Three 2021 Kentucky Derby Prep Races Expert Analysis

Three 2021 Kentucky Derby Prep Races Expert Analysis

Written by on April 2, 2021

Three of the most important Kentucky Derby preps happen on Saturday, April 3. The Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland, the Wood Memorial at Aqueduct, and the Santa Anita Derby at Santa Anita Park should help shape the field for the Run for the Roses on May 1. Check out analysis and picks for each one of Saturday’s massive Derby preps. Also, check out top plays and Horse Racing Odds from Kentucky Derby for Saturday, May 1. You can also visit our Online Racebook to place your bets on active racetracks 

Kentucky Derby: Wood, Santa Anita, and Blue Grass Will Shape May 1 Field

2021 Kentucky Derby

  • When: Saturday, May 1, 2021
  • Where: Churchill Downs, Louisville, KY

2021 Kentucky Derby Top 10

  1. Concert Tour +350
  2. Essential Quality +600
  3. Hot Rod Charlie +800
  4. Medina Spirit +1400
  5. Weyburn +2500
  6. Crowded Trade 
  7. Midnight Bourbon +2000
  8. Risk Taking +1200 
  9. Hozier +2500
  10. Highly Motivated +2500

Essential Quality a 3/5 morning line to win the Blue Grass

Without a doubt, 4-0 Essential Quality should offer favorite’s odds to win the Blue Grass at Keeneland. The Brad Cox and Godolphin owned runner has done nothing wrong. He easily won the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile in 2020 and took the Grade 3 Southwest as if his competition were walking.

But the top-rated three-year-old in training hasn’t run as fast as he must to win a race like the Blue Grass. Not only that, but a few horses in the Blue Grass should take big forward steps.

Untreated heads into this after a maiden score. Todd Pletcher trains and sire Nyquist won the 2016 Kentucky Derby. The $300,000 purchase broke the maiden by 8 ½ lengths. Joel Rosario rides. So at the 10/1 morning line, we’re biting.

Essential Quality should finish second, but we like the looks of Chad Brown trained Highly Motivated. The Into Mischief sired colt failed to catch Crowded Trade and Weyburn in the Gotham in his last. The Brown runner is bred to relish the 1 1/8 mile distance, though. Also, he bobbled at the start of the Gotham. With a clean break, Highly Motivated may have won.

Essential Quality should finish third. The 3/5 odds assume he towers over this field, but he doesn’t. Not only that but Cox’s other top three-year-olds, Mandaloun and Caddo River, both bombed in their latest Derby preps. 

  • First – Untreated
  • Second – Highly Motivated
  • Third – Essential Quality 

Santa Anita Derby wide-open

After Life Is Good scratched, the 2021 Santa Anita Derby became wide open. Bob Baffert’s second-string colt, Medina Spirit, will go off the chalk. But even though he finished second in his last, Medina Spirit shows declining form.

Instead of backing Medina Spirit, why not take a shot on 10/1 on the morning line Law Professor? The Mike McCarthy trained runner broke his maiden in his last with a better speed rating than what Medina Spirit shows for the San Felipe second-place. The works are decent enough and Constitution sired while Tapit is his broodmare’s sire. 

The Great One had nothing but trouble in the Grade 2 San Felipe. He broke in, bumped, and then didn’t seem to try. Since the disastrous race, two-time Kentucky Derby winner Doug O’Neil has put in a couple of works. The Great One could show a much improved effort on Saturday. 

John Sadler puts the saddle on Rock Your World. The Candy Ride sired runner is undefeated after two starts. Ah, but both victories happened over the grass and the Santa Anita Derby is a dirt race. Before deriding this one’s chances, though, realize that Sadler wins 22% with ponies going turf to dirt.

  • First – Law Professor
  • Second – The Great One
  • Third – Rock Your World    

Whichever horse wins the Wood Memorial is a legit Kentucky Derby contender

The Wood Memorial is going to have to work for the victory. That’s why we must consider whichever horse wins the Wood on Saturday a legitimate Derby contender.

Prevalence and Risk Taking will go off first and second choice. Neither could break into the top three. 

After Weyburn won the Grade 3 Gotham, trainer James Jerkens said he may skip the Derby with the son of Pioneerof the Nile and instead point to the Belmont Stakes. Jerkens will think differently if Weyburn wins the Wood Memorial. The gutsy victory over Crowded Trade was a thing of beauty. Weyburn is bred to be a champion, Pioneerof the Nile sired American Pharoah and his mother, Sunday Affair, calls A.P. Indy dad. Weyburn should take another forward step and can run close to the pace, stalk, or come from the clouds.

Crowded Trade has the breeding to run and win at 1 1/8 miles. The Chad Brown trainee lost the Gotham to Weyburn by a nose. He can turn the tables, no doubt, and rates a strong second-choice in this. 

Danny Velasquez trained Brooklyn Strong has won two in a row and is 3-of-4 lifetime. He’s got a big chance to win the Wood, but this is his first race since winning the Grade 2 Remsen last November. He may need one before showing his best. 

  • First – Weyburn
  • Second – Crowded Trade
  • Third – Brooklyn Strong