2021 Kentucky Derby Race Preview, Top Picks and Longshots

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2021 Kentucky Derby Race Preview, Top Picks and Longshots
Hot Rod Charlie runs on the track during the training for the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs. Andy Lyons/Getty Images/AFP

The Kentucky Derby is one of the most wagered on events in the world every year for 147 years now. Now that the post positions have been drawn and the morning line odds have been set, we can look at who we think the likely winners are and why. We can also find the best longshots that could hit the board. All your triple crown betting needs are covered here at SBR.

Kentucky Derby

Saturday, May 1, 2021 – 06:50 PM EDT at Churchill Downs

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Essential Quality

This is the morning line favorite at 2-1 and with good reason. He drew the 14 post, which is fine for his running style and he narrowly avoided the dreaded rail post. There is little to dislike about this horse coming into this race, as the Brad Cox trainee is undefeated coming into the Kentucky Derby.

His performance in the Bluegrass Stakes at Keeneland was sublime. He comes in as the rightful favorite, however I don’t think this is a slam dunk for him. He will have quality contenders in the field.

Hot Rod Charlie

Trainer Doug O’Neill is going for his third Kentucky Derby after getting wins with Nyquist and I’ll Have Another. Hot Rod Charlie won a pretty good Louisiana Derby at Fair Grounds and effectively knocked Concert Tour off the Kentucky Derby trail.

Hot Rod Charlie runs the right style of race for this field. He likes to sit mid pack and make a big stretch run. That running style suits Churchill Downs and this big field. Additionally being handed the nine post is an ideal spot for this horse, which is important to note when heading to sportsbooks.

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Known Agenda

This was my top pick before the post position draw. The Todd Pletcher trainee drew the dreaded one hole in this race. Now, to be fair, it is less of an issue with the addition of the new twenty horse starting gate, but it is still a bad spot to be in as Known Agenda isn’t exactly the type that flies out of the gate to begin with.

I still like him for my Kentucky Derby betting because I trust Irad Ortiz to find a spot for him to settle into as the race comes around the first turn. I won’t leave him off my ticket, but he moved back a few spots after the draw.

Soup and Sandwich

Mark Casse has two horses entered in this race at longshot prices, but I think this is the one I am more intrigued by. The grey colt is lightly raced coming into the Kentucky Derby, but has shown a pattern that is exactly what you want to see.

He improves in each race he runs. His last outing was a strong second place finish to Known Agenda in the Florida Derby back at the end of March. The question is improvement with this one. If he can continue to take steps forward he is absolutely a live contender here at a huge morning line price of 30-1.

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