 Kentucky Derby. This son of Tapit, who won the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile as a two-year old, enters the field off wins in the Southwest Stakes and Blue Grass Stakes. Brad Cox will have a strong chance to earn his first Kentucky Derby win with a horse who is undefeated in five career races.

Rock Your World

JOCKEY: Joel Rosario 

TRAINER: John Sadler

RECORD: 3 starts: 3-0-0

TOP EQUIBASE SPEED FIGURE: 103

RUNNING STYLE: Pace Presser 

John Sadler has done a great job with this colt evidenced by his impressive win in the Santa Anita Derby. His 4 ¼ victory in the Grade 1 affair followed up two wins earlier this year at Santa Anita. This son of Candy Ride, with a clean trip, could very well take the field wire-to-wire like he did in the Santa Anita Derby. 

Highly Motivated

JOCKEY: Javier Castellano 

TRAINER: Chad Brown

RECORD: 5 starts: 2-2-1

TOP EQUIBASE SPEED FIGURE: 108

RUNNING STYLE: Pace Presser

Chad Brown’s entry, by Into Mischief, was last seen losing by ‘a neck’ to undefeated Essential Quality in the Blue Grass Stakes. Highly Motivated peaks my interest as a value play who could pull off the upset with a clean trip. If jockey Javier Castellano can tuck him into a comfortable stalking spot, Highly Motivated (2-2-1) could easily make it six consecutive times successfully hitting the board.

Known Agenda

JOCKEY: Irad Ortiz Jr. 

TRAINER: Todd Pletcher

RECORD: 6 starts: 3-1-1

TOP EQUIBASE SPEED FIGURE: 112

RUNNING STYLE: Closer

The top connections of jockey Irad Ortiz Jr and trainer Todd Pletcher easily makes this talented colt a ‘must use’ in the Kentucky Derby. After adding blinkers, this son of Curlin, has responded with two impressive wins capped off by his victory in the Florida Derby back on March 27. Known Agenda actually holds the best speed figure of any Kentucky Derby hopeful and he is easily a horse you will need to use on all exotic tickets as we know Pletcher has found previous Derby success with Super Saver (2010) and Always Dreaming (2017).

Hot Rod Charlie

JOCKEY: Flavien Prat 

TRAINER: Doug O’Neill

RECORD: 7 starts: 2-1-2

TOP EQUIBASE SPEED FIGURE: 100

RUNNING STYLE: Pace Presser

Trainer Doug O’Neill, who won the Kentucky Derby with I’ll Have Another (2012) and Nyquist (2016), is back in 2021 with Hot Rod Charlie. The son of Oxbow was last seen winning the Louisiana Derby on March 20. Although he shocked many people when he finished second to Essential Quality in the Breeders Cup Juvenile at odds of 94/1, I do not envision him pulling off the upset in the Kentucky Derby. Hot Rod Charlie has only found the winners circle twice in seven career starts and my early lean is he could struggle to hit the board next Saturday.

UNDERLAY POTENTIAL

Mandaloun

JOCKEY: Florent Geroux 

TRAINER: Brad Cox

RECORD: 5 starts: 3-0-1

TOP EQUIBASE SPEED FIGURE: 97

RUNNING STYLE: Stalker

Easily the biggest ‘forgotten’ horse in the potential Kentucky Derby field is one of Brad Cox’s three entrants – Mandaloun. The son of Into Mischief, has been inconsistent as a three-year old this year, with a win in the Risen Star sandwiched in between a disappointing sixth-place finish in the Louisiana Derby and third-place effort in the Lecomte Stakes. He has been training superbly in his morning workouts and at potential double-digit odds Mandaloun is a value underlay if he can run back to his potential.

TOP LONGSHOTS

Helium

JOCKEY: Julien Leparoux 

TRAINER: Mark Casse

RECORD: 3 starts: 3-0-0

TOP EQUIBASE SPEED FIGURE: 94

RUNNING STYLE: Stalker

One expected ‘wise guy’ horse could very well be Mark Casse’s lightly raced Helium who won the Tampa Bay Derby back on March 6. At attractive longshot odds this son of Ironicus could really spice up exotic payouts if he could find a way to hit the board.

King Fury

JOCKEY: Brian Hernandez Jr. 

TRAINER: Ken McPeek

RECORD: 6 starts: 3-0-0

TOP EQUIBASE SPEED FIGURE: 103

RUNNING STYLE: Closer

As we know the Kentucky Derby is limited to only 20 entrants and this year one of the horses on the outside looking in as of n is Ken McPeek’s King Fury. The son of Curlin looked impressive in his win in the Lexington Stakes and he also has recorded two of his three career victories over the Churchill Downs surface. If he can find a way into the race, King Fury is easily my favorite bomb longshot to use on all exotic tickets. We will have to wait and see if there are any deflections by the horses above him in the points standings.

Midnight Bourbon

JOCKEY: Mike Smith / TRAINER: Steve Asmussen

RECORD: 7 starts: 2-2-3

TOP EQUIBASE SPEED FIGURE: 99

RUNNING STYLE: Pace Presser

This son of Tiznow looked great in his win in the Lecomte Stakes and is as consistent as they come hitting the board in all seven of his career races. Trainer Steve Asmussen adds Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith in the irons for the Kentucky Derby. Smith, as we know, has found the winners circle twice in his career in the Kentucky Derby. This colt seems to always be up to the task and is a horse that bettors should include on any trifecta or superfecta tickets.

Medina Spirit

JOCKEY: John Velazquez 

TRAINER: Bob Baffert

RECORD: 5 starts: 2-3-0

TOP EQUIBASE SPEED FIGURE: 109

RUNNING STYLE: Stalker

With Concert Tour and Life is Good out of the Derby, bettors are now left with Medina Spirit as Bob Baffert’s lone shot at another Kentucky Derby win. Baffert, who has six career wins in the Run for the Roses, has won three of the last five Derby’s with American Pharaoh in 2015, Justify in 2018 and Authentic last year. This son of Prontico will likely be gunned to the lead by John Velazquez who will look to be among the top flight from the opening gate. Using underneath is an essential play depending on how he draws into the race on Tuesday.

Super Stock

JOCKEY: Ricardo Santana Jr. 

TRAINER: Steve Asmussen

RECORD: 8 starts: 2-2-2

TOP EQUIBASE SPEED FIGURE: 106

RUNNING STYLE: Closer

This horse shocked many horse players when he roared past Caddo River and Concert Tour in the Arkansas Derby back on April 10 at odds of 12/1. The son of Dialed In has improved in each of his last three races and according to my formula his recent form tells us he projects as one of the top closers in the race who could pick off tired runners deep in the lane – potentially hitting the board at healthy odds.

Soup and Sandwich

JOCKEY: Tyler Gaffalione 

TRAINER: Mark Casse

RECORD: 3 starts: 2-1-0

TOP EQUIBASE SPEED FIGURE: 108

RUNNING STYLE: Pace Presser

He joins Helium for trainer Mark Casse as a longshot entrant who only has one stakes race in his career – finishing runner-up to Known Agenda in the Florida Derby on March 27. His morning works at Churchill Downs leading up to the Derby have been quite impressive. I am intrigued to see how Soup and Sandwich draws into the field on Tuesday because he could offer tremendous value at attractive odds if he is able to put it all together on Derby Day.

Be sure to check back on Derby Week here at SI Gambling as we will have our picks for the Kentucky Derby!


Over the course of 2020 and into 2021, our Senior Gambling Analyst and Vegas Insider- Frankie Taddeo – has shared his horse racing handicapping formula which has correctly predicted the following winners at SI Gambling:

Travers Stakes – Exacta (8/1), Trifecta (36/1)

Blue Grass Stakes – Exacta (12/1), Trifecta (60/1) and Superfecta (443/1)

Frizette Stakes – Exacta Cold

Desi Arnaz Stakes – Exacta (31/1)

Ontario Derby – Trifecta (72/1)

Tropical Turf Stakes – Trifecta (37/1) – 2021*

Rebel Stakes – Concert Tour – Winner

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