2021 Kentucky Derby Field Preview & Poll

Here’s the ultimate quick guide to the 2021 Kentucky Derby field — because as the resident horse person, we know you’ll get grilled at your Derby party for the inside scoop.


“The fastest two minutes in sports” goes off on Saturday, May 1 at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky, and as always, the field is full of intrigue, favorites and long shots. Headed to a Derby party? Want to fill up on trivia about the 20 horses entered in this year’s race? We’ve got the quick and dirty crib sheet that will give you the rundown on the field — make sure you vote in our poll for who you think will win this year!

Post Position 1: Known Agenda (6-1)
Chestnut Kentucky-bred colt by Curlin, bred by St. Elias Stables
Owned by St. Elias Stable
Trained by Todd Pletcher
Ridden by Irad Ortiz, Jr
Claims to fame: winner of the G1 Florida Derby, third in G2 Remsen Stakes

The Florida Derby is an influential prep race, so coming in off of a win in that Grade 1 makes Known Agenda a definite horse of interest. Breaking from post position one might be a challenge.

Post Position 2: Like the King (50-1)
Chestnut Kentucky-bred colt by Palace Malice, bred by Horseshoe Racing LLC
Owned by M Racing Group, LLC
Trained by Wesley Ward
Ridden by Drayden Van Dyke
Claims to fame: winner of G3 Jeff Ruby Steaks

Like the King’s first graded stakes start was his most recent, which he won: prior, he had run in allowance races at Belterra, Keeneland and Turfway. Likely to be an also-ran.

Post Position 3: Brooklyn Strong (50-1)
Bay New York-bred gelding by Wicked Strong, bred by Cheryl Prudhomme & Dr. Michael Gallivan
Owned by Mark Schwartz
Trained by Daniel Velazquez
Ridden by Umberto Rispoli
Claims to fame: winner of G2 Remsen Stakes

Brooklyn Strong has already become a Derby legend of this year by drawing into the race from the position of third alternate, and vanning overnight from Parx Racing to Louisville earlier this week. He was in top form for the Remsen and even though he’ll be a sentimental long shot, there’s always a chance that he’ll fire again.

Post Position 4: Keepmeinmind (50-1)
Bay Kentucky-bred colt by Laoban, bred by Southern Equine Stables, LLC
Owned by Cypress Creek Equine, Arnold Bennewith and Spendthrift Farm LLC
Trained by Robertino Diodoro
Ridden by David Cohen
Claims to fame: winner of G2 Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes, second in G1 Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity, third in G1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile

Keepmeinmind clearly fired as a juvenile, racking up his three graded stakes claims to fame. His three-year-old season, however, has been a bit lackluster; his best finish was a fifth in the Blue Grass.

Post Position 5: Sainthood (50-1)
Dark bay/brown Kentucky-bred colt by Mshawish, bred by Edward Taylor & Springland Farm
Owned by WinStar Farm LLC and CHC INC
Trained by Todd Pletcher
Ridden by Corey J. Lanerie
Claims to fame: second in G3 Jeff Ruby Steaks

Sainthood did not make his first start until his three-year-old season, which of course brings comparisons to mind of the legendary Justify. Could lightning strike twice? Probably not with Sainthood, whose best graded stakes performance is a third.

Post Position 6: O Besos (20-1)
Chestnut Kentucky-bred colt by Orb, bred by L. Barrett Bernard
Owned by Bernard Racing LLC, Tagg Team Racing, West Point Thoroughbreds and Terry L. Stephens
Trained by Gregory D. Foley
Ridden by Marcelino Pedroza
Claims to fame: third in G2 Louisiana Derby

While a winner of two, O Besos’ best graded stakes performance is a third in the Louisiana Derby. The Kentucky Derby may be a tall order for this colt.

Post Position 7: Mandaloun (15-1)
Bay Kentucky-bred colt by Into Mischief, bred by Juddmonte Farms
Owned by Juddmonte
Trained by Brad Cox
Ridden by Florent Geroux
Claims to fame: winner of G2 Risen Star Stakes, third in G3 Lecomte Stakes

Mandaloun was on winning form for the Risen Star at Fairgrounds, but struggled a month later in the Louisiana Derby over the same surface, finishing sixth. Still, he’s a class above many in the field.

Post Position 8: Medina Spirit (15-1)
Dark bay/brown Florida-bred colt by Protonico, bred by Gail Rice
Owned by Zedan Racing Stables
Trained by Bob Baffert
Ridden by John R. Velazquez
Claims to fame: winner of G3 Robert B. Lewis Stakes, second in G2 Sham Stakes, G2 San Felipe Stakes, and G2 Santa Anita Derby

While he doesn’t have the same caliber of blue-blooded breeding as some in this field, Medina Spirit has proven himself to be a gritty contender, having never finished worse than second in his four graded stakes starts. Having Bob Baffert in your corner never hurts either.

Post Position 9: Hot Rod Charlie (8-1)
Dark bay/brown Kentucky-bred colt by Oxbow, bred by Edward A. Cox, Jr
Owned by Roadrunner Racing, Boat Racing, LLC, Strauss Bros Racing and Gainesway Thoroughbreds, Ltd.
Trained by Doug O’Neill
Ridden by Flavien Pratt
Claims to fame: winner of G2 Louisiana Derby, second in G1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, third in G3 Robert B. Lewis Stakes

Coming off of a win in the Louisiana Derby has Hot Rod Charlie riding high on good form plus strong connections. While lightly raced this season, he is primed and ready for the first Saturday in May.

Post Position 10: Midnight Bourbon (20-1)
Bay Kentucky-bred colt by Tiznow, bred by Stonestreet Thoroughbred Holdings
Owned by Winchell Thoroughbreds
Trained by Steve Asmussen
Ridden by Mike Smith
Claims to fame: winner of G3 Lecomte Stakes, second in G1 Louisiana Derby and G3 Iroquois Stakes, third in G1 Champagne Stakes and G2 Risen Star Stakes

Midnight Bourbon definitely has one of the deepest stakes resumes in the field. He has an all-star lineup of connections and just needs a little luck on his side.

Post Position 11: Dynamic One (20-1)
Chestnut Kentucky-bred colt by Union Rags, bred by Phipps Stable
Owned by Repole Stable, Phipps Stable and St. Elias Stable
Trained by Todd Pletcher
Ridden by Jose L. Ortiz
Claims to fame: second in G2 Wood Memorial

The Wood Memorial hasn’t been known for churning out too many Derby winners in recent years, and a second-place finish doesn’t necessarily destine greatness. But Dynamic One is bred by the legendary Phipps Stable and has Todd Pletcher preparing him to run, so anything is possible.

Post Position 12: Helium (50-1)
Bay Kentucky-bred colt by Ironicus, bred by Teneri Farm Inc. & Bernardo Alvarez Calderon
Owned by D. J. Stable LLC
Trained by Mark Casse
Ridden by Julien Leparoux
Claims to fame: winner of the G2 Tampa Bay Derby

Helium is lightly-raced but undefeated in his three career starts. His last out was his only start at three and his only graded stakes win, and while it qualified him for the Kentucky Derby field it’s unlikely he has the class to best this massive field.

Post Position 13: Hidden Stash (50-1)
Chestnut Kentucky-bred colt by Constitution, bred by Rhineshire Farm LLC
Owned by BBN Racing
Trained by Victoria H. Oliver
Ridden by Rafael Bejarano
Claims to fame: second in the G2 Tampa Bay Derby, third in G3 Sam F. Davis Stakes

Hidden Stash has yet to win a graded stakes, and getting that first big win in the Kentucky Derby seems less than likely on Saturday. But there’s a human interest factor with betting this long shot: should he come out on top, trainer Victoria Oliver becomes the first woman to train a Derby winner.

Post Position 14: Essential Quality (2-1)
Grey/roan Kentucky-bred colt by Tapit, bred by Godolphin
Owned by Godolphin
Trained by Brad Cox
Ridden by Luis Saez
Claims to fame: winner of the G1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, G1 Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity, G2 Blue Grass Stakes, and G3 Southwest Stakes

Here’s your favorite, folks, and it’s not hard to see why: impeccable breeding, top-notch connections, and an undefeated record plus the Eclipse Award as a juvenile. Essential Quality is aptly named, but he’ll still need luck on his side to pick his way through the massive crush of horses in the Kentucky Derby field.

Post Position 15: Rock Your World (5-1)
Dark bay/brown Kentucky-bred colt by Candy Ride [ARG], bred by Ron McAnally & Deborah McAnally
Owned by Hronis Racing LLC and David Michael Talla
Trained by John Sadler
Ridden by Joel Rosario
Claims to fame: winner of the G1 Santa Anita Derby

West Coast-based horses have had great luck in the Derby in recent years and bettors are banking on Rock Your World’s success in the Santa Anita Derby. He took control of the race early, which is a scenario that’s worked well for horses in Kentucky in the past.

Post Position 16: King Fury (20-1)
Chestnut Kentucky-bred colt by Curlin, bred by Heider Family Stables
Owned by Fern Circle Stables, Three Chimneys Farm and Magdalena Racing (Sherri McPeek)
Trained by Kenny McPeek
Ridden by Brian Joseph Hernandez, Jr.
Claims to fame: winner of the G3 Stonestreet Lexington Stakes

While King Fury only has the single on-the-board finish in the Stonestreet Lexington on his resume, he’s been there: he started in both the Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity and Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, plus the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes. He’s likely to be an also-ran on Saturday but he’s raced with horses in the high-caliber field before.

Post Position 17: Highly Motivated (10-1)
Bay Kentucky-bred colt by Into Mischief, bred by Klaravich Stables
Owned by Klaravich Stables
Trained by Chad Brown
Ridden by Javier Castellano
Claims to fame: second in G2 Blue Grass Stakes, third in G3 Gotham Stakes

While Highly Motivated is still seeking that first graded stakes win, his game second-place finish in the Blue Grass to Essential Quality has many believing that if he’s on top form on Saturday, he could prevail. His long dueling drive with Essential Quality was one of the more exciting moments from the road to the Kentucky Derby.

Post Position 18: Super Stock (30-1)
Bay Kentucky-bred colt by Dialed In, bred by Pedro Gonzalez & P. J. Gonzalez
Owned by Erv Woolsey and Keith Asmussen
Trained by Steve Asmussen
Ridden by Ricardo Santana
Claims to fame: winner of G1 Arkansas Derby, third in G1 Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity and G3 Iroquois Stakes

While Super Stock is coming off of a Grade 1 win in the Arkansas Derby, the question could be asked, “against who?” A lackluster field helped him earn the win but he’ll be contending with serious class on Saturday and another victory is a big ask.

Post Position 19: Soup and Sandwich (30-1)
Grey/roan Florida-bred colt by Into Mischief, bred by Live Oak Stud
Owned by Live Oak Plantation
Trained by Mark Casse
Ridden by Tyler Gaffalione
Claims to fame: second in G1 Florida Derby

Another colt making his debut as a three-year-old, Soup and Sandwich was a clear second in the Florida Derby, and while he’s not achieved a graded stakes win, his speed rating at Gulfstream showed a lot of promise. Breaking from post 19 means he’ll need to really hustle to get to the pace.

Post Position 20: Bourbonic (30-1)
Dark bay/brown Kentucky-bred colt by Bernardini, bred by Calumet Farm
Owned by Calumet Farm
Trained by Todd Pletcher
Ridden by Kendrick Carmouche
Claims to fame: winner of the G2 Wood Memorial

Bourbonic is coming off the win in the Wood Memorial, but the speed rating was slow over a soft field. He was also running in the claiming ranks as recently as December for owner/breeder Calumet Farm. Still, claimers have bucked the odds before…