2021 Kentucky Derby Cheat Sheet

The following appeared on America’s Best Racing website and is a comprehensive list of the 20 Derby contenders that will battle on Saturday May 1 at Churchill Downs. There are plenty of places in Virginia to wager the annual “Run for the Roses. Betting is available at any VA-Horseplay Off Track Betting Center in Henrico (Breakers), Chesapeake (Buckets) and Collinsville (The Windmill), at any Rosie’s Gaming Emporium in Richmond, New Kent, Vinton, Hampton and Dumfries and online via TVG.com, Xpressbet.com, Twinspires.com and NYRABets.com. Post time for the big race is 6:57 PM.

After a year when many of the traditions accompanying North America’s most prestigious race were upended due to a global pandemic, the Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve is back on schedule for 2021 to the delight of horse racing fans of all persuasions.Click image to purchase shirt.

Although attendance at Churchill Downs will be limited and certain COVID-19 precautions will still be required, a sizable and festive crowd is expected to congregate under the racetrack’s iconic Twin Spires on the first Saturday in May, ready to celebrate what are hopefully the waning days of the pandemic by eating, drinking, socializing, and backing their favorite Derby contender at the betting windows.

Twenty 3-year-old Thoroughbreds who earned a spot in the 147th Kentucky Derby through a series of qualifying points races will square off in the 1 ¼-mile race, which has a scheduled post time of 6:57 p.m. ET on Saturday, May 1. The field for the $3 million, Grade 1 Kentucky Derby is led by probable favorite Essential Quality, the 2020 champion 2-year-old male who extended his career unbeaten streak to five with two more convincing wins earlier this year.   

America’s Best Racing has many resources to help fans new to the Kentucky Derby learn about the race’s rich historywhat to bring to the event, and how to bet on the horses. Our Triple Crown page also has profiles of all of the contenders, and follow ABR on social media (FacebookTwitterInstagram) for updates on the race in the days ahead plus photos and videos from our team on-site at Churchill Downs.

NBC Sports begins its Kentucky Derby coverage on NBCSN from 12:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. ET on May 1. The broadcast shifts to NBC from 2:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. ET. 

Whether you are interested in making a couple of bucks on the race or just want to know a little bit about this year’s runners, we’ve got you covered with our 2021 Kentucky Derby Cheat Sheet. 


Eclipse Sportswire

1. Known Agenda (6-1 morning-line odds)

Jockey: Irad Ortiz Jr.

Trainer: Todd Pletcher

Owner: St. Elias Stable

Career record: 6 starts – 3 wins – 1 second – 1 third

Career earnings: $541,700

Earnings per start: $90,283

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 112

Kentucky Derby points: 102

Pedigree: Curlin – Byrama, by Byron

Color: Chestnut

Running style: Stalker/closer

Notable achievements and interesting facts: Known Agenda is one of the main win candidates in the Kentucky Derby based on his connections and pedigree and especially the encouraging progress he’s made in two recent starts at Gulfstream Park. Highly regarded since the start of his career, this well-bred son of top sire Curlin disappointed in his first start as a 3-year-old when he finished fifth in the Sam F. Davis Stakes back in February. After that, trainer Todd Pletcher added blinkers to improve focus, and the colt responded with a blowout 11-length win in a Gulfstream Park allowance race on Feb. 26 followed by a 2 ¾-length score in the prestigious Curlin Florida Derby Presented by Hill ‘n’ Dale Farm at Xalapa on March 27. In both of those races, Known Agenda rated off of the early pace – but not too far off – and showed an impressive turn of foot to take command at the top of the stretch and pull away. That’s the sort of tactical running style that wins Kentucky Derbys and, although Essential Quality shares it, Known Agenda actually owns the highest Equibase Speed Figure in Saturday’s 20-horse field with the 112 he earned in the Florida Derby. Repeating that number should put him right in the mix when the final charge commences through Churchill Downs’ homestretch, and he’s a must-use for all exotic bets in the Derby. Drawing the rail post position is something all Derby trainers want to avoid, but one positive for Known Agenda in this year’s draw is that four 50-1 longshots are lined up to his immediate outside. Even so, Irad Ortiz Jr. will need to summon all of his considerable skills to find a good spot for his colt during the early scrum in order to give him a shot at the win. Derby History: Reigning Eclipse Award-winning jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. is 2-for-2 on Known Agenda and will be making his fourth Derby appearance. His best finish came in 2018 on fourth-place Improbable. Todd Pletcher, who is a finalist for the Racing Hall of Fame this year, has two Derby wins to his credit: Super Saver in 2010 and Always Dreaming in 2017. He’s also finished second twice (Invisible Ink, 2001 and Bluegrass Cat, 2006) and third four times from a record 55 overall starters in the Kentucky Derby. Owner Vincent Viola has also enjoyed prior Derby success as his St. Elias Stable was part-owner of Always Dreaming.


Eclipse Sportswire

2. Like the King (50-1)

Jockey: Drayden Van Dyke

Trainer: Wesley Ward

Owner: M Racing Group

Career record: 6 starts – 3 wins – 2 seconds – 1 third

Career earnings: $200,680

Earnings per start: $33,447

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 95

Kentucky Derby points: 104

Pedigree: Palace Malice – Like a Queen, by Corinthian

Color: Chestnut

Running style: Stalker

Notable achievements and interesting facts: Like the King earned all of his 104 Kentucky Derby qualifying points racing on a surface he won’t see the afternoon of May 1 at Churchill Downs, which makes him a longshot in the Kentucky Derby field. He has excelled competing on the Tapeta Footings synthetic main track at Turfway Park, winning a race there last December and then earlier this year finishing second in the John Battaglia Memorial Stakes and first in the Jeff Ruby Steaks on March 27. The latter win gave Like the King 100 Derby qualifying points and cinched his spot in the starting gate, and he overcame some traffic trouble on the far turn to kick clear late in a visually impressive performance. That said, he was well beaten in both of his starts on dirt as a juvenile, and his Equibase Speed Figures are a cut below the top Derby contenders. He does have a decent pedigree for the Derby’s taxing mile-and-a-quarter distance as a son of Belmont Stakes winner Palace Malice from a female family featuring a couple of stakes winners in turf route races. In the Jeff Ruby, he closed from a position farther back than normal to win, and repeating that strategy would probably give him the best chance to hit the board at long odds in the Derby. Derby History: This is the first Derby for Mickey Gonzalez’s M Racing Group and for trainer Wesley Ward. Young jockey Drayden Van Dyke makes his third Derby start; he finished fourth in 2018 on Instilled Regard.


Chelsea Durand/NYRA Photo

3. Brooklyn Strong (50-1)

Jockey: Umberto Rispoli

Trainer: Daniel Velazquez

Owner: Mark Schwartz

Career record: 5 starts – 3 wins – 0 seconds – 1 third

Career earnings: $225,000

Earnings per start: $45,000

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 99

Kentucky Derby points: 10

Pedigree: Wicked Strong – Riviera Chic, by Medaglia d’Oro

Color: Bay

Running style: Stalker

Notable achievements and interesting facts: The connections for this New York-bred gelding moved him into consideration for the Kentucky Derby on April 25 when Caddo River was withdrawn from the Top 20 leaderboard. Brooklyn Strong was one of last fall’s most impressive Derby prep winners and continues to have a strong fan following based on his modest sales price and Empire State background (he was purchased by owner Mark Schwartz for only $5,000 as a 2-year-old in spring 2020). Back in December, he jumped on the Derby futures market with a game neck win in the Remsen Stakes at Aqueduct, earning a 99 Equibase Speed Figure (Known Agenda was more than eight lengths back in third). After that, he was kept on the shelf for four months due to an illness and made his 3-year-old debut in the Wood Memorial Stakes Presented by Resorts World Casino. Brooklyn Strong stalked a slow pace in the Wood and churned on through the stretch to finish fifth, 4 ¾ lengths behind longshot winner and Derby foe Bourbonic, failing to earn any more Derby qualifying points. He’ll be one of the longest shots in the Derby field and will need to approach his Remsen effort and speed figure in his second start off the layoff to have any chance at hitting the board. Even with those odds, he’s certain to have an entire borough, if not the Big Apple itself, in his corner. Derby History: This will be the first Derby for Brooklyn native Mark Schwartz and trainer Danny Velazquez. It will also be the first Derby for jockey Umberto Rispoli, who began his career in his native Italy and has become a top rider on the California circuit.


Eclipse Sportswire

4. Keepmeinmind (50-1)

Jockey: David Cohen

Trainer: Robertino Diodoro

OwnersCypress Creek Equine, Arnold Bennewith, and Spendthrift Farm

Career record: 6 starts – 1 win – 2 seconds – 1 third

Career earnings: $424,987

Earnings per start: $70,831

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 98

Kentucky Derby points: 18      

Pedigree: Laoban – Inclination, by Victory Gallop

Color: Bay

Running style: Closer

Notable achievements and interesting facts: Keepmeinmind drew into the Kentucky Derby seven days before the race when Get Her Number was withdrawn from consideration. This colt’s connections have always had the run for the roses in their crosshairs. After a promising juvenile campaign when Keepmeinmind broke his maiden in the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes at Churchill Downs and hit the board in both the Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity (second) and the TVG Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Presented by Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance (third), such a goal seemed to be very achievable. As a 3-year-old, however, Keepmeinmind has regressed in two starts, finishing sixth by eight lengths in the Rebel Stakes and then fifth by 16 lengths behind Essential Quality in the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes. He did get bumped at the top of the stretch in the Blue Grass, but at that point was already out of contention – and overall, Keepmeinmind’s Equibase Speed Figures have stalled in the low 90s after topping out at 98 in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. He’s been training well at Churchill since the Blue Grass for Robertino Diodoro, whose hopes for a Derby shot have been rewarded. Look for this longshot to sit near the back of the field and make one late rally, as that’s the only running style he’s ever employed. He adds blinkers for the Kentucky Derby. Derby History: This is the first Kentucky Derby appearance for both Robertino Diodoro and jockey David Cohen. B. Wayne Hughes of Spendthrift Farm was part-owner of last year’s Derby winner Authentic.


Coady Photography

5. Sainthood (50-1)

Jockey: Corey Lanerie

Trainer: Todd Pletcher

Owners: China Horse Club International and WinStar Farm

Career record: 3 starts – 1 win – 2 seconds – 0 thirds

Career earnings: $91,900

Earnings per start: $30,633

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 93

Kentucky Derby points: 40

Pedigree: Mshawish – Lemon Hero, by Lemon Drop Kid

Color: Dark bay or brown

Running style: Press the pace/stalker

Notable achievements and interesting facts: Longshot Sainthood comes into Derby 147 with only three races on his résumé, all of them earlier this year. He has been competitive in all three, losing his career debut by a head, winning his second start by a nose, and then finishing second by a length to Like a King in the Jeff Ruby Steaks at Turfway Park after a troubled trip. In his win two starts back, Sainthood set a contested pace in a two-turn, 1 1/16-mile race at Gulfstream Park, while in his other two starts he sat in a stalking position. That versatility is a plus for running in the Kentucky Derby, but on the other hand, Sainthood has yet to post an Equibase Speed Figure higher than 93, and that figure came when racing on Turfway Park’s synthetic Tapeta Footings track in the Jeff Ruby. All in all, the Kentucky Derby shapes up as an incredibly tough assignment for a colt who clearly has talent but who concedes an experience and class advantage to nearly all of his competitors. Derby History: Sainthood will probably carry the highest odds of Todd Pletcher’s four Derby starters, the others being Known Agenda, Bourbonic, and Dynamic One. From 55 prior starters, Pletcher has two Derby wins (Super Saver in 2010 and Always Dreaming in 2017), two seconds (Invisible Ink, 2001 and Bluegrass Cat, 2006) and two thirds. WinStar Farm and China Horse Club co-owned 2018 Kentucky Derby winner (and Triple Crown winner) Justify and that year’s third-place Derby finisher Audible. WinStar also solely owned 2010 Derby winner Super Saver, 2006 runner-up Bluegrass Cat, and 2013 third-place finisher Revolutionary, and co-owned 2017 third-place finisher Battle of Midway with Don Alberto Stable. Kentucky-based jockey Corey Lanerie has made four prior Derby starts and finished second in 2017 aboard Lookin At Lee.


Coady Photography

6. O Besos (20-1)

Jockey: Marcelino Pedroza

Trainer: Greg Foley

Owners: Bernard Racing, Tagg Team Racing, and West Point Thoroughbreds

Career record: 5 starts – 2 wins – 0 seconds – 1 third

Career earnings: $172,624

Earnings per start: $34,525

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 96

Kentucky Derby points: 25

Pedigree: Orb – Snuggs and Kisses, by Soto

Color: Chestnut

Running style: Closer

Notable achievements and interesting facts: Among the Kentucky Derby longshots, O Besos profiles as one of the more interesting contenders. The son of 2013 Kentucky Derby winner Orb started his career at sprint distances last year and won two races at Fair Grounds by open lengths before his connections decided to join the Derby trail in the Risen Star Stakes Presented by Lamarque Ford. O Besos finished a well-beaten fourth in the Risen Star — his first start around two turns — but improved in the Twinspires.com Louisiana Derby, rallying through the stretch to check in a clear third behind Hot Rod Charlie and Midnight Bourbon. Those two horses were in front from start to finish in the Louisiana Derby, and O Besos nearly got past Midnight Bourbon with his late run, losing second by a head. Obviously, he’ll need a fast pace in the Kentucky Derby to set up his closing kick once again, and both of his Louisiana Derby vanquishers should be among the horses that determine the early fractions. If the pace is indeed swift and O Besos can nudge his 96 Equibase Speed Figure from the Louisiana Derby up a few more points, he could hit the board at hefty odds. Derby History: This will be the second Kentucky Derby for Louisville-based trainer Greg Foley (he debuted last year with 10th-place Major Fed) and the first for jockey Marcelino Pedroza. Terry Finley’s West Point Thoroughbreds co-owned 2017 Derby winner Always Dreaming and was the sole owner of 2014 runner-up Commanding Curve.


Eclipse Sportswire

7. Mandaloun (15-1)

Jockey: Florent Geroux

Trainer: Brad Cox

Owner: Juddmonte Farms

Career record: 5 starts – 3 wins – 0 seconds – 1 third

Career earnings: $361,252

Earnings per start: $72,250

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 97

Kentucky Derby points: 52

Pedigree: Into Mischief – Brooch, by Empire Maker

Color: Bay

Running style: Stalker

Notable achievements and interesting facts: Mandaloun is somewhat of a mystery horse in the Kentucky Derby, as he was highly rated by many analysts after showing improvement in his first two starts as a 3-year-old but then regressed in his final prep, all at Fair Grounds. He shook off some rust shown in the Lecomte Stakes, when he finished third behind Midnight Bourbon, to win the Risen Star Stakes Presented by Lamarque Ford by 1 ¼ lengths in mid-February. But in the Twinspires.com Louisiana Derby, Mandaloun was caught four wide in both turns and faded badly in the stretch to finish sixth after looming a threat. This well-bred son of Into Mischief has been favored in all five of his career starts, including a win last November at Churchill Downs, and he’s been training well at Brad Cox’s home base under the Twin Spires since his Louisiana Derby misfire. He’s a bounce-back candidate in the Kentucky Derby who should offer attractive odds, but Mandaloun will need to improve upon his Fair Grounds form significantly to have a shot at the upset. Derby History: Brad Cox brings favorite Essential Quality to his Derby debut along with Mandaloun. Jockey Florent Geroux has been aboard Mandaloun in each of his starts; he finished third in the 2016 Derby on Gun Runner. Juddmonte Farms has been a leading international owner for decades after it was founded by Khalid Abdullah, who died earlier this year. It has started five horses in the Kentucky Derby, finishing second in 2000 with Aptitude, second in 2003 with subsequent Belmont Stakes winner Empire Maker, and third in 2019 with Tacitus.


BENOIT photo

8. Medina Spirit (15-1)

Jockey: John Velazquez

Trainer: Bob Baffert

Owner: Zedan Racing Stables

Career record: 5 starts – 2 wins – 3 seconds – 0 thirds

Career earnings: $315,200

Earnings per start: $63,040

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 109

Kentucky Derby points: 74

Pedigree: Protonico – Mongolian Changa, by Brilliant Speed

Color: Dark bay or brown

Running style: Press the pace/stalker

Notable achievements and interesting facts: After spending the prior months as a member of Bob Baffert’s supporting cast of Kentucky Derby contenders behind Life Is GoodConcert Tour, and Spielberg, Medina Spirit ships to Louisville with a chance to step into the spotlight. This modestly-bred colt who was purchased by his owner for only $35,000 has amassed a solid record and bankroll with good efforts in four consecutive graded stakes dating back to January. He was second to Life Is Good in both the Sham Stakes and San Felipe Stakes and most recently to Rock Your World in the Runhappy Santa Anita Derby, and posted a game neck win in the Robert B. Lewis Stakes back on Jan. 30, a race in which Hot Rod Charlie was third in a photo finish. Medina Spirit is a hard-trying type who projects to be among a group of horses pressing the pace in the Derby, and the main concerns about him focus on distance (his top speed figures have dropped as he’s competed in longer races) and class. It would be a surprise to see this colt wearing the garland of roses around 7 p.m. May 1, but not at all to see his name on the tote board filling out the trifecta or superfecta. Derby History: Hall of Famer Bob Baffert has a chance to claim sole distinction as the all-time winningest Derby trainer this year, passing Ben Jones. His six prior wins came with Silver Charm (1997), Real Quiet (1998), War Emblem (2002), Triple Crown winner American Pharoah (2015), Triple Crown winner Justify (2018), and Authentic (2020). Baffert also has three runner-up Derby finishes (Cavonnier, 1996; Pioneerof the Nile, 2009; Bodemeister, 2012) and three third-place finishes. Fellow Hall of Famer John Velazquez rode Authentic last year for his third Derby win; his prior two came aboard Animal Kingdom in 2011 and Always Dreaming in 2017. Velazquez has also finished second twice in the Derby (Invisible Ink in 2001 and Code of Honor in 2019). Owner Amr Zedan is making his first appearance in the Derby.


Lou Hodges, Jr. /Hodges Photography

9. Hot Rod Charlie (8-1)

Jockey: Flavien Prat

Trainer: Doug O’Neill

Owners: Roadrunner Racing, Boat Racing, and William Strauss

Career record: 7 starts – 2 wins – 1 second – 2 thirds

Career earnings: $1,005,700

Earnings per start: $143,671

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 100

Kentucky Derby points: 110

Pedigree: Oxbow – Indian Miss, by Indian Charlie

Color: Dark bay or brown

Running style: Press the pace/stalker

Notable achievements and interesting facts: Hot Rod Charlie projects as a good middle-odds Derby contender based on the consistency he’s shown since permanently moving from turf to dirt last fall. He first gained attention by running second by three-quarters of a length to Essential Quality in the TVG Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Presented by Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance at gargantuan 94.40-1 odds. Then, after a winter break, he has been just as impressive in his two Derby preps, finishing third by a neck in the Robert B. Lewis Stakes at Santa Anita Park in January and then shipping to Fair Grounds and wiring the field in the Twinspires.com Louisiana Derby on March 20. This son of Preakness Stakes winner Oxbow has raced well when on the lead, pressing the pace, and stalking, and that versatility should serve him well on the Derby. He picks up a patient rider with good Derby form in Flavien Prat, and trainer Doug O’Neill’s credentials in this race are top-notch. Hot Rod Charlie should get a call at the top of Churchill Downs’ long homestretch on Derby day, and an upset win is not out of the question. Derby History: This is the first Kentucky Derby for Hot Rod Charlie’s ownership group. Flavien Prat will be making his fourth Derby start. He finished third in 2017 on Battle of Midway and then in 2019 was aboard 65.20-1 longshot Country House when that horse crossed the finish line second but was then elevated to first after Maximum Security was disqualified. Doug O’Neill has won two Kentucky Derbys in the past 10 years, with I’ll Have Another in 2012 and Nyquist in 2016.


Eclipse Sportswire

10. Midnight Bourbon (20-1)

Jockey: Mike Smith

Trainer: Steve Asmussen

Owner: Winchell Thoroughbreds

Career record: 7 starts – 2 wins – 2 seconds – 3 thirds

Career earnings: $461,420

Earnings per start: $65,917

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 99

Kentucky Derby points: 66

Pedigree: Tiznow – Catch the Moon, by Malibu Moon

Color: Bay

Running style: Press the pace

Notable achievements and interesting facts: Midnight Bourbon enters the Kentucky Derby as the picture of consistency this year — he hasn’t dazzled Derby watchers in any of his three stakes tries at Fair Grounds but he’s also fired every time. He should be one of several horses prominently placed early, as he won the Lecomte Stakes in January to kick off his 3-year-old season in wire-to-wire fashion and pressed the pace in two subsequent starts when third to Mandaloun in the Risen Star Stakes Presented by Lamarque Ford in February and then second to Hot Rod Charlie in the Twinspires.com Louisiana Derby on March 20. He also picks up a new rider in Hall of Famer Mike Smith, who has two Kentucky Derby wins on his résumé and is a good judge of pace. Add a solid pedigree for 1 ¼ miles as a son of two-time Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Tiznow, and Midnight Bourbon shapes up as an intriguing longshot candidate in Derby 147 who should definitely be considered for exotic bets such as the trifecta and superfecta. Derby History: Steve Asmussen, who also trains Super Stock, finished second in the 2011 Derby with Nehro and also in the 2017 renewal with Lookin At Lee. He also finished third with two future superstars: Curlin in 2007 and Gun Runner in 2016. Winchell Thoroughbreds, founded by the late Verne Winchell and now managed by his son Ron, has owned several Derby starters solely and in partnership; its best finish came with Gun Runner, co-owned with Besilu Stables and Three Chimneys Farm. Mike Smith has appeared in 26 Kentucky Derbys and won the race in 2005 on longshot Giacomo and again in 2018 on favored Justify, who went on to sweep the Triple Crown. He’s also finished second four times (Prairie Bayou, 1993; Proud Citizen, 2002; Lion Heart, 2004; Bodemeister, 2012) and third once.


Adam Coglianese/NYRA

11. Dynamic One (20-1)

Jockey: Jose Ortiz

Trainer: Todd Pletcher

Owners: Repole Stable, Phipps Stable, and St. Elias Stable

Career record: 5 starts – 1 win – 2 seconds – 0 thirds

Career earnings: $194,120

Earnings per start: $38,824

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 103

Kentucky Derby points: 40

Pedigree: Union Rags – Beat the Drums, by Smart Strike

Color: Chestnut

Running style: Stalker

Notable achievements and interesting facts: Last seen finishing second to stablemate Bourbonic in the Wood Memorial Stakes Presented by Resorts World Casino, Dynamic One actually may get more betting support than the 72.25-1 Wood winner on Derby day. He ran creditably at 15.60-1 odds and took a brief lead in the stretch at Aqueduct but could not hold on in a race that produced the slowest time since the Wood Memorial was extended to 1 1/8 miles in 1952. Prior to the Wood, he won a 1 1/8-mile maiden race at Aqueduct in March, and also of note, he finished a good second to the currently sidelined Greatest Honour (formerly a top Derby contender) in a two-turn race at Gulfstream Park last December. As a son of Belmont Stakes winner Union Rags and from a female family that includes several graded stakes winners in route races, Dynamic One should be able to handle 1 ¼ miles. He definitely sits beneath the top rung of contenders, and maybe even below the second group, but if he gets a good stalking trip under Jose Ortiz, Dynamic One could fill out the trifecta or superfecta in the Derby. Derby History: Ortiz will be making his sixth Derby start; he finished second in the 2018 renewal on Good Magic and third in 2019 aboard Tacitus. Todd Pletcher has sent a record 55 horses to the Kentucky Derby, with two wins (Super Saver, 2010 and Always Dreaming, 2017), two seconds (Invisible Ink, 2001 and Bluegrass Cat, 2006) and four thirds. Vincent Viola’s St. Elias Stable was part-owner of Always Dreaming, and St. Elias and Mike Repole co-owned ninth-place Vino Rosso in 2018. Repole has also owned four other Derby starters solely or in partnership. The storied Phipps Stable won the 2013 Derby with Orb (co-owned by Stuart Janney). Founder Ogden Phipps finished second twice, with Dapper Dan in 1965 and Easy Goer in 1989. His son, Ogden Mills “Dinny” Phipps, finished third in 1989 with Awe Inspiring and celebrated Orb’s 2013 win with Janney and trainer Shug McGaughey in a memorable press conference.


SV Photography

12. Helium (50-1)

Jockey: Julien Leparoux

Trainer: Mark Casse

Owner: D. J. Stable

Career record: 3 starts – 3 wins – 0 seconds – 0 thirds

Career earnings: $287,763

Earnings per start: $95,921

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 94

Kentucky Derby points: 50

Pedigree: Ironicus – Thundering Emilia, by Thunder Gulch

Color: Bay

Running style: Stalker

Notable achievements and interesting facts: Helium is perhaps the biggest wild card in this year’s Kentucky Derby, especially since there is no mysterious shipper from Europe or Japan to deal with. He brings an undefeated record to Louisville, having won two races by open lengths at Woodbine on that track’s synthetic surface last year as a 2-year-old and then posting a gritty three-quarter-length win over Hidden Stash in the Lambholm South Tampa Bay Derby on March 6.  On the negative side, his speed figures are among the lowest in the Kentucky Derby field and the Tampa Bay Derby is his only start on dirt. His pedigree is also somewhat opaque: his sire, Ironicus, was a stakes winner on turf, and his dam (who was sired by the great Kentucky Derby and Belmont Stakes winner Thunder Gulch) was a stakes winner in Peru and in the U.S. Based on his bloodlines, he should be able to manage the Derby’s mile and a quarter, but his credentials as a top-tier dirt horse are suspect, especially matched against his Derby opponents. All in all, Helium profiles as a contender who has a 50-50 chance to either outrun his odds and spice up exotic tickets or finish well back in the field. He has been training very well for Mark Casse at Churchill Downs in recent weeks, which could tilt that either/or pendulum slightly in his favor. Derby History: This will be the first Derby for Leonard and Lois Green’s D. J. Stable. Hall of Fame trainer Mark Casse’s best finish in eight prior Kentucky Derbys came in 2017 when Classic Empire came in fourth. That is also the best finish from jockey Julien Leparoux’s 12 Derby mounts.


Keeneland/Coady Photography

13. Hidden Stash (50-1)

Jockey: Rafael Bejarano

Trainer: Victoria Oliver

Owner: BBN Racing

Career record: 7 starts – 2 wins – 1 second – 2 thirds

Career earnings: $231,062

Earnings per start: $33,009

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 94

Kentucky Derby points: 32

Pedigree: Constitution – Making Mark Money, by Smart Strike

Color: Chestnut

Running style: Closer

Notable achievements and interesting facts: Hidden Stash carries dependable form into the Kentucky Derby; he’s a stone-cold closer who always gives a good effort but will need a significant speed-figure boost and a lot of racing luck to have a shot at hitting the board. He earned Derby qualifying points in all three of his races earlier this year when third in the Sam F. Davis Stakes, second to Helium in the Lambholm South Tampa Bay Derby, and then a distant fourth behind Essential Quality in the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes. Hidden Stash also has a win in a two-turn race on Churchill Downs’ main track, scoring by a half-length in an allowance race last November. He’s a good candidate to consider using in trifecta and superfecta tickets at what should be post-time odds in the range of 40-1 and figures to be passing tired horses in the stretch under Rafael Bejarano. Winning the Kentucky Derby would be a major shock, however. Derby History: Hidden Stash is the first Derby starter for Kentucky-based Vicki Oliver, and will be the first horse in the Derby with a female trainer since Carla Gaines saddled Bolo in 2015. He’s also the first Derby starter for the ownership group of BBN Racing. Rafael Bejarano will be making his ninth Derby start; his best finish was fourth in 2009 aboard Papa Clem.


Coady Photography

14. Essential Quality (2-1)

Jockey: Luis Saez

Trainer: Brad Cox

Owner: Godolphin

Career record: 5 starts – 5 wins – 0 seconds – 0 thirds

Career earnings: $2,265,144

Earnings per start: $453,029

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 109

Kentucky Derby points: 140

Pedigree: Tapit – Delightful Quality, by Elusive Quality

Color: Gray or roan

Running style: Press the pace/stalker

Notable achievements and interesting facts: Essential Quality rolls into trainer Brad Cox’s home base of Churchill Downs as the clear favorite for Derby 147. After an undefeated 2-year-old campaign that culminated with a win in the TVG Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Presented by Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance, he came back after a 3 ½-month break with a 4 ¼-length win in the Southwest Stakes at Oaklawn Park on a sloppy track. He then had to work hard in the April 3 Toyota Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland but was up to the challenge in his final Derby prep, outfinishing Highly Motivated by neck. His Equibase Speed Figures continue to improve, his pedigree is suitable for the Derby’s mile-and-a-quarter distance, and he’s already displayed the sort of versatile running style that is required to handle the challenges of racing in a 20-horse field. Those betting against Essential Quality are banking that their pick has more untapped potential than this champion, and that’s a legitimate angle. But Essential Quality has already proved an elite racehorse and is clearly the best of his class so far. With some racing luck (which every horse needs in the Derby), he’ll be very tough to beat. If he wins, he’ll become the ninth horse to do so while undefeated (the last being Justify in 2018) and the third Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner to take the Derby seven months later (joining Street Sense and Nyquist). Derby History: Reigning Eclipse Award winner Brad Cox, who grew up near Churchill Downs and has risen to the top of his profession in recent years, will be making his first Derby appearance with Essential Quality and Mandaloun. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum has brought 11 horses to the Derby through his Godolphin racing empire and another one in partnership. Godolphin’s best finish came in 2015 when Frosted checked in fourth. Jockey Luis Saez is 0-for-7 in the Kentucky Derby but experienced the sensation of winning for roughly 20 minutes in 2019 before his mount Maximum Security, who crossed the finish line in front, was disqualified for interference.


Eclipse Sportswire

15. Rock Your World (5-1)

Jockey: Joel Rosario

Trainer: John Sadler

Owners: Hronis Racing and Talla Racing

Career record: 3 starts – 3 wins – 0 seconds – 0 thirds

Career earnings: $546,600

Earnings per start: $182,200

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 103

Kentucky Derby points: 100

Pedigree: Candy Ride – Charm the Maker, by Empire Maker

Color: Dark bay or brown

Running style: Pacesetter/press the pace

Notable achievements and interesting facts: Rock Your World adds some excitement to Derby 147 as he recently vaulted into the upper echelon of contenders with a 4 ¼-length win in the April 3 Runhappy Santa Anita Derby. That authoritative, wire-to-wire score came after two starts earlier this year on turf, both open-length victories. The son of top sire Candy Ride made the switch to dirt seamlessly in the Santa Anita Derby and earned a career-best 103 Equibase Speed Figure. He figures to be one of the horses contesting the early lead in the Kentucky Derby, although he won both of his grass races by sitting just off of the pace. Even with his Santa Anita Derby win, Rock Your World still is taking a class jump in the Kentucky Derby (it’s worth noting that Bob Baffert’s main California-based Derby horse Life Is Good missed the Santa Anita Derby, and his second-rated contender Concert Tour shipped to Oaklawn Park). That said, Rock Your World is a live Derby contender at what should be good odds, and his pedigree is well-suited for 1 ¼ miles. Plus, he picks up a Kentucky Derby-winning jockey in Joel Rosario. It will be interesting to see how aggressive Rosario is on his mount and whether he decides move straight to the front after the starting gate opens. Rosario rode Rock Your World in his maiden victory in a six-furlong turf race Jan. 1 off of a pace-pressing trip. Derby History: Rock Your World is the first Derby starter for owners Hronis Racing and Talla Racing. John Sadler has started four horses in the Derby, with his best finish a sixth-place effort by Corby back in 1993. Sadler and Hronis Racing do have more recent success at Churchill Downs, winning the 2018 Breeders’ Cup Classic with Accelerate. Rosario was aboard Accelerate for that victory; his Kentucky Derby win came in 2013 on Orb out of nine starters to date.


Eclipse Sportswire

16. King Fury (20-1)

Jockey: Brian Hernandez Jr.

Trainer: Ken McPeek

Owners: Fern Circle Stables and Three Chimneys Farm

Career record: 6 starts – 3 wins – 0 seconds – 0 thirds

Career earnings: $262,739

Earnings per start: $43,790

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 103

Kentucky Derby points: 20

Pedigree: Curlin – Taris, by Flatter

Color: Chestnut

Running style: Stalker/closer

Notable achievements and interesting facts: King Fury drew into the Kentucky Derby field on April 23, and he shapes up as a viable longshot candidate to hit the board. After disappointing in his final two starts as a 2-year-old in major stakes races, he came back from a four-plus month break to post a visually impressive, 2 ¾-length win in the April 10 Stonestreet Lexington Stakes on a sloppy track at Keeneland. He earned a career-best 103 Equibase Speed Figure in the Lexington Stakes and appeared to relish the wet surface, something to keep in mind if he indeed does make the Derby and it rains on the first Saturday in May (which has happened quite often in recent years). King Fury has a pedigree that is a good mixture of stamina (sire Curlin, the two-time Horse of the Year) and speed (dam Taris, who earned more than $1 million and set a track record for seven furlongs at Keeneland). He also boasts two wins going 1 1/16 miles on Churchill Downs’ main track, including the Street Sense Stakes. This colt showed a new dimension in his first start at 3, and if he can improve off of that effort, he’ll have an outsider’s chance at the upset in Derby 147. Derby History: Three Chimneys Farm has co-owned two third-place finishers in the Derby, Chief’s Crown in 1985 and Gun Runner in 2016. Trainer Ken McPeek has had six prior Derby starters and finished second in his 1995 debut with Tejano Run. This will be jockey Brian Hernandez Jr.’s third Kentucky Derby, with his best finish being eighth aboard McCraken in 2017.


Keeneland/Coady Photography

17. Highly Motivated (10-1)

Jockey: Javier Castellano

Trainer: Chad Brown

Owner: Klaravich Stables

Career record: 5 starts – 2 wins – 2 seconds – 1 third

Career earnings: $320,050

Earnings per start: $64,010

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 108

Kentucky Derby points: 50

Pedigree: Into Mischief – Strong Incentive, by Warrior’s Reward

Color: Bay

Running style: Press the pace/stalker

Notable achievements and interesting facts: Highly Motivated carries the Derby hopes of one of the nation’s leading owner-trainer combos in Klaravich Stables and Chad Brown following a superb effort in the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes April 3 at Keeneland, where he set the pace in his first start around two turns and battled undefeated champion Essential Quality all the way through the stretch of the 1 1/8-mile race before losing by a neck. Prior to the Blue Grass, Highly Motivated won two of three starts as a 2-year-old in sprints and was a late-running third in his 3-year-old debut in the one-mile Gotham Stakes at Aqueduct. It’s a big question mark as to whether Highly Motivated can improve off of his Blue Grass performance when stretching out another eighth of a mile in the Kentucky Derby, and his pedigree suggests that competing in races around a mile would suit him best. On the other hand, his best Equibase Speed Figures are competitive with the rest of the Derby field and he has yet to finish off the board in five starts. It will be interesting to see if Hall of Fame jockey Javier Castellano places him close to the early lead in the Derby from his post near the outside (the Blue Grass Stakes lacked a confirmed pacesetter) or keeps more of his energy in reserve for a stretch run. Chad Brown told reporters April 16 that he would prefer Highly Motivated to sit back in a stalking spot, and that probably would give him the best chance at posting the upset. Derby History: Castellano has made 14 prior starts in the Kentucky Derby and his best finish came in 2018 aboard third-place Audible. Chad Brown, arguably the leading turf trainer in the U.S., has also started sending horses to the Derby regularly, with five starters since 2013; his champion Good Magic was second behind Justify in 2018. Highly Motivated is the third Derby starter for Seth Klarman’s Klaravich Stables.


Coady Photography

18. Super Stock (30-1)

Jockey: Ricardo Santana Jr.

Trainer: Steve Asmussen

Owners: Erv Woolsey and Keith Asmussen

Career record: 8 starts – 2 wins – 2 seconds – 2 thirds

Career earnings: $804,762

Earnings per start: $100,595

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 106

Kentucky Derby points: 109

Pedigree: Dialed In – Super Girlie, by Closing Argument

Color: Bay

Running style: Stalker/closer

Notable achievements and interesting facts: After a busy juvenile campaign that saw him win one of six starts and run third in two graded stakes, Super Stock has come back better as a 3-year-old to join the Kentucky Derby lineup as a longshot. He made his first start of 2021 in the March 13 Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn Park and closed methodically through the stretch to finish fourth behind Concert Tour, who controlled matters by setting a moderate pace. But in his next start at Oaklawn, Super Stock benefited from a faster pace and sat a perfect trip behind leaders Caddo River and Concert Tour before rolling past both of them late to win the Arkansas Derby on April 10. This colt will most likely not enjoy such a sweet scenario in the crowded Kentucky Derby, but he can be counted on to put forth a good effort and he’s teamed well with jockey Ricardo Santana Jr. in the Arkansas Derby and two prior starts. His win chances are remote but if he gets a good trip and honest pace to chase, Super Stock could hit the board. Derby History: Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen will also be represented by Midnight Bourbon in the Derby. He’s had 21 prior starters, and finished second twice (Nehro, 2011 and Lookin At Lee, 2017) and third twice (Curlin, 2007 and Gun Runner, 2016). This is the first Derby for owners Erv Woolsey and Keith Asmussen; the latter is the father of Steve. Ricardo Santana Jr. will be making his seventh Derby start. His best finish came last year with fifth-place Max Player.


Lauren KIng/Coglianese Photo

19. Soup and Sandwich (30-1)

Jockey: Tyler Gaffalione

Trainer: Mark Casse

Owner: Live Oak Plantation

Career record: 3 starts – 2 wins – 1 second – 0 thirds

Career earnings: $203,875

Earnings per start: $67,958

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 108

Kentucky Derby points: 40

Pedigree: Into Mischief – Souper Scoop, by Tapit

Color: Gray or roan

Running style: Press the pace

Notable achievements and interesting facts: Lightly-raced Soup and Sandwich joins Helium as Derby contenders from Mark Casse’s barn and, like his stablemate, he has plenty of upside. He also brings better dirt form to the Derby than Helium, having won two races earlier this year at Gulfstream Park and Tampa Bay Downs by open lengths and then stepping up to fire a big race in his stakes debut when second to Known Agenda in the Curlin Florida Derby Presented by Hill ‘n’ Dale Farms at Xalapa on March 27. In the Florida Derby, Soup and Sandwich set the early pace and kept on through the homestretch after being passed by Known Agenda while still racing greenly. He earned a solid Equibase Speed Figure of 108 in the Florida Derby, and has been training solidly at Churchill with Helium since then. Can this well-bred son of leading sire Tapit improve enough from that effort to hit the board in the Kentucky Derby? Overall, Soup and Sandwich profiles as one of the most intriguing longshots in the field, although his odds might take a hit on Derby day due to the near-universal popularity of his name. Derby History: Casse has made eight previous appearances in the Derby, his best finish coming with fourth-place Classic Empire in 2017. Jockey Tyler Gaffalione rode Casse-trained War of Will to a seventh-place finish in the 2019 Derby and that colt was significantly impeded by the jostling caused by disqualified first-place finisher Maximum Security. One race later, Gaffalione, Casse, and War of Will won the Preakness Stakes. Charlotte Weber’s Live Oak Plantation has had four prior Derby starters, and her colt Laser Light finished second to Gato del Sol in 1982, her first appearance.


Chelsea Durand/NYRA Photo

20. Bourbonic (30-1)

Jockey: Kendrick Carmouche

Trainer: Todd Pletcher

Owner: Calumet Farm

Career record: 6 starts – 3 wins – 1 second – 0 thirds

Career earnings: $465,880

Earnings per start: $77,647

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 100

Kentucky Derby points: 100

Pedigree: Bernardini – Dancing Afleet, by Afleet Alex

Color: Dark bay or brown

Running style: Closer

Notable achievements and interesting facts: Bourbonic punched his ticket to the Kentucky Derby with an improbable 72.25-1 win in the Wood Memorial Stakes Presented by Resorts World Casino at Aqueduct on April 3. Racing last of nine through the backstretch and chasing a slow pace, he made a sustained move through the far turn to reach contention and then grinded his way to a head win over stablemate Dynamic One, finishing up in the slowest time since the Wood was moved to 1 1/8 miles in 1952. Prior to his Wood victory, he won two of five starts against modest competition and never posted an Equibase Speed Figure above 88. Those credentials should make him a big longshot in the Derby, although perhaps not on the order of 72.25-1. Breaking from the far outside post should be no problem for Bourbonic as he should be positioned well back in the pack early on and still there as the 20-horse field goes through the backstretch. He’ll have to rely on getting a much faster pace to run into than he did in the Wood — plus enough racing luck to not get blocked — in order to make a late rally and attempt to light up the tote board once again. Derby History: This will be New York-based jockey Kendrick Carmouche’s first start in the Kentucky Derby. Todd Pletcher has two Derby wins (Super Saver, 2010 and Always Dreaming, 2017) along with two runner-up finishes (Invisible Ink, 2001 and Bluegrass Cat, 2006) and four third-place finishes. Calumet Farm is the all-time leading owner by Kentucky Derby wins with eight. Those all came when the historic farm was owned by the Wright family in the 20th Century: Triple Crown winner Whirlaway (1941), Pensive (1944), Triple Crown winner Citation (1948), Ponder (1949), Hill Gail (1952), Iron Liege (1957), Tim Tam (1958), and Forward Pass (1968). Under Brad Kelley’s stewardship, Calumet has started five horses in the Derby with two sixth-place finishes (Oxbow in 2013, who won the Preakness Stakes, and Bravazo in 2018, who was runner-up in the Preakness).