Most BetOnline customers are well aware of the particulars associated with the Kentucky Derby. It’s run at a distance of a mile and a half, at the legendary Churchill Downs in Louisville.
The total purse is $2 million, and it is, of course, the first leg of the Triple Crown, with the Preakness and Belmont to follow.
Post time is 6:57 PM ET, and NBC will televise it.
BetOnline will have some very lively contests you can play that specifically relate to the Derby; you can read about them below.
Let’s take a quick look at some of the contenders, with post positions in parentheses, and take note of a late development, as King Fury was scratched on Friday.
(14) Essential Quality +250
Is it any surprise that this horse is the favorite? After all, you’re talking about the biggest money-winner in this field, and by a wide margin. Essential Quality has tallied $2,265,144 in purses; next in line is Hot Rod Charlie at $1,005,700.
Essential Quality is a perfect five-for-five, and comes off a win in the Blue Grass Stakes. Notably, among his victories was the Breeders Cup Juvenile last fall. But what’s interesting is that winners of that race have gone on to win the Derby only twice in 36 tries.
He is out of the Godolphin stable; his owner, Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid al Maktoum, who is also the ruler of Dubai, is in the midst of a world of controversy. He’s got one daughter who has claimed that she is being held against her will, and another daughter disappeared and has been missing for almost 21 years.
This creates an atmosphere of suspicion, to say the least, and human rights groups have stepped forward to protest that the Sheikh shouldn’t be allowed to enter any horses in the Derby, or in Kentucky at all. But that has more or less fallen on deaf ears with the racing commission.
And the commission may have been the only that would have stopped this horse, in the opinion of some.
But not all.
(15) Rock Your World +500
John Sadler’s charge has had only three races, but needs to be taken seriously. The first two came on the turf, and then with the move to the dirt came a thunderous romp in the Santa Anita Derby, in which he never trailed.
(1) Known Agenda +750
As Todd Pletcher’s biggest hope in the Derby, Known Agenda is perhaps unknown to a certain extent. The two victories that have taken place in 2021 have come with blinkers on, and after a switch to Irad Ortiz in the saddle.
So BetOnline customers might figure this is the contender to challenge Essential Quality. But catching the rail in a race like this is often a handicap, as the #1 post position has not produced a winner since Ferdinand in 1986.
(17) Highly Motivated +800
One of the things you have to like about a horse is when he goes out to the lead and gets a challenge from a formidable favorite,and then DOESN’T fold the tent while the favorite blows by.
And that was the case in the Blue Grass Stakes at Lexington, as Highly Motivated got out in front, and while he was not able to hold off Essential Quality, he hung very gamely right to the end in an Ali-Frazier-like duel.
This represented a change in strategy on the part of trainer Chad Brown and jockey Javier Castellano, and it nearly resulted in a sensational wire-to-wire victory. So will they try that approach again in a field that could have some others setting fractions that are a little more…. brisk? It will be harder to break to the front out of the #17 position.
(9) Hot Rod Charlie +900
In many cases, this race is run by horses who have not yet gone a mile and a quarter. Therefore, it can provide a certain edge when they’ve done it. In the case of Hot Rod Charlie, not only has he run this distance, he has won the 1-1/4 mile Louisiana Derby.
Flavien Prat is aboard here; you might remember that he is the jockey who won the 2019 Derby in a huge upset with Country House after Maximum Security got taken down. Trainer Doug O’Neill has had six Derby entrants and won it twice, with I’ll Have Another and Nyquist.
(8) Medina Spirit +1000
This horse has never finished lower than second in five career starts. That included second-place to Rock Your World in the Santa Anita Derby. Can Bob Baffert pull this off? Last year he won it with Authentic, and with jockey John Velasquez, who’ll be in the irons here.
(10) Midnight Bourbon +2000
Well, this is one that intrigues. Like Hot Rod Charlie, Steve Asmussen’s bay colt ran a mile and a quarter in the Louisiana Derby. Midnight Bourbon has never been out of the money, and with the jockey change to Mike Smith, some are forecasting a surprise, so consideration in the exotics may be very much in order.
It will be incredible if Essential Quality engages in a shootout as was the case in the Blue Grass. Between Highly Motivated, Known Agenda and Hot Rod Charlie, there might be someone to take the undefeated Derby favorite down.
Don’t forget that BetOnline has some amazing things in store for all the Triple Crown races. For the Kentucky Derby, you can get involved with two big contests – there is the $10,000 Kentucky Derby Props Contest, which will challenge you to get ten props correctly. And then there is the $10,000 Kentucky Derby First & Last, which is just what the name implies – pick the first and last place finishers and win a share of the $10,000 prize!