The 147th Run for the Roses is scheduled to take place Saturday, and this year's field is an interesting one.
While last year's favorite, Tiz the Law, entered with a win in the Belmont Stakes, the Kentucky Derby is once again the first jewel in the Triple Crown. This means that this year's betting favorite, Essential Quality, will be hoping to carry a jewel win into the Preakness later next month.
Essential Quality is joined by other contenders like Rock Your World, Known Agenda and Hot Rod Charlie.
Unless something changes, we're looking at a full 20-horse field this year. A crowded track very well could make things difficult for the favorites and allow one of the dark horses to emerge.
2021 Kentucky Derby Gate Positions and 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
Odds via KentuckyDerby.com
Preview and Picks
While betting on the heavy favorite can feel like a safe play, it is no slam dunk this year. While Essential Quality may well win the race—and is my midweek pick—there is room for doubt.
According to Byron King of The Blood-Horse, though, the colt hasn't been particularly impressive during prerace prep.
"He has not amazed in his drills at Churchill leading up to the Derby," King wrote. "It is his race record that stands out."
Rock Your World will break directly next to Essential Quality and should have just as good of a chance of taking home the victory. For bettors, his 5-1 odds should be more enticing.
Another horse with alluring odds is Hot Rod Charlie, trained by two-time Derby winner Doug O'Neill. Hot Rod Charlie is coming off a win in the Louisiana Derby and has a favorable position in the No. 8 gate.
Known Agenda, however, had the misfortune of drawing the No. 1 gate. This places the Todd Pletcher-trained colt in danger of being pinned early and unable to advance in the pack.
"Obviously, it's not what we were hoping for," Pletcher said, per ESPN. "Of course, this is one of the things you can't control."
Known Agenda is coming off a win in the Florida Derby and has the goods to take home a win, but getting off the rail could prove difficult. Given the positioning, 6-1 odds aren't terrific.
Medina Spirit is a sleeper to watch at 15-1. While he is a long shot, the team of trainer Bob Baffert and jockey John Velazquez is the same team that led Authentic to victory last year.
Win: Essential Quality
Place: Hot Rod Charlie
Show: Rock Your World