Kentucky Derby 2021: Early Preakness Predictions After Churchill Downs Results

Maurice Bobb@@ReeseReportFeatured ColumnistMay 2, 2021

John Velazquez riding Medina Spirit, right, leads Florent Geroux on Mandaloun, Flavien Prat riding Hot Rod Charlie and Luis Saez on Essential Quality to win the 147th running of the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs, Saturday, May 1, 2021, in Louisville, Ky. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
Jeff Roberson/Associated Press

Bob Baffert does it again.

The iconic trainer notched his record-breaking seventh Kentucky Derby win Saturday after Medina Spirit, who took the early lead and made its way to the top of the stretch ahead of Mandaloun, Hot Rod Charlie and Essential Quality, cruised to victory at the 147th annual Run for the Roses and put Baffert and jockey John Velazquez into the record books.

After such a strong showing, Medina Spirit is likely now the odds-on favorite to win the Preakness Stakes, the second leg in the hunt for the iconic Triple Crown.

With the race less than two weeks away on Saturday, May 15, fans will have precious little time to catch their collective breath and watch as another Baffert colt chases history.

Here's a quick look at early predictions heading into Pimlico Race Course's big racing event.


Preakness Stakes Picks

Win: Medina Spirit

Jeff Roberson/Associated Press

Medina Spirit didn't exactly come out of nowhere.

The Baffert-trained colt was predicted to come in no worse than sixth place in the Derby and, in its six previous career starts, never placed lower than second.

Still, the way it ran and the way it dominated the field the entire race surprised everyone, including Baffert.

"I cannot believe he won this race,'" Baffert told ESPN. "That little horse, that was him, all guts. He's always shown that he's been an overachiever. His heart is bigger than his body.'"

Not bad for a horse that was bought for a meager $1,000 and sold to owner Amr Zedan for $35,000. On Saturday, the same colt raced to victory and a purse worth $1.86 million.

"He doesn't know how much he cost," Baffert added, "but what a little racehorse."

There's still going to be plenty of competition at the Preakness, but don't be surprised if Medina Spirit is an early favorite.


Place: King Fury

Charlie Riedel/Associated Press

King Fury was an early odds-on favorite to pull off an upset at the Derby but had to scratch because of fever.

Health shouldn't be an obstacle for the Preakness, though.

"He's a really good horse, and he's doing exceptionally well right now," trainer Kenny McPeek told Frank Vespe of the Racing Biz. "[H]is race in the Lexington was powerful, and I think the mile-and-a-quarter [of the Kentucky Derby] would be right up his alley."

The horse named after boxer Tyson Fury has a good chance to come out on top at the Preakness with McPeek at the helm.

Last year, McPeek's colt Swiss Skydiver beat 2020 Derby winner Authentic by a neck in Baltimore.

"Any time you can knock down a race like the Preakness, it was ecstatic," McPeek added. "The way that race unfolded was amazing, and certainly to be on the right side of that win was awesome."

Look for the Lexington Stakes winner to build on its momentum and challenge at Pimlico.


Show: Essential Quality

Charlie Riedel/Associated Press

Essential Quality made a push in the final furlong at the Derby but finished fourth, not exactly the best showing for the heavy favorite coming into the race.

"He didn't get the greatest trip,'" trainer Brad Cox told ESPN. "That can happen when you start from the 14-hole."

Jockey Luis Saez had Essential Quality running on the outside most of the race and tried to made a move in the final stretch, challenging Medina Spirit, Mandaloun and Hot Rod Charlie all the way to the finish.

"He bumped pretty good out of the gate," Saez told Ben Roberts of Kentucky.com. "We ended up getting pretty wide the entire trip which didn't help, either."

The Blue Grass Stakes winner could be another post-time favorite heading into Baltimore, and with only one loss on its record, this horse could be primed for a big bounce back.