The 2021 Kentucky Derby will return to its usual place in the sporting calendar this year. The Run for the Roses will take place on the first weekend of May, and while we won’t have 200,000 people at Churchill Downs to catch the action, there’s a good chance we will see a decent number of fans in the stands after last year’s tepid affair. We don’t have the field set yet as there are still prep races like the Florida Derby, Santa Anita Derby, Wood Memorial, and Arkansas Derby, but we know some of the top contenders.
2021 Kentucky Derby at a Glance
Date: Saturday, May 1, 2021
Location: Churchill Downs, Louisville, Kentucky
Kentucky Derby Coverage: NBC
2021 Kentucky Derby Overview
The most famous race in the United States will see its 147th running on the first day of May. We have seen fortunes made and lost during The Greatest Two Minutes in Sports over the years, as this is still one of the most exciting sporting events in the world.
Favorites to Win the 2021 Kentucky Derby
Essential Quality +350
The current favorite to win the 147th Kentucky Derby is Essential Quality. He has won all four of the races he has entered since making his debut at Churchill Downs last September, winning two Grade 1 Stakes races in the Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity and the TVG Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. Essential Quality finished strong at the Grade 3 Southwest Stakes at Oaklawn Park last month to win the race by over four lengths, but he has yet to post a Beyer rating over 105.
Greatest Honour +600
Americans may cringe at seeing this horse’s name spelled with a ‘u’, but there’s nothing cringe about Greatest Honour’s performances over the last six months. The horse needed four tries to win its maiden, but he has looked strong in his last two races. Greatest Honour beat Tarantino by almost six lengths to win the Holy Bull Stakes at Gulfstream Park in late January, and he was even more impressive against a better field last month at the Fasig-Tipton Fountain of Youth Stakes. He won the race by 1 ½ lengths, outrunning Drain the Clock down the stretch and picking up his second win over horses like Papetu, Tarantino, and Prime Factor.
Caddo River +1500
There is serious value aside from the top two horses as every other pony is at least 15-1 on the current Kentucky Derby odds. Caddo River is intriguing to see at 15-1 given his poor performance at the Grade 2 Rebel Stakes two weeks ago. The horse won the Smarty Jones Stakes in January, but he looked rough despite being the favorite in his most recent race. He ran second for most of the race but had nothing left down the stretch and crossed the line in fifth place.
This is another horse that had a serious letdown in his most recent race. Mandaloun won his first two races and finished third at the Grade 3 Lecomte Stakes in January. He bounced back by winning the Grade 2 Risen Star Stakes in February, beating out Senor Buscador, Proxy, and Midnight Bourbon for his first major win. That led to him being the favorite at the Louisiana Derby last week, but Mandaloun never looked good in the eight-horse race. He started out in third place and ran out of gas in the backstretch to finish a disappointing sixth.
Midnight Bourbon +3000
One of the best named colts in recent memory as hit the board in all three of his races in 2021. Midnight Bourbon needed two tries to win his maiden, and he has since run five graded stakes races to make him one of the most experienced three-year-old horses in the field. He placed at the Iroquois Stakes and finished third at the Grade 1 Champagne Stakes last year, and he has since secured a first, second, and third place finish in 2021. Midnight Bourbon won the Lecomte Stakes and showed in the Risen Star Stakes before finishing second at the Louisiana Derby last week.
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