2021 Kentucky Derby Odds: Early Picks, Leans, Storylines For The Run For The Roses

An early look at everything you need to know about the 2021 Kentucky Derby
Andrew Champagne
Sun, April 25, 7:14 AM EDT

2021 Kentucky Derby Odds: Early Picks, Leans, Storylines For The Run For The Roses

We’re less than a week away from the 2021 Kentucky Derby! The Run for the Roses will return to its traditional spot on the calendar, the first Saturday in May, after being run in the fall last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. With one of racing’s biggest days fast approaching, here’s a look at some storylines to follow.

The Last Favorite Standing

ESSENTIAL QUALITY was last year’s Champion 2-Year-Old Male, and he’ll be a pretty heavy favorite in the Derby after a pair of wins to start his 3-year-old season. However, he was far from alone near the top of his class earlier this year. Impressive prep winners Life Is Good, Concert Tour, and Greatest Honour were all highly-regarded, but each member of that trio has been taken off the Derby trail.

With that in mind, Essential Quality has emerged as the one to beat. Betting favorites prevailed in the Derby every year from 2013 through 2018, and the 2019 chalk, Maximum Security, crossed the wire first before being disqualified.

The Logical Threats

KNOWN AGENDA, ROCK YOUR WORLD, and HOT ROD CHARLIE stormed onto the scene with wins in important prep races just a few weeks ago, and they’ll all likely take money ahead of the Derby. Known Agenda upset Greatest Honour in the Florida Derby, Rock Your World wired the field in the Santa Anita Derby, and Hot Rod Charlie, who was eligible for a first-level allowance race prior to the Louisiana Derby, cleared that condition by winning that race.

Jockey Musical Chairs

One of the most fascinating stories leading up to the Derby revolved around jockey Joel Rosario. Here’s what happened: Rosario was the regular rider for Concert Tour, who was heavily favored to win the Arkansas Derby. After a disappointing third-place finish, Concert Tour’s connections took their time deciding whether or not to aim for the Kentucky Derby.

This put Rosario in a tight spot, as he was also the rider of Hot Rod Charlie. While Concert Tour’s status was in limbo, Hot Rod Charlie’s connections locked in Flavien Prat for the big race. Concert Tour was then pointed to the Preakness, and Rosario appeared out of luck. However, he has a longstanding relationship with John Sadler, trainer of Rock Your World. Sadler made the decision to replace Santa Anita Derby pilot Umberto Rispoli with Rosario, who will be aboard when the Kentucky Derby field goes to the gate.

Handicapping Opportunities Abound

This week isn’t just about the Derby. As tempting as that race is (and it’s tantalizing, especially if you think Essential Quality is beatable), this entire week at Churchill Downs acts as a celebration of top-tier thoroughbred racing. Terrific betting races will be up and down cards all week long, and counting the Derby, 17 stakes races will be run between Tuesday and Saturday.

I’ll have you covered with analysis of Pick Four sequences Friday and Saturday here on Oddschecker US, as well as an in-depth Derby preview following Tuesday’s draw that will include picks and potential betting strategies. Should you be so inclined, I’ll also have full-card analysis with picks for every race Thursday, Friday, and Saturday on my personal site, AndrewChampagne.com. I’m excited to dive in, and hopefully we can make some money together!

2021 Kentucky Derby Odds

Horse Kentucky Derby Odds
Essential Quality +225
Concert Tour +500
Rock Your World +500
Highly Motivated +800
Hotrod Charlie +900
Superstock +1200
Bourbonic +1400
Andrew Champagne
AndrewChampagne
Andrew Champagne is a horse racing handicapper with a specialism in juveniles. One thing is for certain, Champagne gets the party started.
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