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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!
Arkansas Derby Preview: Pivotal Race for 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. We’ll see him this weekend in the Arkansas Derby (G1).
Pros: Brad Cox; distance pedigree; class of the crop; undefeated
Cons: Paddling running motion seems to be getting worse
Outlook: He’ll go into the Kentucky Derby (G1) as an undefeated champion, which is obviously exciting. This horse has done nothing wrong in any of his starts.
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 second-highest among active Derby contenders.
Pros: Strong effort first time going two-turns; progressing at the right time
Cons: Distance limitations are possible
Outlook: This guy showed a lot in the Blue Grass Stakes (G2), nearly pulling off the upset. He should be ready to run his biggest race yet; however, will the distance of the Derby be to his liking? That’s the major question mark.
Pros: Highest speed figure among active contenders; defeated a strong field; running style suited for the Derby
Cons: Only 1 start on dirt
Outlook: There is no doubt his Santa Anita Derby (G1) victory was very impressive, and if he can repeat that type of performance, he’ll have a big shot. Can this horse continue to improve/prove his form on the dirt?
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: Multiple great 2021 efforts; early speed; Bob Baffert
Cons: Multiple second place efforts by several lengths
Outlook: He’s shown heart and toughness in his last four starts; however, he seems to be a bit below the top horses in the crop.
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: Excellent pedigree; “The Shugster” Shug McGaughey
Cons: Jay Privman of DRF reported April 7 that he will be turned out and miss the Triple Crown
Outlook: He took advantage of a weak group in Florida this year and seemed like a “hit the board” type for the Kentucky Derby.
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.
Kentucky Derby Contenders Pedigree Analysis: Rock Your World
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: 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: 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: 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.
Pros: Can run on any surface
Cons: Speed figures suggest he lacks enough speed; no early turn of foot
Outlook: He actually ran pretty well in the Blue Grass Stakes (G2), finishing third. He was no threat to the top two, though, and that is unlikely to change.
Pros: Win on a big stage
Cons: The Dubai horse never runs well here; rumored to be skipping Kentucky for the Belmont Stakes (G1)
Outlook: We have to rank him somewhere because he won the UAE Derby (G1), which gave him enough points to qualify. It’s hard to take him seriously, though.
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. He’s aiming for this weekend’s Lexington Stakes (G3) and may head for the Preakness Stakes (G1) or Belmont Stakes (G1) next.
Pros: Recent win shows he’s improving
Cons: Still very slow compared to the rest of the field.
Outlook: The 72/1 upset Wood Memorial (G2) winner earned his way into the field, but he must take another giant step forward in the Derby to have a shot.
Pros: Solid distance pedigree
Cons: Slow numbers; only one victory on his resume.
Outlook: This Todd Pletcher trainee nearly pulled off an upset in the Wood Memorial (G2), only to be beaten late by his stablemate. Like his stablemate, he’ll need to show improvement to have a shot on the first Saturday in May.
Cons: Slow numbers; pedigree leans towards turf
Outlook: He’s slow, but he seems to be getting better with each start, so that’s a positive. He might be a good horse down the line; however, the Derby seems like a stretch.
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