The 147th running of the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs returns to its usual spot on the calendar on the first Saturday in May: May 1, 2021. It has been held every year since Aristides won in 1875, and since then it has become the most famous race in the United States. 20 horses are expected for the Grade 1, 1 1/14-mile Run for the Roses.
Let’s look at VegasBetting’s 2021 Kentucky Derby Picks.
|Kentucky Derby Winners Odds 2021|
|Rock Your World||+475||+500||+500|
|Hot Rod Charlie||+800||+800||+800|
Betting the Kentucky Derby Online
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The field for the 2021 Kentucky Derby comprises up to 20 of the best three-year-old horses in the United States. Only 20 horses are allowed in the main field, though up to four more horses can enter as also-eligible and can replace any horses who scratch before local betting begins at 9:00am Eastern on the day before the Derby.
Essential Quality will be the favorite. Trained by Brad Cox and ridden by Luis Saez, he is the champion two-year-old male of 2020. He won both of his Kentucky Derby preps in 2021, the Southwest Stakes (G3) and the Blue Grass Stakes (G2). He had to fight hard to win the Blue Grass over Highly Motivated, who he will face again in the Kentucky Derby. Fourth-place Hidden Stash and fifth-place Keepmeinmind also expected in Louisville.
King Fury won a different prep at Keeneland, the Lexington Stakes. The son of Curlin impressed in his first start of his three-year-old season for trainer Ken McPeek, who doesn’t always have his runners set to fire first off a lay. He is already a stakes winner at Churchill Downs, another point in his favor.
Three other important prep races for the Kentucky Derby are the Florida Derby (G1), the Santa Anita Derby (G1), and the Arkansas Derby (G1).
Known Agenda, trained by two-time Kentucky Derby winner Todd Pletcher, won the Florida Derby over improving and lightly-raced Soup and Sandwich, another Kentucky Derby entrant.
Santa Anita Derby winner Rock Your World will be the first Kentucky Derby starter for trainer John Sadler. That was his first dirt race, but he raced with a quick pace and kept on to win strongly over Kentucky Derby competitor Medina Spirit.
Super Stock upset the Arkansas Derby (G1) for trainer Steve Asmussen, who has run 22 Kentucky Derby horses but not yet won the roses. Though beaten favorite Concert Tour will bypass the Kentucky Derby, Get Her Number will show up for a rematch in Louisville.
Hot Rod Charlie, trained by two-time Derby winner Doug O’Neill, is another California-based horse, though he got his final prep win in the Louisiana Derby (G2). Second in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) last year, he beat Derby entrants Midnight Bourbon, O Besos, and Mandaloun in New Orleans.
Other longshots in the field include Bourbonic and Dynamic One, the top two Wood Memorial (G2) finishers, Like the King and Sainthood, the top two in the Jeff Ruby Steaks (G3), and Tampa Bay Derby (G2) winner Helium.
Post positions for the 2021 Kentucky Derby will be drawn on Tuesday, April 27; official morning lines will be released that day as well. Essential Quality will be the favorite. Other horses at shorter prices will include Rock Your World, Known Agenda, and Hot Rod Charlie. Others are expected to be double-digit prices.
Posts close to the rail are considered poor due to difficult traffic inside of such a large field. Far-outside post positions also cause trouble due to ground loss from a wide trip. The best post positions are the moderately-inside to middle post positions, from about 4 through 10. Those give the horses the best chance to get a shot without losing too much ground.
When picking a Kentucky Derby winner, it is worth considering recent history and trends. Modern Kentucky Derby winners almost always win their final prep; the only one who didn’t since the points system began in 2013 was Country House (2019), and he was put up by disqualification over a horse who won the Florida Derby in his final prep.
The winner doesn’t have to be the betting favorite; in 2020 Authentic won the Haskell before winning the Kentucky Derby before beating favored Tiz the Law. And, longshots who do not win their final preps often hit the board, so you can bet them across the board and use them in exotic wagers like trifectas and superfectas.
The Kentucky Derby superfecta is a bet that usually pays off big. The Kentucky Derby handicapper selects the top four horses. That can be difficult in a twenty-horse field, but huge payoffs make it a profitable bet. The horses have to be in the right order; playing a box is more expensive than playing it straight, but ensures you hit if the longshot you like spices up the payout.
$1 Kentucky Derby Superfecta Box – Known Agenda, Essential Quality, King Fury, Helium, Dynamic One, Midnight Bourbon
To hit the Kentucky Derby trifecta, you select the top three horses. You can play it straight, or you can box them in order to win if they finish in any order.
In this instance, the Kentucky Derby handicapper is betting that favored Essential Quality will miss the board, leading to a big payday in the trifecta.
In this Kentucky Derby trifecta key, the Kentucky Derby Handicapper allows for the favorite to hit the board, but you get more bang for your buck by keying on top choice Known Agenda and including a few longer prices.
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