Kentucky Derby odds, expert picks 2021: Essential Quality, Rock Your World, Known Agenda predictions


The most prestigious horse race in North America returns to its rightful spot in the spring on Saturday, May 1. The 147th Run for the Roses will take place from Churchill Downs with an expected crowd of 45,000 fans, giving it an attendance that will be among the largest for any event since the coronavirus pandemic began. The 2021 Kentucky Derby will provide some sense of normality, as 20 horses will square off over 1 1/4 miles for the $3 million prize pool.

The 2021 Kentucky Derby odds for Essential Quality were boosted to 2-1 when he drew the No. 14 post, but the colt will have plenty of competition. Other 2021 Kentucky Derby contenders include the undefeated Rock Your World (5-1) and Highly Motivated (10-1), who won the Florida Derby. With so much to consider, you’ll want to see what SportsLine’s Jody Demling has to say before entering any 2021 Kentucky Derby picks and predictions of your own.

A fixture in the horse racing world who has been writing about, talking about and betting on races for years, Demling enters the 2021 Kentucky Derby after a major heater in 2020: At one point last year, he picked the winners of six straight races: the Saudi Cup, Gotham Stakes, Rebel Stakes, Louisiana Derby, Florida Derby and Belmont Stakes.

This is the same handicapper who hit the Derby-Oaks double at Churchill Downs nine times in the last 12 years. That means he held a ticket with the winners of both the Kentucky Oaks and Kentucky Derby all but three times in his last 12 tries.

He opened last season’s Triple Crown schedule on a heater too. At last year’s Belmont, Demling said Tiz the Law was clearly the class of the field, and Barclay Tagg’s horse pulled away for a convincing 3 3/4-length victory. Anyone who has followed him is up huge.

Now, with the 2021 Kentucky Derby lineup set, Demling is sharing his picks and predictions at SportsLine. Go here to see them.

Top 2021 Kentucky Derby predictions

One shocker: Demling is fading Known Agenda, even though he is one of the top favorites. In fact, Demling says Known Agenda doesn’t even hit the board. Trainer Todd Pletcher won his sixth Florida Derby, with Known Agenda crossing the line 2 3/4 lengths in front of Soup and Sandwich at Gulfstream Park. It was his second race in a row winning with blinkers on, but there were reasons for concern even in the impressive Florida Derby win.

Jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. was able to come from the middle to shoot a gap and make a break for the line in the final turn, but as he eased by Soup and Sandwich, he wound up drifting well wide in the final straight. Stuck on the inside after drawing the No. 1 post in the 2021 Kentucky Derby lineup, that width that he appeared to require to finish at Gulfstream Park could be hard to find.

Demling has locked in his 2021 Kentucky Derby picks for Rock Your World, who is among the favorites at 5-1. The horse didn’t race last year as a two-year-old, but he’s won all three of his starts this year, including the Santa Anita Derby earlier this month. Despite drawing an inside post position, he was able to take an early lead, avoided traffic, and won by 4 1/4 lengths.

Rock Your World will be ridden by jockey Joel Rosario, a veteran of Churchill Downs who rode Orb to victory at the 2013 Kentucky Derby. Trainer John Sadler also has Derby experience, although not the same success as Rosario, as his best finish is sixth place in four tries at the Kentucky Derby. On Saturday, Rock Your World will take off from the No. 15 post, which has produced six Derby winners including Authentic a year ago.

Essential Quality (2-1) enters Saturday as the favorite after winning his first five starts. He broke his maiden at Churchill Downs last September before winning the Breeders’ Futurity and then the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile as a two-year-old. Then as a three-year-old, he won the Southwest Stakes at Oaklawn Park and the Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland.

Highly Motivated gave him a serious run for his money in that final run at Keeneland and the pace of that race didn’t seem to work in his favor. Could Essential Quality move too far forward coming from the No. 14 post, which has only produced two Derby winners? It’s a valid concern given that he’s the only horse with odds of better than 5-1.

How to make 2021 Kentucky Derby picks, bets

Demling has projected exactly where Essential Quality and Rock Your World will finish in his 2021 Kentucky Derby leaderboard. He is also high on a double-digit long shot who “has looked amazing” while training. Before you make any Kentucky Derby 2021 picks, be sure to see who it is exclusively over at SportsLine.

Which horse wins the Kentucky Derby 2021? And which double-digit long shot should you bet now? Check out the latest 2021 Kentucky Derby odds below, then visit SportsLine to see Demling’s picks for the Kentucky Derby.

2021 Kentucky Derby odds, post positions

Program # Horse Odds
1 Known Agenda 6-1
2 Like the King 50-1
3 Brooklyn Strong 50-1
4 Keepmeinmind 50-1
5 Sainthood 50-1
6 O Besos 20-1
7 Mandaloun 15-1
8 Medina Spirit 15-1
9 Hot Rod Charlie 8-1
10 Midnight Bourbon 20-1
11 Dynamic One 20-1
12 Helium 50-1
13 Hidden Stash 50-1
14 Essential Quality 2-1
15 Rock Your World 5-1
16 King Fury 20-1
17 Highly Motivated 10-1
18 Super Stock 30-1
19 Soup and Sandwich 30-1
20 Bourbonic 30-1

More to track…

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