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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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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