It may not seem that long ago since the 2020 Kentucky Derby took place, with Authentic shocking many by winning at odds of 8/1.

The success meant that Bob Baffert became the most successful trainer at the prestigious event, and he will once again be looking for success in the 2021 event.

Many gamblers will be keeping a close eye on the ante-post market for the huge event, as they would be able to get better value on their selections at this point. But, who are the favourites for the huge race in May according to the ante-post markets?

Essential Quality

The clear favourite in the betting at present is Essential Quality for trainer Brad Cox. The horse is owned by Godolphin, who are yet to win a single Kentucky Derby despite their dominance around the world. However, this could be their best chance in years to win the Kentucky Derby.

Essential Quality has won on all three previous starts to this point and is easily one of the standout horses to watch in 2021 for American racing fans. His first start came at Churchill Downs, as he won the six-furlong Maiden Special Weight by four lengths from King’s Mischief.

That victory immediately got gamblers purring, and it was soon followed up with another big success at Keeneland in October. On that occasion, he won the Grade 1 Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity.

He managed to outlast the challenge from Keepmeinmind in that race to win by three and a quarter length. His most recent run came at the beginning of November, as he won the TVG Breeders’ Cup Juvenile.

That success by three-quarters of a length from Hot Rod Charlie ensures that he will be the standout horse in the Kentucky Derby at present.

Jackie’s Warrior

Steven Asmussen is yet to train a winner of the Kentucky Derby, but he will have an excellent chance judging by the form that Jackie’s Warrior showed during the 2020 season.

The two-year-old was dominant in winning four of his five starts, but gamblers will be wary of betting on the horse at this point after it finished over three lengths behind Essential Quality at the Breeders’ Cup. However, it is hard to ignore the success that it achieved before that race, and it will likely improve with more runs over the longer distance.

That run at the Breeders’ Cup was the first time that Jackie’s Warrior had run over one mile and a half, but he was dominant over the shorter distances.

He won over five and six furlongs in his first two races at Churchill Downs and Saratoga respectively.

Jackie’s Warrior beat Therideofalifetime on both of those occasions. His dominance continued when stepped up to seven furlongs, as he beat Reinvestment Risk by two and a quarter lengths at Saratoga.

His final run before Keeneland came at Belmont Part in October, as he won by five and a half lengths from Reinvestment Risk in the Champagne Stakes. He will be a difficult horse to ignore this season and could be the next best thing.


Despite falling short against Essential Quality on two of his four career starts, there were glimpses that Keepmeinmind was beginning to find his form towards the end of the 2020 season.

There is every indication that the Kentucky Derby will be the next stop for the Robertino Diodoro-trained horse, and he has already run on two occasions at Churchill Downs.

His first run at the track came over one mile in his first start, where there were positives to take from his second-place finish behind Arabian Prince. Gamblers would have been excited to see this horse next season after witnessing his first career win on his most recent start at Churchill Downs.

Keepmeinmind was successful in the Grade 2 Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes at the end of November, where he saw off the challenge laid down by Smiley Sobotka. However, gamblers may be waiting a while longer before deciding whether this is their winner for the Kentucky Derby next year.

Here you have our early top picks for the horses to watch at next year’s Kentucky Derby. To stay updated with the latest odds check out


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