Crazy to believe, but the 2021 Kentucky Derby is less than
three-months away. It seems like the last one was just a few weeks ago;
probably because it kind of was with its COVID-rescheduled September 5th
With just three Kentucky Derby Future Wagering Pools
remaining, horseplayers will get value if they can pick tomorrow's winner
today, so to speak. Pool number three opens on February 12th and
closes on the 14th. Maybe we can find some Louisville love for this
Now could be a good time to take stock of the horses on the
2021 Road to the Kentucky Derby to separate the contenders from the pretenders
and, more importantly, see if we can't find some future pool betting value.
ESSENTAIL QUALITY is perched atop the current standings with
30 qualifying points. The majestic grey with a black mane and tail has a pair
of Grade I, qualifying wins on his three-race resume. He made easy work of a
nine-horse field in the Breeders' Cup Futurity in his second start and followed
it up with another trip to the winners' circle it the Breeders' Cup Juvenile,
both at Keeneland.
KEEPMEINMIND is in a familiar position behind ESSENTIAL
QUALITY and second in Derby points now with 18. The Cypress Creek colt finished
behind the points' pacesetter in Keeneland's Futurity (2nd) and BC
Juvenile (3rd). He finally hit the tape first in his last outing,
the Grade II Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes at Churchill.
MIDNIGHT BOURBON is third with 16 points and shared the
Churchill track with 2020 Horse of the Year and Kentucky Derby titleholder
AUTHENTIC. He came home second to SITTIN ON GO in the Grade II, Iroquois
Stakes, which was the first stop on the 2021 Road to the Derby. Since then, the
well-traveled Steven Asmussen trainee has collected some points in Belmont's
Champagne Stakes and in the Lecomte Stakes at Fair Grounds.
MEDINA SPIRIT is number four with 14. He won his debut at
Los Alamitos and then ran second to LIFE IS GOOD in the Grade II Sham Stakes at
Santa Anita. He followed up his runner-up finish with another win of his own in
Saturday's Robert B. Lewis Stakes (Grade III), also at Santa Anita. He nosed out
ROMAN CENTURIAN and HOT ROD CHARLIE for the 10 Lewis' Derby points in a
hard-fought grab of the checkered flag.
SPIELBERG is ranked number five with 13 un... lucky points.
Trainer Bob Baffert's horse just got his butt whooped in the Robert B. Lewis
Stakes, fourth by a long, long way. Prior to that, he scored in the Los
Alamitos Futurity in what looks like a weak field in hindsight.
At number six with a dozen points sits JACKIE'S WARRIOR who won
his first four races, including the Champagne Stakes, and was the favorite to
win the Breeders' Cup Juvenile. Jockey Joel Rosario had him on the lead in the
stretch, but his horse just didn't have the late legs to get it done, ending
his day fourth behind ESSENTIAL QUALITY, HOT ROD CHARLIE and KEEPMEINMIND. He's
been in the barn since November and probably needed a rest.
A pile of eight horses are tied for seventh on the Road to
this year's Kentucky Derby with 10 points, a trio of them, for different
reasons, have our eye.
CADDO RIVER is probably not a name at the top of the
contenders' list for most. He's coming off a blowout win in the non-graded
Smarty Jones Stakes, whacking fellow 10 pointer COWAN by 10 ¼ lengths. Ahh, but
it's not the Oaklawn beatdown that puts CADDO RIVER on this list. It's the 104
Equibase speed figure he ran at Churchill Downs in his third crack at the
maiden win. He just might be a horse for the course.
GREATEST HONOUR is another with that you won't find on most
other lists. However, in handicapping the Holy Bull some numbers popped off the
page. His late pace numbers are through the roof. If he's in contention coming
out of the final turn on Derby day, the frontrunners better have plenty left in
their legs; otherwise, he's going to blow right on by and straight into the
history books. Right now, he's probably my top longshot pick because of those
If the 2021 Kentucky Derby was today, LIFE IS GOOD might be
the post time favorite. He's won twice, including the Sham stakes in his second
go around on the track. He topped MEDINA SPIRIT who came back to win the Robert
B. Lewis Stakes. His maiden and Sham Equibase Speed number were both triple
digits, hitting 112 on the gun in his last. Just one of the last 12 to wear the
roses ran a number that big. Triple Crown winner JUSTIFY tied LIFE IS GOOD's
mark in 2018.
If he runs the same race the first Saturday in May, it will
take something special to beat LIFE IS GOOD. The scary thing is jockey Mike Smith
didn't ask for much from his horse in the SHAM. Odds are, he has more, maybe a
lot more. Triple Crown Contender? Yes.
Get today's full picks for all tracks and races at Guaranteed Tip Sheet.