Kentucky Derby 2021 Post Positions: Field Info, Horses Odds and Predictions

Michelle Bruton@@michelle_nflFeatured ColumnistApril 29, 2021

Kentucky Derby entrant Rock Your World works out Churchill Downs Wednesday, April 28, 2021, in Louisville, Ky. The 147th running of the Kentucky Derby is scheduled for Saturday, May 1. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
Charlie Riedel/Associated Press

The post position draw for the 147th Kentucky Derby was released Tuesday, and with that, we know about as much as we're going to about the 20-horse field heading into the race on Saturday. 

If you've followed any horse racing news leading up to the Run for the Roses this year, you likely already know the odds-on favorite to win it all is Essential Quality, followed by Hot Rod Charlie and Rock Your World. 

Favorites are favorites for a reason, but when it comes to the Run for the Roses, it really does mean something. The favorite went on to win the Derby six consecutive times between 2014 and 2019. The favorite in 2020, Tiz the Law, was narrowly beaten out by Authentic. 

But when you think handicappers and the horse racing media alike are talking up Essential Quality's talent too much, just remember that favorites have done very well at Churchill Downs recently. 

Below, we'll take a look at the odds for each horse in the field, evaluate who has the best chance of earning the rose garland (and which dark horses could surprise) and predict the winner. 

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Post Positions for the 147th #KyDerby https://t.co/Qj3jv0KY6B


Kentucky Derby 2021 Post Positions, Odds

1. Known Agenda 6-1

2. Like the King 50-1

3. Brooklyn Strong 50-1

4. Keepmeinmind 50-1

5. Sainthood 50-1

6. O Besos 20-1

7. Mandaloun 15-1

8. Medina Spirit 15-1

9. Hot Rod Charlie 8-1

10. Midnight Bourbon 20-1

11. Dynamic One 20-1

12. Helium 50-1

13. Hidden Stash 50-1

14. Essential Quality 2-1

15. Rock Your World 5-1

16. King Fury 20-1

17. Highly Motivated 10-1

18. Super Stock 30-1

19. Soup and Sandwich 30-1

20. Bourbonic 30-1


It's easy to see why Essential Quality is the name you can't stop hearing about as we approach the Derby. The three-year-old is perfect in his career, dating back to his maiden debut at Churchill Downs in September 2020. 

There, of course, the Brad H. Cox-trained colt ran only six furlongs, not the 1 1/4 miles he will have to run to emerge victorious on Saturday. But it speaks well to Essential Quality's preparedness that he has done well on this track, on dirt. 

And, according to J. Keeler Johnson for TwinSpires.com, the Derby distance shouldn't be an issue for Essential Quality:

"The Godolphin homebred has been a standout on the Road to the Kentucky Derby, posting eye-catching victories in the Breeders’ Futurity (G1), Breeders' Cup Juvenile (G1), Southwest (G3), and Blue Grass (G2) over distances from 1 1/16 miles to 1 1/8 miles. These three impressive efforts hint classic distances will be well within reach for the classy gray colt."

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum has sought a Kentucky Derby win for decades. His Godolphin operation, which bred and owns Essential Quality, could finally achieve its goal in 2021. 

In a strange bit of trivia, Essential Quality is the first gray horse to be considered a favorite to win the Derby in 25 years, according to AP Sports. The last gray to win the race was Giacomo in 2005. 

Known Agenda drew the No. 1 post Tuesday, and his team wasn't overly happy about it.

"I started weeping," trainer Todd Pletcher told journalists after the draw. "Openly weeping. Look, there were three numbers left, and we had a one-in-three chance. I was hoping for 14 or 16, but it was one of those situations that you have no control over it, so you go with it."

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Known Agenda in slo-mo 🏇 https://t.co/LtcyRcEfXK

The rail post position usually means the horse starting from that stall will need to jostle his way through the pack, and the last horse to win from there was Ferdinand in 1986. 

However, the new 20-stall starting gate at Churchill Downs should make life easier for the horse on the rail, in this case, Known Agenda. Though not a robust favorite, keep an eye on the chestnut colt on Saturday. 

"One thing I like about our group overall is, I think they're designed for the mile and a quarter; they're stoutly bred that way, and I think if we can get lucky and get good trips with them, hopefully, they'll all be finishing well in the end," Pletcher said, per Frank Angst of The Blood-Horse

Rock Your World is another horse to beat heading into the Derby after winning the G1 Santa Anita Derby by 4 1/2 lengths. Prior to that race, the three-year-old had never raced on dirt or beyond a mile. 

Needless to say, that Santa Anita showing was critical in earning Rock Your World 100 points on the road to the Derby and showing the world that the colt is capable of contending in the Run for the Roses. 

"Rock Your World should be prominent from the start at Churchill Downs," James Scully of TwinSpires.com wrote. "His lack of experience is a concern, but the dark bay has won all three starts convincingly. He appears well-built for longer distances and given his improving form, Rock Your World will have appeal from a betting perspective."



Win: Essential Quality

Place: Known Agenda

Show: Rock Your World