2021 Kentucky Derby: Runner-by-runner guide and 50-1 outsider tip

Churchill Down Grandstand

The first jewel in the American Triple Crown, the Kentucky Derby is a race to savour. Raced over the 1m 2f distance at Churchill Downs, the 147th Run for the Roses looks as ultra-competitive as ever.

20 three-year-olds will be competing for the $3,000,000 purse and the spectacle can be watched live on Sky Sports Racing. If you’re looking to pick the winner of the Kentucky Derby, then look no further than our essential runner-by-runner guide. We’ve analysed each of the 20 contenders and picked out a 50-1 outsider tip for America’s most prestigious race.

Kentucky Derby runner-by-runner guide

1 – Known Agenda (Irad Ortiz Jr, Todd Pletcher) * * * *

Looked nothing out of the ordinary in his opening four starts but two recent victories at Gulfstream have put him firmly in the picture. Trounced his rivals to win the Florida Derby last time, defeating Soup And Sandwich. Has drawn the infamous inside gate but obvious form claims.

2 – Like The King (Drayden Van Dyke, Wesley Ward) * 

Posted a career-best effort to win the Jeff Ruby at Turfway Park last time. He’s run flat on both his dirt outings to date, however, and he falls a long way short on the figures.

3 – Brooklyn Strong (Umberto Rispoli, Daniel Velazquez) * * * * *

Won three of his four starts as a juvenile, including the Grade 2 Remsen at Aqueduct, where he was ahead of Known Agenda. Will strip fitter for his return in the Wood Memorial and his stable are in red-hot form. Can out-run his prohibitive odds.

4 – Keepmeinmind (David Cohen, Robertino Diodoro) * 

Won the Grade 2 Kentucky Jockey Club as a juvenile but has failed to fire on both his starts this year. Deep closer who will relish a strong gallop, but this year’s evidence makes him tough to fancy.

5 – Sainthood (Corey Lanerie, Todd Pletcher) * 

Just the three starts to date, second to Like The King in the Jeff Ruby last time. Long way off in terms of the figures and this may come too soon in his career on recent evidence.

6 – O Besos (Marcelino Pedroza, Gregory Foley) * * 

Dual winner at Fair Grounds, not disgraced in two recent Grade 2 assignments. Latest run in the Louisiana Derby can be upgraded as he was a deep closer in a race where the pace held up; interesting long-shot.

7 – Mandaloun (Florent Geroux, Brad Cox) * * 

Won the Risen Star at Fair Grounds impressively two starts back but subsequently bombed out in the Louisiana Derby. His Risen Star effort gives him a place chance but it’s difficult to trust him implicitly now.

8 – Medina Spirit (John Velazquez, Bob Baffert) * * * * 

Grade 3 winner at Santa Anita as a juvenile and unlucky to bump into Life Is Good and Rock Your World in 2021. Potential pace angle who comes into the race under the radar and he’s one to take very seriously at a price.

9 – Hot Rod Charlie (Flavien Prat, Doug O’Neill) * * * * 

2nd in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and created a good impression when winning the Louisiana Derby last time. That Keeneland form matches him with Essential Quality and he’s entitled to go close.

10 – Midnight Bourbon (Mike Smith, Steve Asmussen) * * 

Can call upon plenty of experience, winning two of his seven starts, latterly the Lecomte at Fair Grounds. Behind some of these rivals when placing in the Risen Star and Louisiana Derby subsequently, however, and likely to fall short.

11 – Dynamic One (Jose Ortiz, Todd Pletcher) * * 

Took four attempts to get off the mark but subsequent second to Bourbonic in the Wood Memorial proved that he has lots of ability. That being said, he needs another big step forward and is unlikely to land a blow for win purposes.

12 – Helium (Julien Leparoux, Mark Casse) * 

Perfect three from three, winning the Tampa Bay Derby off the layoff, his first start over two turns. Just the one preparation race is a concern and would need a significant step forward to be involved.

13 – Hidden Stash (Rafael Bejarano, Victoria Oliver) * 

Just the two wins from seven starts and has a tendency to find little for pressure, as he did in the Tampa Bay Derby behind Helium. None of his form suggests he’s a potential Kentucky Derby winner.

14 – Essential Quality (Luis Saez, Brad Cox) * * * * 

Champion juvenile who arrives on a five-race win streak. Ran down Highly Motivated to win the Blue Grass last time, continuing to steadily improve for top connections. Tactically versatile and has an obvious favourites chance, but perhaps a shade short odds-wise.

15 – Rock Your World (Joel Rosario, John Sadler) * * * * 

Unbeaten in three starts and produced the best beyer speed figure of this year’s bunch (100) in the Santa Anita Derby. Still looked green that day and that bodes well for further improvement. Will set out to make all the running and perhaps deserves to be favourite.

16 – King Fury (Brian Hernandez Jr, Kenneth McPeek) * * 

Fell short in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and Kentucky Jockey Club to round off his juvenile campaign. Caused a shock when landing the Lexington off the layoff last time but had everything go his way; others preferred.

17 – Highly Motivated (Javier Castellano, Chad Brown) * * * 

Extremely talented, placed in the Gotham and Blue Grass this year. Had the perfect trip in latter contest but couldn’t fend off Essential Quality, though little disgrace in that. Stamina issues stretched out even further in distance.

18 – Super Stock (Ricardo Santana Jr, Steve Asmussen) * *  

Only two wins from eight starts and perhaps flattered by his Arkansas Derby victory at Oaklawn last month, getting everything his own way. Needs another big step forward and unlikely to get the perfect trip in this.

19 – Soup and Sandwich (Tyler Gaffalione, Mark Casse) * * 

Lost his unbeaten record in the Florida Derby, his third career start, defeated by Known Agenda. Ran well that day having clung to a strong pace but this is even tougher and it’s difficult to make a case for him.

20 – Bourbonic (Kendrick Carmouche, Todd Pletcher) * * 

Deep closer who won’t mind being drawn in the car park. Came from the clouds to land the Wood Memorial at enormous odds last time and although he needs to improve again, the race is set up to suit and he’ll come with one surging run.

50-1 outsider tip

Winning three of his five starts thus far, there’s plenty to like about the chance of BROOKLYN STRONG at a huge price. Daniel Velazquez’s charge ended his juvenile campaign with victory in the Remsen, defeating a below-par Known Agenda, and he ran better than the bare result suggests in the Wood Memorial on his 2021 return last time.

He’s entitled to strip much fitter for that effort and as a horse who’s likely to come off the pace, the race should set up perfectly for him. Velazquez’s string have come into form at the perfect time too, with 28% of his last 50 runners returning as winners. He hasn’t enjoyed the ideal preparation, but he’s much better than his odds suggest and should run a big race.

If you back any of our selections you can watch them live on the free Racing Post app or racingpost.com. Simply log in to one of your bookmaker accounts and click ‘Watch live’ on the racecards.

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