For openers, this year’s Kentucky Derby will be different from past Derbies. This Derby will prohibit use of race-day medications, a decision not without some controversy. How some runners react to racing 10- furlongs for the first time without medication is a new known unknown for fans and bettors. The industry’s goal, however, is to ban the use of race day medications by 2022.
A full field of 20 will again meet the starter. Contention begins with prep race winners and moves to “sneaky good” non-winners. Note, however, that the public’s “live” odds board continues to be a most reliable predictor of both contention and results. The winner will most likely emerge from among the public’s first 7-8 betting choices.
Post positions and morning line odds in ascending order:
14) Essential Quality 2-1
15) Rock Your World 5-1
1) Known Agenda 6-1
9) Hot Rod Charlie 6-1
17) Highly Motivated 10-1
8) Medina Spirit 15-1
7) Mandaloun 15-1
6) O Besos 20-1
11) Dynamic One 20-1
16) King Fury 20-1
10) Midnight Bourbon 20-1
19) Soup and Sandwich 30-1
18) Super Stock 30-1
20) Bourbonic 30-1
2) Like the King 50-1
3) Brooklyn Strong 50-1
4) Keepmeinmind 50-1
5) Sainthood 50-1
12) Helium 50-1
13) Hidden Stash 50-1
Line favorite (14) Essential Quality is talented but was all out in the Blue Grass chasing the length of the stretch to win over a tiring rival. For me, that is also a knock against the one he beat (17) Highly Motivated. (16) Rock Your World easily defeated (8) Medina Spirit in the Santa Anita Derby, pressed by that rival before spurting clear. Florida Derby winner (1) Known Agenda is talented, but a one-paced grinder possibly hampered breaking inside and forced to race in and among rivals throughout. Louisiana Derby winner (9) Hot Rod Charlie is well posted to use his natural speed and tactical ability to secure good position and clear running. His win in the one mile and three-sixteenths Louisiana Derby was impressive. (8) Medina Spirit will be supported because of trainer Bob Baffert and jockey John Velazquez. This colt does not, however, have near the talent of Baffert’s recent Derby and Triple Crown Winners. (7) Mandaloun‘s defeat in the Louisiana Derby might be a sign he has peaked. (6) O Besos closed powerfully from the rear in that Louisiana Derby, and a repeat puts him in the mix. (11) Dynamic One, also trained by Pletcher, did everything but win the Wood Memorial when jockey Jose Ortiz did not see closing winner (20) Bourbonic rallying to his outside.
So, I have knocks against the 1st and 5th morning linemakers choices. That leaves me with (9) Hot Rod Charlie, (16) Rock Your World, (11) Dynamic One, (6) O Besos, and (1) Known Agenda as my “key” horses, with questions surrounding both (8) Medina Spirit and (7) Mandaloun.
Statistics support the winner emerging from the first 7-8 public betting choices. Start with Morning Line odds. Then follow “live” odds, which will not change much from start to finish. Stick with the first 7-8 choices and you will most likely find the winner. But stats are predictors, not determiners. And Derby winners Victory Gallup, Thunder Gulch, Giacomo and Mine That Bird were among the longest odds when they won their Kentucky Derby.
Kentucky Derby Fun Facts
147th running at Churchill Downs Racetrack Louisville, KY
30K - Number of attendees expected for the 2021 Kentucky Derby (half capacity due to COVID-19). Plenty will also view from home; 8.3M people watched the race on TV last year.
$126M - Total amount wagered on the 2020 Kentucky Derby (50% less than in 2019).
$805M - Sales of thoroughbred horses in 2020
(down 26% from 2019).
$3M - Kentucky Derby purse guaranteed by Churchill Downs Racetrack
$200K - Estimated value of the
Kentucky Derby Trophy
$350K - 2018 auction price of 2020 Kentucky Derby champ, Authentic
$1.86M - The winner's share in 2021
$1.2M - Won on a $18 bet on a series of races in 2018 (second largest in Derby history!)
90% - Of female attendees wear a hat to the Kentucky Derby. High-end Derby hats cost $500-1,000 and can take up to 7 days to make. The most expensive Derby hat cost $3M!
120K - Mint Juleps are served during the Kentucky Derby weekend.
$3.4B - Horse racingís economic impact on Kentucky
$2.7M - Raised for charity by the Kentucky Derby Festival Foundation since 2005
1875 - Year of the first Kentucky Derby making it the oldest continuously held major sporting event in the U.S.
400+ - Red roses are used to create the winner blankets; a tradition since 1896
1:59:40 - The fastest finish time in Kentucky Derby history by Secretariat in 1973
15 - Age of the youngest jockeys to win the Derby: Alonzo Clayton (1892) and James Perkins (1895). The oldest winning jockey was age 54: Bill Shoemaker (1986).