Kentucky Derby 2021 Contenders: Horse Pedigree and Jockey Info for Top Favorites

Jake RillFeatured Columnist IApril 28, 2021

Kentucky Derby 2021 Contenders: Horse Pedigree and Jockey Info for Top Favorites

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    Charlie Riedel/Associated Press

    On Saturday, 20 horses will head to the gates at Churchill Downs, but only one will emerge victorious as the winner of the 2021 Kentucky Derby, which will kick off this year's Triple Crown schedule.

    It's the most exciting time of the year for horse racing, and this year, it's taking place as scheduled. In 2020, the Derby was postponed to September, which made it the second of the three Triple Crown events to occur. It's now returned to its typical date on the first Saturday in May.

    While Essential Quality is the favorite to win the Run for the Roses, there are a number of talented entrants in this year's field. Perhaps another mount with strong odds will be victorious or a long shot pulls off an upset.

    Here is this year's full Kentucky Derby field, along with a closer look at the top contenders.

Post Lineup, Odds

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    Charlie Riedel/Associated Press

    1. Known Agenda (6-1)
    Trainer: Todd Pletcher
    Jockey: Irad Ortiz Jr.

    2. Like the King (50-1)
    Trainer: Wesley Ward
    Jockey: Drayden Van Dyke

    3. Brooklyn Strong (50-1)
    Trainer: Daniel Velazquez
    Jockey: Umberto Rispoli

    4. Keepmeinmind (50-1)
    Trainer: Robertino Diodoro
    Jockey: David Cohen

    5. Sainthood (50-1)
    Trainer: Todd Pletcher
    Jockey: Corey Lanerie

    6. O Besos (20-1)
    Trainer: Greg Foley
    Jockey: Marcelino Pedroza

    7. Mandaloun (15-1)
    Trainer: Brad Cox
    Jockey: Florent Geroux

    8. Medina Spirit (15-1)
    Trainer: Bob Baffert
    Jockey: John Velazquez

    9. Hot Rod Charlie (8-1)
    Trainer: Doug O'Neill
    Jockey: Flavien Prat

    10. Midnight Bourbon (20-1)
    Trainer: Steve Asmussen
    Jockey: Mike Smith

    11. Dynamic One (20-1)
    Trainer: Todd Pletcher
    Jockey: Jose Ortiz

    12. Helium (50-1)
    Trainer: Mark Casse
    Jockey: Julien Leparoux

    13. Hidden Stash (50-1)
    Trainer: Victoria Oliver
    Jockey: Rafael Bejarano

    14. Essential Quality (2-1)
    Trainer: Brad Cox
    Jockey: Luis Saez

    15. Rock Your World (5-1)
    Trainer: John Sadler
    Jockey: Joel Rosario

    16. King Fury (20-1)
    Trainer: Kenny McPeek
    Jockey: Brian Hernandez Jr.

    17. Highly Motivated (10-1)
    Trainer: Chad Brown
    Jockey: Javier Castellano

    18. Superstock (30-1)
    Trainer: Steve Asmussen
    Jockey: Ricardo Santana Jr.

    19. Soup and Sandwich (30-1)
    Trainer: Mark Casse
    Jockey: Tyler Gaffalione

    20. Bourbonic (30-1)
    Trainer: Todd Pletcher
    Jockey: Kendrick Carmouche

    Odds via Vegas Insider

Essential Quality (2-1)

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    Darron Cummings/Associated Press

    Quite a bit of history could be made if Essential Quality lives up to expectations and races to victory in this year's Run for the Roses.

    Having won each of his first five career races, the colt will be looking to become the 10th undefeated horse to win the Kentucky Derby. He's picked up some impressive victories on the way, winning at the Breeders' Cup Juvenile last November and the Southwest Stakes and Blue Grass Stakes this year.

    His trainer, Brad H. Cox, has never previously entered a horse in the Kentucky Derby, but he has two in this year's field, as Mandaloun will also be running. If either horse wins, he would become the first Louisville-born trainer to win the race.

    Jockey Luis Saez will be looking to win his first Kentucky Derby, as he's never finished better than seventh (which he did with Brody's Cause in 2016). However, he did cross the line first in 2019 on Maximum Security, who was then disqualified for interference. So, Saez will be trying to get redemption in his first Derby ride since then.

    Essential Quality has a lot of hype after his impressive past performances, and now it's time for him to live up to it.

Rock Your World (5-1)

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    Charlie Riedel/Associated Press

    Rock Your World will be starting from the No. 15 post on Saturday, which means he'll be alongside Essential Quality (starting in No. 14). And like the favorite, he also has an undefeated record.

    Although Rock Your World hasn't raced as much, he owns three career victories, including the Pasadena Stakes and Santa Anita Derby earlier this year. He also has a strong pedigree, as he's a son of Candy Ride, who won six races and finished his career with an undefeated record.

    Trainer John Sadler has saddled four horses in the Kentucky Derby previously, but he's never won the race and hasn't had a colt in the field since 2014.

    "I've learned you don't go back without a contender. You want to go back with a good shot," he said, per Brad Free of the Daily Racing Form. "I wouldn't be going just for the trip. I'm going with a better horse."

    And Sadler will have an experienced jockey to hand, as Joel Rosario won the Kentucky Derby in 2013 with Orb. It'll be the first time the 36-year-old has ridden Rock Your World since the colt's racing debut in January.

Known Agenda (6-1)

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    Charlie Riedel/Associated Press

    Trainer Todd Pletcher has four horses in this year's Kentucky Derby field, but Known Agenda is the one with the best odds to win. The colt has competed in six races and won each of his past two, including the Florida Derby last month.

    Known Agenda will be starting from the No. 1 post, which is not a spot trainers typically want their horses to start. But as Pletcher noted, Known Agenda raced on the inside during his impressive showing at the Florida Derby.

    "He got into the first turn and down the backside, and he was able to advance and improve his position in there and show that he can handle being inside," he said, per Jason Frakes of the Louisville Courier Journal. "He didn't do that so much as a two-year-old in the Remsen before we put blinkers on him. But it's just not an ideal post to start."

    Pletcher is a two-time Derby winner, notching victories with Super Saver in 2010 and Always Dreaming in 2017. Jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. will be on board but has never won the Kentucky Derby (his best showing was a fourth-place finish with Improbable in 2019), but he owns 11 career Breeders' Cup victories and claimed the 2016 Belmont Stakes with Creator.

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