The 2021 Kentucky Derby will happen Saturday, May 1 at Churchill Downs, They race over a mile and a quarter on the dirt, and draws 20 of the best three-year-olds from all over the United States. Though no Kentucky Derby entrant was bred in Ontario, Helium is not only trained by Canadian hall-of-famer Mark Casse but started his career with two wins at Woodbine.
Keep reading to find out the best Kentucky Derby betting picks!
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Kentucky Derby Contenders
Handicapping the Kentucky Derby requires, first of all, knowing who the contenders are.
2021 Kentucky Derby Field
The expected field for the 2021 Kentucky Derby with jockeys and trainers, in order of preference, is:
- Essential Quality: Brad Cox/Luis Saez
- Hot Rod Charlie: Doug O’Neill/Flavien Prat
- Super Stock: Steve Asmussen/Ricardo Santana, Jr.
- Like the King: Wesley Ward/Drayden Van Dyke
- Known Agenda: Todd Pletcher/Irad Ortiz, Jr.
- Rock Your World: John Sadler/Joel Rosario
- Bourbonic: Todd Pletcher/Kendrick Carmouche
- Medina Spirit: Bob Baffert/John Velazquez
- Midnight Bourbon: Steve Asmussen/Mike Smith
- Mandaloun: Brad Cox/Florent Geroux
- Highly Motivated: Chad Brown/Javier Castellano
- Helium: Mark Casse/Julien Leparoux
- Soup and Sandwich: Mark Casse/Tyler Gaffalione
- Dynamic One: Todd Pletcher/Jose Ortiz
- Sainthood: Todd Pletcher/Jockey TBA
- Hidden Stash: Vicki Oliver/Rafael Bejarano
- O Besos: Greg Foley/Marcelino Pedroza
- Get Her Number: Peter Miller/Jockey TBA
- King Fury: Ken McPeek/Brian Hernandez
- Keepmeinmind: Robertino Diodoro/David Cohen
The final field will be drawn on Tuesday, April 27, 2021. On that date, you will know post positions and official United States morning lines.
Kentucky Derby Handicapping
Essential Quality will be the 2021 Kentucky Derby favourite. He is undefeated in five starts, and most recently won the Blue Grass at Keeneland. He has won with multiple running styles, and he showed a lot of heart to wear down Highly Motivated to win. He will be trainer Brad Cox’s first Kentucky Derby starter.
The best bet to beat the favourite is Known Agenda. He is trained by two-time Kentucky Derby winner Todd Pletcher, and getting good at the perfect time. He won the Florida Derby, which is one of the best Kentucky Derby preps. He is bred well for 1 1/4 miles, can rally into a quick pace, and should be sharp and ready to go.
Other shorter-priced horses are Louisiana Derby winner Hot Rod Charlie, Santa Anita Derby winner Rock Your World, and Arkansas Derby winner Super Stock. Hot Rod Charlie, trained by two-time Kentucky Derby winner Doug O’Neill, is the best of this set. He is well-travelled and keeps running to his company. But, Louisiana Derby winners usually disappoint in Louisville.
Fortunately, there are several live Kentucky Derby longshots.
King Fury took an unorthodox trip to the Kentucky Derby, winning his final prep in the Lexington Stakes at Keeneland. He is already a stakes winner at Churchill Downs, and he is bred well to stretch out to the Derby distance. He should move forward second off the lay for Ken McPeek, and should relish a sharp pace to rally into.
Helium, a live Kentucky Derby longshot, began his career at Woodbine Racetrack in Canada. He won twice on the Tapeta at Woodbine last year, and then shined when he switched to dirt for the Tampa Bay Derby. He is lightly raced, but he is undefeated, and he has won all three of his races with three different running styles.
Midnight Bourbon will be a longshot, but he was one of the most consistent horses on the Derby trail. He hit the board in all three Kentucky Derby preps at Fair Grounds. He has speed, but has shown he can battle on even when the pace gets hotly contested. That can help him stay on for a share.
Dynamic One finished second in the Wood Memorial, but should be a longshot who gets the jump on the truly deep closers, something that always helps in the Kentucky Derby. He is trained by two-time Kentucky Derby winner Todd Pletcher, and has a strong pedigree to try the Classic distance.
Kentucky Derby Free Bets
Known Agenda is the best bet in the Kentucky Derby. Play him to win, play some longshots across the board, and build exotics with Known Agenda, Essential Quality, and the best Kentucky Derby longshots.
- $20 Win: Known Agenda
- $10 Win/Place/Show: King Fury, Helium
- $5 Exacta Box: Known Agenda, Essential Quality, King Fury, Helium
- $1 Superfecta Box: Known Agenda, Essential Quality, King Fury, Helium, Midnight Bourbon, Dynamic One
Check out this list of top sportsbooks in Canada, choose the bonuses that are right for you, and place your bets.
Kentucky Oaks Valuable Bets and Picks
The Kentucky Oaks, another one of the biggest horse races of the year , will be run on Friday, April 30. Fourteen of the best three-year-old fillies in the country will run 1 1/8 miles on the dirt. The favorite is likely to be either Malathaat or Travel Column.
Malathaat is undefeated in four starts for trainer Todd Pletcher, including a win in the Ashland Stakes at Keeneland. She is versatile enough to get a good trip, though she has not raced yet at Churchill, which raises questions.
Travel Column is the real horse to beat. She is trained by Brad Cox and ridden by Florent Geroux, both of whom have won two of the last three Kentucky Oaks. She is pace-versatile, she drew a great post, and she is already a graded stakes winner over the Churchill surface.
A good mid-priced horse to use is Clairiere. Clairiere beat Travel Column two starts back in the Rachel Alexandra, and she has a good late-running style in a Kentucky Oaks with a lot of speed drawn in. She is also already a winner at Churchill.
Two longshots to consider are Pauline’s Pearl and Coach. Pauline’s Pearl is mature enough to rally well through horses, suggesting she can get a good trip in the Oaks. Coach is already a winner at Churchill, she is another one trained by Brad Cox, and her jockey Luis Saez is riding hotter right now than anyone in Kentucky.
Kentucky Oaks Expert Picks
- $20 Win: Travel Column
- $5 Trifecta Key: Travel Column with Malathaat, Clairiere, Pauline’s Pearl, Coach
Sportsbooks are offering excellent bonuses and promo offers for both big races, the Kentucky Derby and the Kentucky Oaks. So, make sure to find the best one for you and place your bets!