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2021 Kentucky Derby Rankings


Apr 06, 2021 EST


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Kentucky Derby BETTING ANALYSIS

1) RISK TAKING (10)

  • Trainer: Chad Brown
  • Jockey: Eric Cancel

He’ll easily be facing the toughest group he’s had to when he takes on eight rivals in the Wood Memorial at Aqueduct on Saturday. He comes in off of five works since winning the Withers nearly two months ago while spending the entire up in New York. He figures to get an honest pace and a test in the minds of many as Prevalence will be in the gate with him. That should be his biggest worry. I can’t remember two horses who’ve improved their position on the Derby Trail while not doing anything more than him and Essential Quality. At least in my mind.

2) ESSENTIAL QUALITY (40)

  • Trainer: Brad Cox
  • Jockey: Luis Saez

He’s been installed as the 3-5 morning line favorite for the Blue Grass on Saturday at Keeneland, a course over which he’s already won a pair of G1 races, including the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. He closed from far back when the pace was fast, from mid-pack when it was moderate and from just off of it when it was sensible. That versatility figure to come in handy when you consider the fact that he could very well be in front early on Saturday. The race, literally and figuratively, goes through the champ.

3) GREATEST HONOUR (80)

  • Trainer: Shug McGaughey
  • Jockey: Jose Ortiz

To say the Florida Derby did not go as his connections planned would be an understatement. At no point in the nine furlong event did he look like a winner. In his defense, he spent more than half the race along the inside just one race after it appeared the last place he wanted to be was inside or amongst horses. Now it appears that adding blinkers is in play for the Derby. Now, it’s Shug but I am still not a fan of making an equipment change for THE most important race of a horse’s career. I wouldn’t be surprised if he rebounds and runs well in the Derby but it would not stun me if his speed figures have been spot-on all along and, despite his pedigree to love the added ground, he’s just simply not fast enough.

4) ROMBAUER (14)

  • Trainer: Mike McCarthy
  • Jockey: Florent Geroux

For weeks it looked like he’d run in the Santa Anita Derby or Wood Memorial on Saturday so you can imagine how surprising it was to see him in the Blue Grass field. He has only two dirt races and one of them did come in the Juvenile but his connections cannot be happy about the pace scenario on Saturday. He’s going to need to come up with the race of his life to even get a piece and that doesn’t bode well since a third-place finish might still be cutting it close regarding Derby points.

5) HIGHLY MOTIVATED (10)

  • Trainer: Chad Brown
  • Jockey: Javier Castellano

The risk you run when getting a late start to your sophomore season while still in need of Derby points is you find yourself in a precarious position in your lone shot to make the gate, one he could possibly be in on Saturday in the Blue Grass. There is NO speed in the race. Zero. On paper, he’s the only other horse other than Essential Quality who can make the lead. So, your options are trying to take them gate-to-wire for the first time in your career while also making your first start around two turns or giving up the lead to the undefeated juvenile champion. It’s an interesting decision. As speed crazy as I am, I’d rate him with the notion of getting enough points to make the Derby but I think Castellano will put him on the lead.

6) MANDALOUN (52)

  • Trainer: Brad Cox
  • Jockey: Florent Geroux

It appears as if the Lexington plan has been scrapped and he’ll go straight to the Derby off what could be considered the most puzzling performance of the Triple Crown Trail when he no-showed in the Louisiana Derby. The last time a Derby winner finished out of the top four finishers in his final prep was 65 years ago. He’ll be bucking some history should he wear the roses on May 1.

7) KNOWN AGENDA (102)

  • Trainer: Todd Pletcher
  • Jockey: Irad Ortiz, Jr.

When I decided to remove Collaborate from the “Seven” after his Florida Derby performance I had no idea who I was going to replace him with. This horse is now perfect in two starts with the blinkers and at the very least should handle the distance. I don’t like how he drifted through the stretch. He’ll need to improve to have a chance in Louisville.

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