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Kentucky Derby Top 20 Rankings 3/31/21
Known Agenda winning the Florida Derby (Credit: Coglianese Photos)

Kentucky Derby Top 20 Rankings 3/31/21

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!

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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. It’s all about moving forward now, with the Blue Grass (G2) in his sights this weekend.

3. Medina Spirit

Pros: Multiple 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. 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 this weekend in the Wood Memorial (G2). 

6. 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.

7. 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).

8. 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.

9. Known Agenda

Pros: Developing at the right time; distance pedigree

Cons: Just a step slower than his main rivals; multiple losses on his resume

Outlook: Todd Pletcher deserves credit for getting the horse to pop at the perfect time. His Florida Derby (G1) win was solid and his pedigree will give him a chance in Kentucky.

10. Greatest Honour

Pros: Excellent pedigree; “The Shugster” Shug McGaughey

Cons: Low Beyer Speed Figures remain an issue; no match for top two in the Florida Derby (G1)

Outlook: He took advantage of a weak group in Florida this year. He’s a “hit the board” type in the Kentucky Derby, but that is probably his ceiling.

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11. 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 this weekend in the Wood Memorial Stakes (G2). He’s got talent, but is he just a little too late to the game at this point?

12. 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.

13. Soup and Sandwich

Pros: Solid running style; rapidly improving with each start

Cons: Horrific name; still lacks experience; speed figures a tad low

Outlook: This guy could be interesting at a big number. He’s trending in the right direction, getting better with each race, and his front-end speed should help him on the first Saturday in May.

14. 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.

15. 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.

16. 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.

17. Rombauer 

Pros: Can run on any surface

Cons: Speed figures suggest he lacks enough speed

Outlook: We’ll see how he does this weekend in the Blue Grass (G2), which will be his first race of the year on dirt.

18. 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.

19. Brooklyn Strong

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

Cons: Late to the game; long layoff  

Outlook: We’ll see him in the Wood Memorial (G2) this weekend for 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. Like the King

Pros: He has the points to make the gate

Cons: Everything else

Outlook: He fought hard to win the Jeff Ruby Steaks (G3), which is admirable. The test at Churchill Downs will be much tougher for him, though.

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