Close menu
Kentucky Derby Top 20 Rankings 3/24/21
Hot Rod Charlie (right) on his way to winning the Louisiana Derby (Credit: Hodges Photography)

Kentucky Derby Top 20 Rankings 3/24/21

Welcome to the 2021 Kentucky Derby Rankings! Each week leading up to the race, we will provide our Top 20 Kentucky Derby Prospects, as well as updates with the latest news on each horse.

You can also visit our Kentucky Derby (G1) page for loads of information, including the latest news, rankings, prep race schedules, the Kentucky Derby point standings, and much more!

( Content Continues Below Ad )

1. Concert Tour

Pros: Bob Baffert; should continue to improve going longer; effortless win routing

Cons: Beyer Speed Figures lower than the best in the crop

Outlook: He couldn’t have looked much better in the Rebel (G2) in his first time going two turns. He’s now Baffert’s best after the injury to Life Is Good.

2. Essential Quality

Pros: Brad Cox; distance pedigree; class of the crop; solid 2021 debut

Cons: Hard-pressed to find a con at this point

Outlook: He’s easily better than those behind him on this list, plus he has a better distance pedigree than our top-ranked horse.

3. Medina Spirit

Pros: Three great 2021 efforts; early speed; Bob Baffert

Cons: Not as flashy as the top 2. 

Outlook: He’s shown heart and toughness in his last three starts, and now he doesn’t have to worry about beating stablemate Life Is Good.

4. Hot Rod Charlie

Pros: Proven class; Doug O’Neill; win going 1 3/16 miles; high Beyer Speed Figure

Cons: Multiple losses on the resume

Outlook: The son of Oxbow (standing at Calumet Farm) kicked it up a notch with an impressive win in the Louisiana Derby (G2) and earned a 99 Beyer Speed Figure that’s now the highest among active Derby contenders.

5. Greatest Honour

Pros: Excellent pedigree; “The Shugster” Shug McGaughey; 3-race winning streak

Cons: Low Beyer Speed Figures remain an issue

Outlook: This guy keeps winning without earning fast speed figures. Further distance should help him.

6. Risk Taking

Pros: Distance no problem; Chad Brown

Cons: Running style; low Beyer Speed Figures

Outlook: He looked good in the Withers (G3) but must continue to improve from a speed figure standpoint. 

7. Midnight Bourbon 

Pros: Consistent; proven class; Derby-friendly running style

Cons: Multiple losses on resume

Outlook: He leaves Louisiana as the most consistent horse from that circuit. His toughness and running style should help him in Kentucky.

8. Dream Shake

Pros: Plenty of talent; ran well in his stakes debut

Cons: Behind schedule wise; must develop quickly

Outlook: His effort in the San Felipe (G2) was admirable, but he must show improvement to win the Santa Anita Derby (G1).

9. Roman Centurian

Pros: Consistent runner

Cons: Should have won Lewis; low Beyer Speed Figures; no match for top 3 in the San Felipe (G2)

Outlook: At this point, his ceiling is being a “hit the board” type in the big races.

10. Prevalence

Pros: Tremendous pedigree; plenty of upside

Cons: Late to the game; low Beyer Speed Figures; recent race not overly impressive

Outlook: He’ll get one shot to make the gate in the last round of prep races. He’s got talent, but is he just a little too late to the game at this point?

( Content Continues Below Ad )

11. Proxy

Pros: Ultra-consistent; distance pedigree; classy

Cons: Hasn’t finished the job in a stakes

Outlook: Simply put, he wasn’t able to finish the job in either of his Fair Grounds stakes efforts. At this point, you can’t bet him to win until he proves he can do it against stakes company.

12. Helium

Pros: Undefeated horse; should improve next out

Cons: Very low Beyer Speed Figures; defeated a weak field; training up to the Derby

Outlook: It was impressive that this horse could win the Tampa Bay Derby (G2) off a layoff, plus it was his first start on dirt. This will be his only race before the Kentucky Derby, though, which is not ideal.

13. Weyburn

Pros: Massive improvement in the Gotham (G3); distance pedigree

Cons: Still has some proving to do; Gotham could have been a fluke

Outlook: I’m squarely on the fence with him at this point. The Wood Memorial (G2) will tell us a lot about him.

14. Hozier

Pros: Bob Baffert; steadily improving

Cons: Still has a long way to go before catching up to his top stablemates

Outlook: His improvement from race to race has been solid, but he still has a long ways to go to become a legit contender.

15. Highly Motivated

Pros: Multiple quality wins; Chad Brown

Cons: Possible distance limitations; lackluster 2021 debut 

Outlook: I’d like to give him one more chance in a final prep before writing him off completely. He was so-so in the Gotham (G3), but he has a right to improve next out.

16. Rombauer 

Pros: Can run on any surface

Cons: Speed figures suggest he lacks enough speed

Outlook: His ability to win on synthetic could be key for him making the Derby, but still he has some major improving to do before he’s considered a prime contender.

17. Mandaloun

Pros: Brad Cox; enough points (52) to make the Derby gate; running style suited for Derby

Cons: Absolute no-show in the Louisiana Derby (G2)

Outlook: You can’t be confident in him now after his non-effort in the Louisiana Derby (G2). He was in the perfect position to win; however, he was empty in the stretch.

18. Spielberg

Pros: Bob Baffert; pedigree

Cons: Very inconsistent; overall talent level very questionable

Outlook: He’s the horse that just won’t go away. Every time you try to write him off, he comes back with an effort just good enough to stay on the list. Baffert will probably get him to the Derby, but he really shouldn’t have much of a chance.

19. Brooklyn Strong

Pros: Solid as a 2-year-old; proven at longer distances

Cons: Late to the game; long layoff  

Outlook: It looks like he’s shooting for the Wood Memorial (G2) as his first race as a 3-year-old. That will be a tough ask, but he owns a win over the track and at the Wood’s distance.

20. Collaborate

Pros: Ultra impressive maiden special weight win

Cons: Running out of time; must face winners for the first time in a Grade 1 race 

Outlook: There is no doubt this horse has ability; however, can he win the Florida Derby (G1) in his first race against winners and first race going long?

Join the Inner Circle

Sign up for exclusive 10% discount on orders, plus be the first to access our daily free and premium horse racing picks, articles, podcasts, and more!

Sign Up