2021 Kentucky Derby Predictions

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by Clark Shelton, Editor

As a long-time fan of horse racing, I am excited to have some crowd noise and for The Kentucky Derby to return where it belongs on the first Saturday in May. Mint Julep in hand I am going to break down the field, and then give my predictions.

Post position, horse, trainer, jockey, morning-line odds 

1. Known Agenda, Todd Pletcher, Irad Ortiz Jr., 6-1

2. Like the King, Wesley Ward, Drayden Van Dyke, 50-1

3. Brooklyn Strong, Daniel Velazquez, Umberto Rispoli, 50-1

4. Keepmeinmind, Robertino Diodoro, David Cohen, 50-1

5. Sainthood, Todd Pletcher, Corey Lanerie, 50-1

6. O Besos, Greg Foley, Marcelino Pedroza, 20-1

7. Mandaloun, Brad Cox, Florent Geroux, 15-1

8. Medina Spirit, Bob Baffert, John Velazquez, 15-1

9. Hot Rod Charlie, Doug O’Neill, Flavien Prat, 8-1

10. Midnight Bourbon, Steve Asmussen, Mike Smith, 20-1

11. Dynamic One, Todd Pletcher, Jose Ortiz, 20-1

12. Helium, Mark Casse, Julien Leparoux, 50-1

13. Hidden Stash, Vicki Oliver, Rafael Bejarano, 50-1

14. Essential Quality, Brad Cox, Luis Saez, 2-1

15. Rock Your World, John Sadler, Joel Rosario, 5-1

16. King Fury, Kenny McPeek, Brian Hernandez Jr., 20-1

17. Highly Motivated, Chad Brown, Javier Castellano, 10-1

18. Super Stock, Steve Asmussen, Ricardo Santana Jr., 30-1

19. Soup and Sandwich, Mark Casse, Tyler Gaffalione, 30-1

20. Bourbonic, Todd Pletcher, Kendrick Carmouche, 30-1

On paper, Essential Quality is and should be the morning line favorite. The son of Tapit, has a hot trainer, an experienced jockey, a good post position, and an undefeated record at 5-0-0 coming into the race. He seems versatile enough to win the race, but this is the Derby and with a 20 horse field, you have to have some luck also.

Next to Essential Quality in the gate is another undefeated at 3-0-0, Rock Your World at 5-1 morning line. But, despite his Santa Anita Derby win, I am not sold on the fact that he deserves this price.

Hot Rod Charlie deserves a look as the trainer/jockey combo is one of the best in the country and he has proven he belongs here at 8-1.

BUT, the three above-named horses are going to be a press the pace/stalker type of racing and there is a lot of front-end speed. So, I am going down on the rail and picking up the strong closer at  6-1 in the morning line: Known Agenda. The son of Curlin’ is a stretch closer, and at Churchill, that long stretch favors him. Plus add in the duo of Todd Pletcher and Irad Ortiz, Jr. and if he can find a hole mid-turn to top of the stretch, I expect Known Agenda to be in the mix.

So, my final predictions:

Win: Known Agenda

Trifecta: 1/9,14,15/9,14,15,7

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