Top 3 Kentucky Derby Contenders 2021

Horse Racing Radar
Rich Bieglmeier
Rich Bieglmeier is a Staff writer for Horse Racing Radar
Sunday, March 28, 2021

With just five-weeks and just six qualifying races remaining before the 2021 Kentucky Derby, horseplayers need to get started with their pre-derby homework. One of the first tasks is to get your rankings in order. We can help you get started with our Top 3 Kentucky Derby Contenders 2021 style.


PROS: He's probably number 1 on most lists and probably deservedly so as he's undefeated in four starts and won his debut at Churchill Downs. He is versatile as he can run from the front, middle or back and shown he can win on slop. The son of TAPIT also seem to get better the longer the race and is one of eight in the current Kentucky Derby futures pool to hit 100 or more on the Brisnet Speed gun.

CONS: The level of competition he's faced is suspect at best. Yes, he did beat HOT ROD CHARLIE in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile and HRC came back to win the Louisiana Derby at Fair Grounds against quite a few that are likely to be in the Kentucky Derby. However, Fair Grounds had an insane speed bias on La Derby day, and we aren't sure how much track bias aided HOT ROD CHARLIE. The only other name Derby contender ESSENTIAL QUALITY beat was SPIELBERG and he is not a contender coming off his Florida Derby performance.


PROS: He is fresh from a fantastic win in the Florida Derby versus a strong field of potential Kentucky Derby runners. He ran a little green at the end of his Florida Derby win but left no doubt. Unlike the Louisiana Derby that has produced just two Kentucky Derby winners in the past 100 years, the Florida Derby accounts for seven since 2000 (hat tip- Triple Clowns). He appears to have regained his form with jockey Irad Ortiz, Jr in the irons and it will be interesting to see who Irad rides on Derby Day.

CONS: His Florida Derby win was green as he was all over the track late. He's also been a little lackadaisical at the start of races too. KNOWN AGENDA has been inconsistent and doesn't appear to always give it his all. He cannot afford to be green or unengaged on the first Saturday of May.


PROS: He is the best of the Bob Baffert Horses left. With LIFE IS GOOD sidelined due to injury and SPIELBERG's Florida Derby performance, CONCERT TOUR is the uber trainer's best hope at his fourth Kentucky Derby title since 2015 and his seventh overall. Baffert's horse is undefeated in three starts and took it easy in two of them. CONCERT TOUR is a frontrunner and speed has been the way to the Kentucky Derby winners' circle.

CONS: He is lightly raced and hasn't faced top quality company yet. Baffert has been non-committal on where he'll send CONCERT TOUR next, but our guess is the Arkansas Derby on April 10th. It's the same path Baffert's AMERICAN PHAROAH took in the two races prior to his Kentucky Derby run. We'll know more about CONCERT TOUR in two weeks, and he will move up/down our rankings then.

Number 1 longshot: REBEL'S ROMANCE (IRE)

PROS: He impressively won the UAE Derby at 1 3/16 miles and appeared to have plenty left in the tank. You know, the 1 ΒΌ miles for the Kentucky Derby will not be a problem for the Godolphin horse. If you watch the UAE Derby video (he's #10), the power move in the final turn and late run has the look of a Derby winner.

CONS: He's won four of five races all of them on an all-weather track and synthetic tends to translate better to turf than grass. His lone miss was concerning as he was making a strong late move in the Saudi Derby but flattened and ended fourth. He'll need to be more UAE than Saudi and show he can handle Churchill's surface to factor in Louisville.


Get today's full picks for all tracks and races at Guaranteed Tip Sheet.