The best betting race of the year, the 2021 Kentucky Derby, will be run at Churchill Downs on Saturday, May 1, 2021. 20 of the best three-year-old colts in the United States will run a mile and a quarter, the longest any of them have ever gone. At stake? A $3 million purse, the iconic blanket of roses, and a place in horse racing lore.
Where to Bet the Kentucky Derby
Before you get started handicapping the Kentucky Derby, make sure to choose the right sportsbook to bet the Kentucky Derby online. The top sportsbooks are all well trusted, well designed, and offer excellent odds for playing the Kentucky Derby.
Many of these sportsbooks are also offering special bonuses for Kentucky Derby players, including rebates and deposit bonuses. So, find the sportsbook that is offering the best odds on the horses you like and the best incentives for the bets you like to make, and get ready to score on Derby Day!
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Kentucky Derby Horses and Odds
This is the official field for the 2021 Kentucky Derby including post positions, trainers, and jockeys:
- Known Agenda: Todd Pletcher/Irad Ortiz, Jr.
- Like the King: Wesley Ward/Drayden Van Dyke
- Brooklyn Strong: Daniel Velazquez/Umberto Rispoli
- Keepmeinmind: Robertino Diodoro/David Cohen
- Sainthood: Todd Pletcher/Jockey TBA
- O Besos: Greg Foley/Marcelino Pedroza
- Mandaloun: Brad Cox/Florent Geroux
- Medina Spirit: Bob Baffert/John Velazquez
- Hot Rod Charlie: Doug O’Neill/Flavien Prat
- Midnight Bourbon: Steve Asmussen/Mike Smith
- Dynamic One: Todd Pletcher/Jose Ortiz
- Helium: Mark Casse/Julien Leparoux
- Hidden Stash: Vicki Oliver/Rafael Bejarano
- Essential Quality: Brad Cox/Luis Saez
- Rock Your World: John Sadler/Joel Rosario
- King Fury: Kenneth McPeek/Brian Hernandez
- Highly Motivated: Chad Brown/Javier Castellano
- Super Stock: Steve Asmussen/Ricardo Santana, Jr.
- Soup and Sandwich: Mark Casse/Tyler Gaffalione
- Bourbonic: Todd Pletcher/Kendrick Carmouche
No horses entered on an also-eligible list, so if any horses scratch the week of the race, the Kentucky Derby will be run with fewer than 20 horses.
These are the odds on the leading 2021 Kentucky Derby contenders at the best online sportsbooks:
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Free Kentucky Derby Picks
Let’s take a look at the top contenders in the 2021 Kentucky Derby. This includes some of the more formful and logical horses, as well as longshots who have a great shot of outrunning their odds on the first Saturday in May.
Kentucky Derby Handicapping
The likely favorite for the Kentucky Derby is Essential Quality. Last year’s two-year-old champion is undefeated in five starts, including a game and gritty victory in the Blue Grass Stakes. He has the versatility to work out a trip, and is already a winner over the Churchill surface. However, his trainer Brad Cox has yet to start in a Derby, much less win.
The best bet to beat the favorite is Known Agenda. He is getting very good at the right time, and most recently won the Florida Derby, one of the top Kentucky Derby preps. He is also bred well for the distance. Although he drew the rail, he still provides good value for two-time Derby-winning trainer Todd Pletcher.
Other shorter-priced horses include Louisiana Derby winner Hot Rod Charlie, Santa Anita Derby winner Rock Your World, and Blue Grass second Highly Motivated. Among these Hot Rod Charlie appeals most if you really want to use another shorter priced horse, since he keeps running to his company, but the Louisiana Derby winner usually disappoints in Kentucky.
Kentucky Derby Longshots
Your best bet for exotics is to use Known Agenda and Essential Quality alongside big longshots, since there are several who have a good shot at an extremely long price.
King Fury took a nontraditional road to the Kentucky Derby, making his three-year-old debut in the Lexington Stakes at Keeneland. He won with authority. His trainer Ken McPeek often gets good improvement from horses second off the layoff, and his pedigree gives him a lot of upside with time and distance. King Fury is also already a stakes winner at Churchill.
Helium could be the real surprise of the Kentucky Derby. He has only raced three times, but has shown a different running style in each of his starts. That gives him the versatility to work out the trip he needs to even in a crowded, chaotic twenty-horse race.
Midnight Bourbon was the consistent horse in the Louisiana spur of the Kentucky Derby trail, hitting the board in all three Fair Grounds preps and even winning the Lecomte. Though there is quite a bit of speed in the Derby this year and he is a forward horse, he can be tactical and he is consistent and plucky enough to keep on running for a share.
Dynamic One was nipped at the wire in the Wood Memorial by a deep closer, Bourbonic. Dynamic One should have a better run than that foe in the Kentucky Derby. Even when the pace is honest, the deepest closers often struggle to do more than finish midpack. Dynamic One should get a good trip rallying from midpack, and is bred very well for the stretch out.
Kentucky Derby Free Picks
Here are your free Kentucky Derby expert picks for the 2021 Kentucky Derby:
- $30 Win: Known Agenda
- $5 Win/Place/Show: King Fury, Helium
- $1 Exacta Key: Known Agenda with Essential Quality, King Fury, Helium
- $5 Trifecta Key: Known Agenda with Essential Quality, King Fury, Helium, Midnight Bourbon
- $1 Superfecta Key: Known Agenda with Essential Quality, King Fury, Helium, Dynamic One, Midnight Bourbon
Kentucky Derby Day Handicapping
Though the Kentucky Derby is the day’s feature race, it is not the only race Saturday at Churchill Downs that features top horses. There are six more stakes races on the card leading up to the Kentucky Derby. When placing your bets all day long, including on the all-stakes Pick 6, here are the horses to make sure to consider:
- Race 6: $500,000 Churchill Distaff Turf Mile (G2): Zofelle, She’s Got You
- Race 7: $500,000 Derby City Distaff (G1): Gamine
- Race 8: $500,000 Pat Day Mile (G2): Whiskey Double, Jackie’s Warrior, Defunded
- Race 9: $500,000 American Turf (G2): Scarlett Sky, Annex
- Race 10: $500,000 Churchill Downs Stakes (G1): Flagstaff, Hog Creek Hustle, Basin
- Race 11: $1 million Old Bourbon Forester Turf Classic (G1): Smooth Like Strait, Colonel Liam