Kentucky Derby 2021 Post Positions: Latest Odds, Historical Stats for Each Slot

Jake RillFeatured Columnist IApril 30, 2021

Kentucky Derby entrant Essential Quality waits to work out at Churchill Downs Thursday, April 29, 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

Essential Quality is the favorite to win the 2021 Kentucky Derby, and for good reason. The colt has won each of his first five career races and been impressive while doing so. There's a strong chance he keeps that going at Churchill Downs on Saturday.

But if Essential Quality races to victory, he'll have done something that no horse has done in 50 years: win from the No. 14 starting post. There have only been two winners from that gate, and the most recent was Carry Back in 1961. The other was Middleground in 1950.

Still, it may not be a bad starting spot for a horse as strong as Essential Quality, who won the Breeders' Cup Juvenile in November and has carried that momentum into 2021 by winning the Southwest Stakes and Blue Grass Stakes. He'll now look to become the 10th horse to win the Kentucky Derby with an undefeated record.

Here's a look at the post positions and odds for this year's Derby, followed by more historical stats based on starting spots in the Run for the Roses.


2021 Kentucky Derby Post 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.


Historical Stats

Essential Quality's starting gate may not have had much past success, but that's not the case for the other favorite starting next to him. Rock Your World will be starting from the No. 15 post, which is a spot that has produced six Kentucky Derby champions in the past.

Not only that, but the 15th gate has been the starting spot of some recent winners, including Authentic (2020), Triple Crown champion American Pharoah (2015) and Orb (2013). So perhaps Rock Your World, who has won each of his first three career races, will bring more success to that gate.

It wasn't the spot that Michael Talla, a co-owner of Rock Your World, wanted for his colt, though. According to Jason Frakes of the Louisville Courier Journal, Talla had been hoping for the No. 10 post. Instead, they got No. 15, which isn't a bad gate, either.

"We're happy right where we're at," Talla said, per Frakes. "We can win just fine from there."

The gate that has produced the most Kentucky Derby winners is the No. 5 post, which has been the starting spot of 10 champions, including Always Dreaming (2017) and California Chrome (2014) in recent years. However, the horse starting from that gate this year is 50-1 longshot Sainthood, so it's unlikely it will produce another winner.

The No. 10 post that Talla wanted for Rock Your World has been the starting spot of nine Kentucky Derby winners, although it hasn't produced one since Giacomo in 2005. Coincidentally, Giacomo's jockey was Mike Smith, who will be riding Midnight Bourbon, the horse starting from the No. 10 post this year.

One gate that trainers and owners are typically hoping to avoid at the post draw is the No. 1 spot. That's because it can be tough for horses to start all the way on the inside, especially if that horse doesn't typically break fast from the gate.

The No. 1 post has produced eight Kentucky Derby winners, but none since Ferdinand in 1986. And there hadn't been one before him since Chateaugay in 1963.

This year, the No. 1 starting spot belongs to Known Agenda, the horse that has the third-best odds to win the race. Trainer Todd Pletcher recently noted that Known Agenda's performance in the Florida Derby (which he won) could indicate that the colt won't struggle despite the unlucky post draw.

"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," Pletcher said, per Frakes. "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."

Of the 20 starting posts, only one has never generated a winner: No. 17. This year, Highly Motivated will be looking to become the first to race to victory from that gate, although history isn't on his side.