October 26, 2021

Get to know the 2021 Kentucky Derby contenders

Essential Quality
Essential Quality wins the Blue Grass Stakes (Photo by Coady Photography)

***Updated after the draw with post positions and morning-line odds

With the scoring races completed and the leaderboard finalized, the field for the 147th Kentucky Derby (G1) is set.

Unbeaten champion Essential Quality ranks as the early favorite as well as the leader in points. A series of upsets in recent preps has scrambled the picture, though, suggesting that up-and-comers could challenge the established star and make for a wide-open Derby.

Here are the contenders for the May 1 Run for the Roses, listed in points order. For horses with the same points total, ranking is determined by non-restricted stakes earnings.

ESSENTIAL QUALITY (140 points), post 14, 2-1

Last year’s champion two-year-old male after winning the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1), the tactically versatile colt has stayed perfect this season with victories in the Southwest (G3) and Blue Grass (G2).

Owner: Godolphin; Trainer: Brad Cox; Jockey: Luis Saez

Pedigree: Tapit-Delightful Quality, by Elusive Quality

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HOT ROD CHARLIE (110 points), post 9, 8-1

Breeders’ Cup Juvenile runner-up punched his ticket with a front-running score in the Louisiana Derby (G2) in track-record time at Fair Grounds.

Owners: Roadrunner Racing, Boat Racing & Strauss Bros Racing; Trainer: Doug O’Neill; Jockey: Flavien Prat

Pedigree: Oxbow-Indian Miss, by Indian Charlie

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SUPER STOCK (109 points), post 18, 30-1

Hitherto fringe player jumped up with a career-best performance in a 12-1 Arkansas Derby (G1) upset.

Owners: Erv Woolsey and Keith Asmussen; Trainer: Steve Asmussen; Ricardo Santana

Pedigree: Dialed In-Super Girlie, by Closing Argument

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LIKE THE KING (104 points), post 2, 50-1

Jeff Ruby Steaks (G3) winner over Turfway’s Tapeta surface faces the dirt question.

Owner: M Racing Group; Trainer: Wesley Ward; Jockey: Drayden Van Dyke

Pedigree: Palace Malice-Like a Queen, by Corinthian

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KNOWN AGENDA (102 points), post 1, 6-1

Florida Derby (G1) romper is 2-for-2 since adding blinkers.

Owner: St. Elias Stable; Trainer: Todd Pletcher; Jockey: Irad Ortiz

Pedigree: Curlin-Byrama, by Byron

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ROCK YOUR WORLD (100 points), post 15, 5-1

Unbeaten colt switched from turf to dirt to wire the Santa Anita Derby (G1).

Owners: Hronis Racing & Talla Racing; Trainer: John Sadler; Jockey: Joel Rosario

Pedigree: Candy Ride-Charm the Maker, by Empire Maker

More on Rock Your World

BOURBONIC (100 points), post 20, 30-1

Closer got up at odds of 72-1 in the biggest upset in Wood Memorial (G2) history.

Owner: Calumet Farm; Trainer: Todd Pletcher; Jockey: Kendrick Carmouche

Pedigree: Bernardini-Dancing Afleet, by Afleet Alex

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MEDINA SPIRIT (74 points), post 8, 15-1

Gutsy Robert B. Lewis (G3) winner has since placed second in both the San Felipe (G2) and Santa Anita Derby.

Owner: Zedan Racing Stables; Trainer: Bob Baffert; Jockey: John Velazquez

Pedigree: Protonico-Mongolian Changa, by Brilliant Speed

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MIDNIGHT BOURBON (66 points), post 10, 20-1

Lecomte (G3) winner went on to place in the Risen Star (G2) and Louisiana Derby.

Owner: Winchell Thoroughbreds; Trainer: Steve Asmussen; Jockey: Mike Smith

Pedigree: Tiznow-Catch the Moon, by Malibu Moon

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MANDALOUN (52 points), post 7, 15-1

Risen Star hero comes off a perplexingly dull sixth in the Louisiana Derby.

Owner: Juddmonte Farms; Trainer: Brad Cox; Jockey: Florent Geroux

Pedigree: Into Mischief-Brooch, by Empire Maker

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HIGHLY MOTIVATED (50 points), post 17, 10-1

Keeneland track record-setter nearly wired the Blue Grass in his two-turn debut.

Owner: Klaravich Stables; Trainer: Chad Brown; Jockey: Javier Castellano

Pedigree: Into Mischief-Strong Incentive, by Warrior’s Reward

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HELIUM (50 points), post 12, 50-1

Tampa Bay Derby (G2) winner is 3-for-3 but attempting Derby off two-month freshening.

Owner: D J Stable; Trainer: Mark Casse; Jockey: Julien Leparoux

Pedigree: Ironicus-Thundering Emilia, by Thunder Gulch

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SOUP AND SANDWICH (40 points), post 19, 30-1

Florida Derby pacesetter held for a clear second in his stakes debut.

Owner: Live Oak Plantation; Trainer: Mark Casse; Jockey: Tyler Gaffalione

Pedigree: Into Mischief-Souper Scoop, by Tapit

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DYNAMIC ONE (40 points), post 11, 20-1

Wood Memorial runner-up was just nailed by a head after a wide trip.

Owners: Repole Stable, Phipps Stable & St. Elias Stable; Trainer: Todd Pletcher; Jockey: Jose Ortiz

Pedigree: Union Rags-Beat the Drums, by Smart Strike

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SAINTHOOD (40 points), post 5, 50-1

Jeff Ruby Steaks runner-up could have gone closer if not for a troubled trip.

Owners: WinStar Farm & CHC; Trainer: Todd Pletcher; Jockey: Corey Lanerie

Pedigree: Mshawish-Lemon Hero, by Lemon Drop Kid

More on Sainthood

HIDDEN STASH (32 points), post 13, 50-1

Tampa Bay Derby runner-up was most recently fourth in the Blue Grass.

Owner: BBN Racing; Trainer: Vicki Oliver; Jockey: Rafael Bejarano

Pedigree: Constitution-Making Mark Money, by Smart Strike

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O BESOS (25 points), post 6, 20-1

Hard-charging third in Louisiana Derby was improving from a fourth in the Risen Star.

Owners: L. Barrett Bernard, Tagg Team Racing & West Point Thoroughbreds; Trainer: Greg Foley; Jockey: Marcelino Pedroza

Pedigree: Orb-Snuggs and Kisses, by Soto

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KING FURY (20 points), post 16, 20-1

$950,000 yearling took a big step forward to upset the Lexington (G3) in his sophomore debut.

Owners: Fern Circle Stables & Three Chimneys Farm; Trainer: Ken McPeek; Jockey: Brian Hernandez

Pedigree: Curlin-Taris, by Flatter

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KEEPMEINMIND (18 points), post 4, 50-1

Kentucky Jockey Club (G2) winner and Breeders’ Cup Juvenile third has been unplaced in both starts this season, the Rebel and Blue Grass.

Owners: Spendthrift Farm, Cypress Creek & Arnold Bennewith; Trainer: Robertino Diodoro; Jockey: David Cohen

Pedigree: Laoban-Inclination, by Victory Gallop

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BROOKLYN STRONG (10 points), post 3, 50-1

Remsen (G2) hero finished fifth in his belated comeback in the Wood Memorial.

Owner: Mark Schwartz; Trainer: Danny Velazquez; Jockey: Umberto Rispoli

Pedigree: Wicked Strong-Riviera Chic, by Medaglia d’Oro

More on Brooklyn Strong