Leading Contenders For The 2021 Kentucky Derby

Written By Fairway Jay on May 1, 2021 - Last Updated on April 4, 2023

The 147th running of the Kentucky Derby is Saturday, May 1, and outside of the top favorites Essential Quality, Rock Your World and Known Agenda, there are some solid leading contenders to consider in your win wagers and vertical bets. And if you bet at TVG as a new customer, you can get a bonus bet.

The 2021 Kentucky Derby field and odds will create big betting pools beyond just win, place and show betting.

Kentucky Derby leading contenders

Looking at the TwinSpires Edge speed ratings report, you’ll see improved speed figures for the leading contenders, including top triple-digit figures for Highly Motivated. Consider these contenders as you watch and wager on the 2021 Kentucky Derby.

Hot Rod Charlie (8-1): The front-running Louisiana Derby winner has hit the board in four straight starts, including runner-up behind Essential Quality in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile in November, His 99 Beyer Speed Figure is tied for second-best in the field, and he fits the profile and speed criteria as a leading contender who can take down the favorites in the Kentucky Derby.

Highly Motivated (10-1): He’s a well-bred son of Into Mischief, who sired last year’s Kentucky Derby winner Authentic. Highly Motivated has hit triple-digit speed figures in three straight races, including when setting the pace and coming up just short in second behind Essential Quality in the Blue Grass Stakes. His final 3-furlong time was solid, and a softer pace in the Derby will allow him to settle more along the front. If he does, he should have enough energy to finish strong and be right in the mix to pull the upset or hit the board again for a solid vertical wager payoff.

Medina Spirit (15-1): The Bob Baffert-trained colt has two wins and three runner-up finishes in five starts. That includes in the Santa Anita Derby, where he was the prohibitive 4-5 favorite but finished well behind winner Rock Your World. Medina Spirit has run in four straight graded stakes races, the last three at 3-1 odds or less, including twice as favorite. He’s best running on the front end and will make his second start going 1 1/8 miles or longer.

Dynamic One (20-1): He showed his high-priced potential in his last two races, including when leading in the stretch in the Wood Memorial before getting caught in the shadow of the wire. He was bred to go longer by 2012 Belmont Stakes winner Union Rags.

Midnight Bourbon (20-1): He’s a well-bred son of Tiznow, and Midnight Bourbon has finished in the money in five straight graded stakes races. He came home in solid time to finish second in the Louisiana Derby.

O Besos (20-1): His best finish is third in a pair of graded stakes races, but he was making up ground in the Louisiana Derby while coming home in good time his final 3 furlongs to hit the board.

Types of bets and how to bet the Kentucky Derby

Legal online horse betting is available in more than 30 states, and “the most exciting two minutes in sports” is the most-bet horse race in America.

The 2021 Kentucky Derby will be televised Saturday, May 1, by NBC Sports at 12:30 to 2:30 p.m. EST, and on NBC from 2:30 to 7:30 p.m. EST. The Kentucky Derby, presented by Woodford Reserve, is Race 12, with post time at 6:57 p.m. EST and riders mounting their horses at 6:30.

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Fairway Jay

FairwayJay is a leading national sports and betting analyst and provides insight and information you can bet on to engage and assist the avid fan. His tee-to-green coverage and racing contributions have been provided to Churchill Downs, Twinspires, TVG, Forbes, TheLines, numberFire and PlayUSA platforms. Follow on Twitter: @FairwayJay

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