2021 Kentucky Derby one-liners

Profile Picture: Kellie Reilly

April 30th, 2021

If you’re finding it challenging to sift through the Kentucky Derby (G1) contenders this year, you’re not alone.

Trainer Todd Pletcher, a two-time Derby winner who has four going in the race, sees a well-matched field at Churchill Downs.

“It looks like a fairly wide-open year. I don’t see anybody I’m really afraid of. But on the other hand, I don’t see anybody I’d leave out.”

After all the analysis, the final verdict rests as much on intuition as on data. So here’s my summary judgment of each runner, in post-position order.

#1 Known Agenda

Newfound dominance since adding blinkers, but must deal with the traffic challenges of the rail post.

#2 Like the King

Improving sort won a weaker prep on synthetic and has something to prove on dirt.

#3 Brooklyn Strong

Training over the winter was compromised by illness and bad weather, and it’s asking a lot off a fifth in his belated prep.

#4 Keepmeinmind

Affinity for Churchill and blinkers off might help him run back to juvenile form.

#5 Sainthood

Consistency could carry him more than his bare form suggests.

#6 O Besos

Closer figures to gain late but can’t drop too far back and needs luck in trip.

#7 Mandaloun

Eye-catching works point to a rebound, although the flop in his final prep, six weeks out, isn’t textbook.

#8 Medina Spirit

Tough battler can be outkicked but can’t be outgamed.

#9 Hot Rod Charlie

Tactical type should work out an advantageous trip.

#10 Midnight Bourbon

Pedigree hints we haven’t seen his best yet.

#11 Dynamic One

Wide trip might have cost him last time, but he remains a work in progress.

#12 Helium

Unbeaten colt overcame adversity in his latest, but tough to tackle this off an eight-week layoff.

#13 Hidden Stash

Flashes of talent and form over the track won’t be enough, unless he finally gets his racing brain together.

#14 Essential Quality

Champion has gotten the job done every time, although overall impression is more solid than spectacular.

#15 Rock Your World

Star quality from day one, if raw ability can offset inexperience.

#16 King Fury

Pattern so far has been impressing versus lesser, only to disappoint on the big stage.

#17 Highly Motivated

Efforts in defeat look like beneficial stepping stones to this main objective.

#18 Super Stock

Perfect-trip winner last time faces a much more complex dynamic.

#19 Soup and Sandwich

Mental part of the game needs work.

#20 Bourbonic

72-1 shot’s last-to-first surge, in a slow race, could be the sign of a colt getting good at the right time.

Good luck and enjoy Derby 147!