147th Kentucky Derby field and ML
Unbeaten champion Essential Quality has been installed as the 2-1 favorite on the morning line for Saturday’s $3 million Kentucky Derby (G1). Drawn in post 14, the homebred gray will try to become the first Derby winner for the global Godolphin operation, sire Tapit, and trainer Brad Cox. Regular rider Luis Saez had been aboard the disqualified Maximum Security in 2019.
As the reigning Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) winner, Essential Quality aims to turn the rare Derby double like Street Sense (2007) and Nyquist (2016). He comes off a victory in the Blue Grass (G2) over Highly Motivated from the barn of Chad Brown, who is very selective in taking his shots at the Derby.
Also undefeated is Santa Anita Derby (G1) hero Rock Your World, the 5-1 second choice for John Sadler who is looking for his first Kentucky Derby. The Santa Anita Derby runner-up, Medina Spirit, hopes to give trainer Bob Baffert a record-breaking seventh Kentucky Derby trophy.
Florida Derby (G1) winner Known Agenda spearheads a four-pronged team for two-time Derby winner Todd Pletcher, along with the top two from the Wood Memorial (G2), Bourbonic and Dynamic One, and Jeff Ruby Steaks (G3) second Sainthood. The Jeff Ruby victor, Like the King, is the first Derby starter for trainer Wesley Ward.
Trainer Doug O’Neill seeks his third Derby with Hot Rod Charlie, most recently a track record-setting winner of the Louisiana Derby (G2) over Midnight Bourbon and O Besos. Mandaloun, a disappointing sixth as the Louisiana Derby favorite, looks to rebound for Cox.
Hall of Famer Steve Asmussen, still in pursuit of his first Derby, is double-handed with Midnight Bourbon and recent Arkansas Derby (G1) upsetter Super Stock. Hall of Fame inductee Mark Casse also sends out a duo of Florida Derby runner-up Soup and Sandwich as well as Helium, last seen landing the Tampa Bay Derby (G2).
King Fury just booked his ticket by winning the Lexington (G3) on the last day of qualifying for the Derby, while Kentucky Jockey Club (G2) hero Keepmeminmind and Remsen (G2) scorer Brooklyn Strong achieved their marquee victories last fall.