2021 Kentucky Derby Betting Tips: Top Picks And Outside Bets

"Rider's up!" It doesn't quite feel like May until we hear the iconic cry at the annual Kentucky Derby — and place a bet or two. Which bets are quite literally, your best bets? Read on and find out.

Post Game

When racing betting fans look back in future years at the 2021 Kentucky Derby, we might remember a classic. The field this year is packed with elite talent, with three horses coming into the race unbeaten in 2021.

Placing a bet on Kentucky Derby horses has never been easier thanks to the growth of online sportsbooks. And punters are already throwing cash at Essential Quality – the 5/2 favorite that has demolished his rivals so far this year.

But while the ante post tip will draw most attention on Saturday, May 1, plenty of punters are looking around to see where the true value is. Whether you’re new to sports betting or just want to check out the 2021 Kentucky Derby odds, read on for our detailed tips to bet on this year’s ‘Run of the Roses’.

horses racing around track at horse race

Riders up!

2021 Kentucky Derby Race Card

The 2021 Kentucky Derby odds were released in the week building up to the race and Essential Quality is the early favorite to win Saturday. Each horse has odds relating to its chances of success and has recorded qualifying points throughout the season.

It’s no surprise that with 140 qualifying points Essential Quality is the 5/2 favorite to win – but the likes of Known Agenda, Highly Motivated and Hot Rod Charlie are all being talked about as potential winners.

Odds Horse Jockey Trainer Qualifying Points
5/2 Essential Quality Luis Saez Brad Cox 140
11/2 Rock Your World Joel Rosario John Sadler 100
15/2 Known Agenda Irad Ortiz Jr. Todd Pletcher 102
8/1 Hot Rod Charlie Flavien Prat Doug O’Neill 110
8/1 Highly Motivated Javier Castellano Chad Brown 50
9/1 Medina Spirit John Velazquez Bob Baffert 74
16/1 Mandaloun Florent Group Brad Cox 52
16/1 Super Stock Ricardo Santana Jr. Steve Asmussen 109
20/1 Like The King Drayden Van Dyke Wesley Ward 104
20/1 Bourbonic Kendrick Carmouche Todd Pletcher 100
20/1 Dynamic One Jose Ortiz Todd Pletcher 40
25/1 Midnight Bourbon Mike Smith Steve Asmussen 66
25/1 O Besos Marcelino Pedroza Greg Foley 25
33/1 Soup And Sandwich Tyler Gaffalione Mark Casse 40
33/1 Helium Julien Leparoux Mark Casse 50
40/1 King Fury Brian Hernandez Jr. Kenneth McPeek 20
50/1 Keepmeinmind David Cohen Robertino Diodoro 18
50/1 Brooklyn Strong Umberto Rispoli Daniel Velazquez 10
50/1 Sainthood Corey Lanerie Todd Pletcher 40
66/1 Hidden Stash Rafael Bejarano Vicki Oliver 32

Kentucky Derby Form guide

Studying the form is one of the smartest ways to make a knowledgeable, reasoned choice when Kentucky Derby betting. The form of each horse is available on the race card, and looks something like this: 5-3-0-1.

The first number indicates the number of starts the horse has had this year, followed by wins, places (second), and shows (third). So, in this instance, the horse has raced five times, won three, placed none and shown once.

Three horses come into the Kentucky Derby having gone unbeaten this season: Essential Quality (5/1), Rock Your World (11/2) Helium (33/1). Now, Essential Quality is the pre-race favorite to win the Derby and it’s not hard to see why, following his winning streak in 2021 that includes victories at the Southwest Stakes and Blue Grass Stakes.

If you’re looking for an outside pick with good odds, Like The King (20/1) boasts a healthy 6-3-2-1 record. This horse is a closer and loves to leave it late before charging for the post. He’s not a bad shout to come in with a Show bet.

2021 Kentucky Derby Draw

The 2021 Kentucky Derby draw was made on Tuesday and produced some major pre-race headlines. The biggest was that Hot Rod Charlie earned arguably the best starting point at 9 in the gates – a result that triggered whoops of celebration from his owners at Churchill Downs!

Every year the Kentucky Derby draw allocates where all 20 horses will start the race. Each horse is set into a gate that runs the width of the racetrack, which means those on the exterior sides of the gate have a disadvantage to those in the center.

Once the gates open, the horses bolt into the center grouping and many of those on the outside can be jostled out – bad news when you only have two minutes before the race is over.

Here’s what we learned from the 2021 Kentucky Derby draw:

Good Draw

Hot Rod Charlie (8/1) is in gate 9 and could sprint into an early lead here. There was also plenty of happiness at O Besos (6/1) being drawn at gate 6, while Dynamic One (20/1) may see his odds come in after getting gate 11. For those looking for an outside pick, Midnight Bourbon (25/1) was gifted gate 10 and could accompany Hot Rod Charlie to the front by the first bend.

Bad Draw

Bourbonic (20/1) has been talked about as a possible Derby winner but he was drawn in gate 20 and will have to fight through the crowd to be in contention. Likewise, Known Agenda (15/2) is on the rail in gate 1 and will have to hope for some lucky opening in which to exploit. Super Stock (18/1) is a horse improving in form but at 18 faces a difficult challenge, while Highly Motivated (8/1) is in gate 17 which has never produced a Derby winner.

Average Draw

Both Hidden Stash (66/1) in gate 13 and Keepmeinmind (50/1) in gate 4 have wide odds for this race but their draws will help their cause. Indeed, both are either side of the core group and could gain an advantage trailing one of the favorites.

2021 Kentucky Derby Predictions

It’s hard to stray away from HOT ROD CHARLIE if bettors are looking to back a winner. At 8/1 and with one of the best draws, the stage is set for jockey Flavien Prat to weave his magic here. But the history books suggest Medina Spirit – at 9/1 – is a good bet for the Kentucky Derby. After all, gate 8 is the fourth-most successful gate for producing winners at the Derby, and Bob Baffert’s sprint king is in good hands with John Velazquez.

With little chance of rain in Louisville on Saturday, horses that thrive on good ground should succeed. We can expect a fast race, and favorite Essential Quality is attracting many punters following his 100% winning career.

Sainthood struck gold in placing in gate 5, which has produced the most Derby winners in history (10). At odds of 50/1 Sainthood isn’t being backed by many, but those seeking long-shot Kentucky Derby tips won’t be put off backing him with a small wager.

Best Kentucky Derby Bet

If you’re betting on the Kentucky Derby for the first time and want to make a smart bet, then it’s advised to channel your money onto the Place and Show markets. Of course, feel free to bet a small amount on the Kentucky Derby winner – but be aware that there are smarter bets out there.

For a start, backing the Place (your horse to come either first or second) or the Show (first, second or third) spreads the risk and is the perfect bet for newcomers to horse racing betting. Not only could you still win a substantial amount, but you have an increased chance of winning.

With this in mind, Midnight Bourbon has set a good pace this year and should be in contention from the start. At 20/1, you can afford to shave into your potential profits by backing him to Place or Show.

Back To Top
Back To Top