Kentucky Derby Hopefuls Arrive at Churchill Downs

Horse Racing Radar
Valerie Mellema
Valerie Mellema is a Staff writer for Horse Racing Radar
Friday, April 16, 2021

We're just weeks away from the Kentucky Derby and trainers have begun shipping their horses to Churchill Downs in preparation for the first weekend in May. The current lineup for the 2021 Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve includes:

  1. Essential Quality - 140 points

  2. Hot Rod Charlie - 110 points

  3. Super Stock - 109 points

  4. Like the King - 104 points

  5. Known Agenda - 102 points

  6. Rock Your World - 100 points

  7. Bourbonic - 100 points

  8. Medina Spirit - 74 points

  9. Concert Tour - 70 points

  10. Midnight Bourbon - 66 points

  11. Mandaloun - 52 points

  12. Caddo River - 50 points

  13. Highly Motivated - 50 points

  14. Helium - 50 points

  15. Soup and Sandwich - 40 points

  16. Dynamic One - 40 points

  17. Crowded Trade - 40 points

  18. Sainthood - 40 points

  19. Rombauer - 34 points

  20. Hidden Stash - 32 points

Of the 20 horses in the field, trainer Todd Pletcher has the most contenders with four. KNOWN AGENDA earned points with his first place finish in the Florida Derby (G1), 5th place finish in the Sam F. Davis Stakes (G3) at Tampa Bay and a 3rd in the Remsen Stakes (G2) at Aqueduct. He is owned and bred by St. Elias Stable. BOURBONIC is owned and bred by Calumet Farm and earned his 100 points winning the Wood Memorial Stakes (G2) at Aqueduct. DYNAMIC ONE earned 40 points finishing second in the Wood Memorial (G2). He was bred by Phipps Stable and is owned by Repole Stable, Phipps Stable and St. Elias Stable. Finally, he has SAINTHOOD who finished second in the Jeff Ruby Steaks Stakes (G3). He is bred by Edward Taylor & Springland Farm and owned by CHC, Inc. and WinStar Farm LLC.

Behind Todd with three horses in the race is Brad Cox. ESSENTIAL QUALITY sits at the top of the leaderboard with 140 points. He will likely be the morning line favorite considering his epic unbeaten resume - Claiborne Breeders Futurity (G1), Breeders' Cup Juvenile (G1), Southwest Stakes (G3) and Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (G2). The TAPIT colt is bred and owned by Godolphin. Next Cox has Mandaloun with 52 points. Bred and owned by Juddmonte Farms, he earned his points with a 3rd in the Lecomte Stakes (G3), a first in the Risen Star Stakes (G2) and a sixth in the Louisiana Derby (G2). CADDO RIVER is owned and bred by Shortleaf Stable. He won the Smarty Jones Stakes and finished second in the Arkansas Derby (G1). However, as of Thursday, April 15th CADDO RIVER's owner, John Ed Anthony, is not so sure about sending his homebred to the Derby according to an article by Horse Racing Nation, stating "Shortleaf Stable will never run in the Triple Crown races spaced the way they are. I've lost too many horses."

Bob Baffert has two potential contenders in CONCERT TOUR and MEDINA SPIRIT. After the Arkansas Derby, Baffert says that he is "noncommittal" to a start in the Derby for CONCERT TOUR. The colt earned his points by winning the Rebel Stakes (G2) but then finishing third in the Arkansas Derby (G1). He is bred and owned by Gary & Mary West. Baffert did say that the colt will ship to Churchill and then they will see how he works. MEDINA SPIRIT sits just above CONCERT TOUR on the leaderboard and earned his points with a 2nd in the Sham (G3), the San Felipe Stakes (G2) and the Santa Anita Derby (G1). He finished first in the Robert B. Lewis Stakes (G3) at Santa Anita as well. The colt was bred by Gail Rice and is owned by Zedan Racing Stable.

Trainer Chad Brown has two potential entries in HIGHLY MOTIVATED and CROWDED TRADE. Both are owned by Klaravich Stables. The horses are 13th and 18th on the leaderboard, but Brown only plans to run HIGHLY MOTIVATED in the Derby, who finished second behind ESSENTIAL QUALITY in the Blue Grass Stakes (G2). He is leaning towards a Preakness start for CROWDED TRADE. CROWDED TRADE was most recently third behind the 72-1 BOURBONIC in the Wood Memorial (G2).

Steve Asmussen has two contenders in MIDNIGHT BOURBON and SUPER STOCK. MIDNIGHT BOURBON sits ranked 10th on the leaderboard with 66 points for owner Winchell Thoroughbreds LLC. He was bred by Stonestreet Thoroughbred Holdings LLC. On the Road to the Kentucky Derby since September he started the journey with a second place finish in the Iroquois Stakes (G3), 3rd in the Champagne Stakes (G1), a win in the Lecomte Stakes (G3), a third in the Risen Star Stakes (G2) and finally a second place finish in the Louisiana Derby (G2). SUPER STOCK also ran in the Iroquois (G3) finishing third, then picked up another third in the Claiborne Breeders' Futurity (G1), and then solidified his start in the Derby by winning the Arkansas Derby (G1).

Trainer Mark Casse has two potential entries in HELIUM and SOUP AND SANDWICH. Both horses find themselves on the list after starts in just one Derby prep race each. HELIUM earned his 50 points by winning the Tampa Bay Derby (G2) for owners D. J. Stable and breeders Teneri Farm Inc. and Bernardo Alvarez Calderon. SOUP AND SANDWICH has 40 points that he earned finishing second in the Florida Derby (G1). He is owned by Live Oak Plantation and bred by Live Oak Stud.

PANADOL was on our list for trainer Salem Bin Ghadayer, but the runner up in the UAE Derby (G2) will not be traveling to Kentucky. This means that there will be no international horses in the race this year. 

It is also shaping up to look like ROMBAUER, for trainer Michael McCarty, may not be entering the starting gates on Derby day, although he is still on the official leaderboard. 

This opened up a spot for Victoria Oliver's HIDDEN STASH. The chestnut colt is owned by BBN Racing LLC and bred by Rhineshire Farm LLC. While he hasn't won a Derby prep race, he has been in the money and the points with a third in the Sam F. Davis Stakes (G3), second in the Tampa Bay Derby (G2) and a fourth in the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (G2). Wednesday morning the colt put in the fastest work of the morning at Keeneland with a bullet half mile of :47.80. If by chance HIDDEN STASH makes it to the wire first on Derby Day, he will make Oliver the first woman trainer to win the Derby. 

Feature Photos: Known Agenda (Coglianese Photos), Super Stock (Coady Photography) and Dynamic One (Coglianese Photos)


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