2021 Kentucky Derby Betting Sites, Horses & Previews

Kentucky Derby Betting Guide 2021

The Kentucky Derby seems to have barely skipped a beat a year after it was unceremoniously uprooted.

The 147th running of the world’s most famous horse race is back on its rightful roost on the first Saturday in May 2021, a year after being booted to September by the COVID-19 pandemic and then run with no fans present.

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And with a full field of 20 horses expected for the 1 ¼-mile race for 3-year-olds, gamblers around the world will again pour money into the huge betting pools. Many will miss, but a relative few will likely experience the kind of scores that just aren’t achievable in other races.

AmericanGambler.com will provide a detailed Kentucky Derby 2021 handicap, suggested wagers, predictions and information on riding assignments, horses, betting odds and much more in the week before the race. Be sure to check back ahead of the event that is deservedly known as “the fastest two minutes in sports.”

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Kentucky Derby 2021 Predictions & Picks

You can count on it as surely as you can predict that mint juleps will flow among the fans in the grandstand and the infield. Churchill Downs says it is operating under the assumption that it will be able to fill 40 percent to 50 percent of its reserved seats as well as a “limited number” of general admission tickets for the infield.  

How to watch the Derby

Fear not if you aren’t one of them. The Derby is one of the most widely disseminated races in the world.

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NBC Sports will broadcast it in the U.S., with coverage of the undercard on the NBC Sports Network 12:30 to 2:30 p.m. ET, shifting to NBC from 2:30 to 7:30. Post time for the Run for the Roses is set for 6:57 p.m. ET.

Nor is it too hard to get a bet down if you’re a resident of the 37 states that allow parimutuel wagering or have an online wagering account, whether sanctioned or not.  Betting on the race and the stakes-studded undercard also will be available at almost every track and simulcast site and on online advance deposit wagering sites.

The lineup of 20 horses is still being finalized, but we’re beginning to get a decent sense of the field.  See below for a chart of the top speed figures earned by each likely starter. And check back in the week before the race to get our detailed final handicap with post position, pace scenario and individual matchups factored in.

In the meantime, here are some early observations to help you get your head in the game.

Kentucky Derby Horses 2021

Essential Quality horse
Essential Quality is an undefeated American Thoroughbred racehorse
  • Essential Quality will be the post time favorite, barring some great misfortune descending on his stall. The 2-year-old Eclipse champion has yet to lose in five starts, including the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, and is likely to close at 5-2 or thereabouts, the final half-point attributable to the fact that trainer Brad Cox is a Louisville native.
Known Agenda horse kentucky derby
Known Agenda is an American Thoroughbred racehorse, famous for winning the Florida Derby 2021.
  • After that it gets a little murky. I think Known Agenda could end up as the second choice, maybe as low as 4-1
  • With Rock Your World right in there around 5-1.
  • Concert Tour, Highly Motivated, Hot Rod Charlie, Medina Spirit and Super Stock also seem likely to draw considerable support.

There also are horses outside that inner circle that you wouldn’t want to throw out, so we’re definitely taking about the wide-open sort of Derby where you can take some shots and potentially make a big score.

More TK, as they used to say in the wire service days.

  • It’s not really possible to do a detailed pace analysis at this point, but at first blush it sure looks like the early fractions will be quick, with Caddo River, Concert Tour, Hot Rod Charlie, Medina Spirit, Midnight Bourbon and Soup and Sandwich all among those who could be on or just off the lead.
  • If that happens, you’re going to want to back a horse that can finish well.  Courtesy of VSIN’s Ron Flatter I can tell you that four horses have run the final 3 furlongs of their career-best races in under 37 seconds — Essential Quality, Highly Motivated, Known Agenda and Rombauer.
  • Many bettors will make their Derby 2021 betting decisions based on commercial speed figures. I don’t recommend it, but at least know that there are many differences in how the various services view individual Kentucky Derby 2021 races:

Derby points

Horse

Beyer

Brisnet

Equibase

Timeform US

Race Earned

140

Essential Quality

97

101

109

118

Blue Grass Stakes

110

Hot Rod Charlie

99

100

99

117

Louisiana Derby

109

Super Stock

92

97

106

116

Arkansas Derby

104

Like the King

86

91

95

110

Jeff Ruby Steaks

102

Known Agenda

94

94

112

113

Florida Derby

100

Rock Your World

100

92

103

124

Santa Anita Derby

100

Bourbonic

89

89

100

104

Wood Memorial

74

Medina Spirit

99

97

98

120

San Felipe Stakes

70

Concert Tour

94

97

105

116

Rebel Stakes

66

Midnight Bourbon

96

98

99

114

Louisiana Derby/Lecomte Stakes*

52

Mandaloun

98

100

97

113

Risen Star Stakes

50

Caddo River

92

95

102

117

Arkansas Derby

50

Highly Motivated

96

102

108

118

Blue Grass Stakes

50

Helium

84

93

94

109

Tampa Bay Derby

40

Soup and Sandwich

90

98

108

112

Florida Derby

40

Dynamic One

89

95

100

106

Wood Memorial

40

Crowded Trade

N/A

92

98

103

Wood Memorial

40

Sainthood

86

91

93

111

Jeff Ruby Steaks

34

Rombauer

88

96

100

111

Blue Grass Stakes

32

Hidden Stash

83

93

94

106

Blue Grass Stakes

 

Best figure earned as 3-year-old around two turns

* rated off different races

   

The smoke should clear over the next week or two, as the lineup firms up and riders are secured. The field will be set in stone – except for the possibility of late scratches — at the post position draw at Churchill Downs on Tuesday, April 27.

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