Here is the second half of this year’s Derby field of twenty
11. DYNAMIC ONE [ML 20-1] Jockey: Jose Ortiz. Trainer: Todd Pletcher. The third Pletcher runner in the field, and this guy was handled with plenty of patience by his trainer. He faced tough fields in his early Maiden races. In the Wood Memorial, he made a strong closing move, took the lead in the stretch and looked like a Winner until his stablemate caught him at the wire. The connections were very high on this horse heading into his last race. He will have plenty of horses out front to set the table for his closing move.
12. HELIUM [ML 50-1] Jockey: Julien Leparoux. Trainer: Mark Casse. Has 3 Wins in 3 starts, as does ROCK YOUR WORLD, but there is a huge difference in their odds. He will try to Win the Derby with only one start as a 3-year-old. That was a late-running Win in the Tampa Bay Derby, where he closed from 10th to Win at odds of 15-1. Immediately after the Victory, trainer Casse said that they would train up to the Derby, and that meant a two-month layoff. There will be plenty of pace to set up his closing move at big odds.
13. HIDDEN STASH [ML 50-1] Jockey: Rafael Bejarano. Trainer: Vicki Oliver. He passed tired horses in a trio of Derby preps and earned points in all three. He ran 3rd in the Sam F. Davis, 2nd in the Tampa Derby, and most recently 4th in the Blue Grass Stakes. Passing spent horses in the Run For The Roses has allowed some long shots to sneak into the Trifecta or Superfecta, but this is a much tougher spot for him.
14. ESSENTIAL QUALITY [ML 2-1] Jockey: Luis Saez. Trainer: Brad Cox. He checks all of the boxes of a potential Kentucky Derby Winner – more than 100 points earned on the Derby trail, a Victory in a 100-point race, unbeaten as a 3-year-old and races close to the pace. He Won his debut race at Churchill Downs and will be racing from his home barn. Yet he does not come with the buzz of recent speedy Bob Baffert runners. Some experts feel the 10-furlong Derby distance might be too much for a horse with a paddling left front leg.
15. ROCK YOUR WORLD [ML 5-1] Jockey: Joel Rosario. Trainer: John Sadler. He was on the lead in the Santa Anita Derby every step of the way as he made his debut on a dirt after Winning his first two on the turf. He is the other horse that checks all four of the boxes of a Derby Winner. He’s 3-for-3 in his career, with all of them run as a 3-year-old; totaled 100 qualifying points; has a Victory in a 100-point prep race; and raced on the lead. ROCK YOUR WORLD is the only horse in the field with a three-digit Beyer in his most recent start. He gets, one of the best in the game, Joel Rosario in the saddle.
16. KING FURY [ML 20-1] Jockey: Brian Hernandez Jr. Trainer: Ken McPeek. He made a raised eyebrow return to the Derby trail when he rallied from 8th, and 10 lengths back, to Win the Lexington Stakes by almost three lengths. His first two Victories last year came as a Maiden and then in the Street Sense Stakes at Churchill Downs. Note that he was a $950,000 purchase as a Saratoga yearling. He should get a favorable pace set-up for his closing move.
17. HIGHLY MOTIVATED [ML 10-1] Jockey: Javier Castellano. Trainer: Chad Brown. He gets high marks for coming within a neck of defeating ESSENTIAL QUALITY in the Blue Grass after setting all of the fractions. In defeat, however, he was far ahead of the rest of the field, which shows the quality of his performance. Trainer Brown and rider Castellano are (surprisingly) both looking for their first Derby Win. HIGHLY MOTIVATED joins the list of horses here that will want to be part of the early pace.
18. SUPER STOCK [ML 30-1] Jockey: Ricardo Santana Jr. Trainer: Steve Asmussen. He got a perfect trip in his Arkansas Derby Victory as he saved ground in the early going while tracking a fast pace. He swung outside and ran by the five other competitors to Win easily. No horse gets a trip like that in the 20-horse field of the Kentucky Derby. Owned in part by trainer Asmussen’s father, he is a feel-good horse for the Hall of Fame trainer who is a 0-for-21 in the Run For The Roses.
19. SOUP AND A SANDWICH [ML 30-1] Jockey: Tyler Gaffalione. Trainer: Mark Casse. After Winning the first two races of his career, which began this year, this second Casse Derby horse burst onto the scene when he ran 2nd in the Florida Derby at odds of 12-1 as he pressed the pace and had the lead until being overtaken by KNOWN AGENDA. Many horses in this field have similar running styles, which can make it hard for handicappers to separate them.
20. BOURBONIC [ML 30-1] Jockey: Kendrick Carmouche. Trainer: Todd Pletcher. Even Pletcher was surprised by his Victory in the Wood Memorial at odds of 72-1. He was in that race because his owner asked the trainer to give the horse a chance in a points race. He did have two Wins at Aqueduct during the winter, so maybe he should have been more like 30-1 in the Wood. As it was, the Wood was a plod, and he got a perfect trip.
Summary: The Kentucky Derby is among the best betting races in the world each year because there is typically an opportunity to find Value in at least one of the key exotic slots, leading to a potentially BIG payout.
ESSENTIAL QUALITY is a deserving favorite who could easily Win the 2021 edition of the Derby, but he does not enter the First Saturday in May with the dominating performances that made the likes of AMERICAN PHAROAH, and JUSTIFY seem invincible in recent years.
The Brad Cox trainee seems like the safest bet in the field to at least fill out the Exacta and Trifecta, but is he the horse to beat? Daily Racing Blog thinks not, and at 2-1 (or lower) we will look elsewhere for a better price.
We are looking at two horses who we believe can beat the Morning Line favorite: #9 HOT ROD CHARLIE (8-1) and #15 ROCK YOUR WORLD (5-1).
HOT ROD CHARLIE brings strong credentials into the race. He ran a good 2nd to ESSENTIAL QUALITY as a 2-year-old and has progressed nicely at age 3. His tactical style should allow him to sit a nice trip from a cozy post.
ROCK YOUR WORLD Won the Santa Anita Derby on the lead, which was his first trip on dirt after two W’s on the turf. He drew beautifully for his style in post 15. For a horse who has never had dirt kicked in his face, an inside draw could have been problematic. From post 15 he could make the lead with a clean break. He seems to be a future star in a field full of solid but unspectacular runners.
We also really like #1 HIDDEN AGENDA, but drawing the rail position in a field of twenty is too much to overcome.
The Play: In multi-race wagers we will use #14 ESSENTIAL QUALITY, #9 HOT ROD CHARLIE, and #15 ROCK YOUR WORLD.
In the Derby itself we will do a Trifecta Key using both the #9 and #15 on top. Underneath we will use #1 KNOWN AGENDA, #4 KEEPMEINMIND, #8 MEDINA SPIRIT, #14 ESSENTIAL QUALITY, and #17 HIGHLY MOTIVATED. So that ticket would read: 9,15 with 1-4-8-9-14-15-17 with 1-4-8-9-14-15-17.
We will structure a Superfecta in the same fashion. Along with an Exacta Box using the #1-9-14-15.
Be sure to bet your birthday, zip code, wedding anniversary, any combination of numbers you feel strongly about. It’s The Derby, anything can happen. Have fun and best of luck !