The 2021 Kentucky Derby returns to the first Saturday in May at Churchill Downs in Louisville. This year’s field is packed with the best three-year old Thoroughbreds in this year’s class.
As the Crown Jewel of the Triple Crown racing series, this is the first and most exciting step towards winning one of the most elusive titles in all sports. There is a reason why the Kentucky Derby is often times referred to as the most exciting two minutes in sports.
Anything can happen when 20 different horses leave the starting gate at the same time. The starting post position can be a major factor as well as track conditions on the dirt at Churchill. However, the ‘best of the best’ usually find a way to separate themselves from the rest of field over the course of 1¼ miles.
Breaking down this year’s field, I have narrowed the list to my top four colts in Saturday’s field. I will use these four colts in three different exotic bets starting with the exacta for a top two finish. A trifecta expands this bet to the top three with the superfecta covering the first four contenders to cross the finish line.
2021 Kentucky Derby Exacta Picks
This year’s Kentucky Derby field is deep in talent halfway though the 20-horse entry list. However, the two contenders that have caught my eye throughout the recent prep race season are Essential Quality as my favorite and Hot Rod Charlie as my top choice to place second.
Trained by Brad Cox, Essential Quality was a champion two-year old with victories in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Futurity and the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. He has won his first two races this year with victories in the Grade 3 Southwest Stakes at Oaklawn followed by a first place finish in the Grade 2 Bluegrass Stakes at Keeneland.
Sired by Tapit, this Kentucky-bred colt has yet to lose a race in five previous starts. He is the best horse in this year’s Kentucky Derby field and I think that will bear itself out late Saturday afternoon.
My second choice is another three-year old Kentucky-bred colt. Hot Rod Charlie is trained by Doug O’Neill as a sire of Oxbow. After a shaky start to his racing career with three runs out of the money in Maiden Special Weight events, he came into his own with a second-place finish in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at longer odds.
Starting his three-year old campaign with a third-place run in the Grade 3 Robert B. Lewis at Santa Anita in late January, he once again demonstrated his championship pedigree by winning the Grade 2 Louisiana Derby at Fair Grounds on March 20 against a strong field.
Hot Rod Charlie’s stock has been rising with futures bettors ever since. I am staying on that bandwagon for the Kentucky Derby with this exacta play.
2021 Kentucky Derby Trifecta Picks
Finding a suitable colt to fill the Show position in this race is a tall task given the list of choices. I have settled in with trainer Todd Pletcher’s Known Agenda coming off an impressive win in this year’s Grade 1 Florida Derby at Gulfstream Park on March 27.
I love this three-year old colt’s pedigree as the son of Curlin. I also believe that Pletcher is due for another strong finish in the Kentucky Derby after winning this race twice before in his stellar career. Known Agenda has finished in the money in five of six career events.
2021 Kentucky Derby Superfecta Picks
If you are looking to extend your bet to the top four horses in this race, I would put Super Stock in the No. 4 position. Trained by Steve Asmussen, the son of Dialed In accumulated the third- most qualifying points for this race with his recent upset victory in the Grade 1 Arkansas Derby at Oaklawn Park on April 10.
With that victory, he has placed fourth or higher in his previous seven starts going back to last August as a two-year old.
2021 Kentucky Derby Exotic Bets
Exacta: Essential Quality & Hot Rod Charlie
Trifecta: Essential Quality, Hot Rod Charlie & Known Agenda
Superfecta: Essential Quality, Hot Rod Charlie, Known Agenda & Super Stock