Ranking the major Kentucky Derby preps of 2021

Profile Picture: J. Keeler Johnson

April 28th, 2021

For this year’s Kentucky Derby (G1), a record eight top-tier prep races were contested, and each awarded 100 qualification points to the winner.

Of course, not all 100-point prep races are created equal. Some come up stronger than others and exert a greater influence on the “Run for the Roses.”

Let’s look back at final round of top-tier preps and rank their impact on the 2021 Kentucky Derby.

8. UAE Derby (G2)

Rebel’s Romance was an impressive 5 1/2-length winner over Panadol in the only 100-point prep race contested outside of the United States. But since Godolphin already has Kentucky Derby favorite Essential Quality in its stable, Rebel’s Romance is skipping the Derby to target the Belmont (G1).

Panadol also withdrew from Kentucky Derby consideration, which leaves the UAE Derby without a starter under the Twin Spires.

7. Arkansas Derby (G1)

Super Stock was an eye-catching winner of Oaklawn Park’s signature race, and he rallied smartly to score by 2 1/2 lengths.

But Arkansas Derby superfecta finishers Caddo River, Concert Tour, and Get Her Number have all defected from the Kentucky Derby, which leaves Super Stock as the only representative from the race.

Since the Arkansas Derby wasn’t the fastest race on paper, Super Stock is listed as a 30-1 longshot on the Kentucky Derby morning line.

6. Jeff Ruby Steaks (G3)

Late-charging winner Like the King will be joined by troubled runner-up Sainthood under the Twin Spires, which gives Turfway Park’s signature race a 1-2 Kentucky Derby punch in its first year as a 100-point qualifier.

But Like the King and Sainthood are both listed as 50-1 longshots on the morning line, and other prep races have produced a higher number of Derby starters.

5. Wood Memorial (G2)

The Wood Memorial proved productive from a numbers standpoint. Late-running 1-2 finishers Bourbonic and Dynamic One are entered to race at Churchill Downs, along with fifth-place finisher Brooklyn Strong.

But the Wood Memorial came back as a slow race on the Brisnet Speed rating scale, and the three Wood Memorial alumni are listed between 20-1 and 50-1 on the Derby morning line.

4. Florida Derby (G1)

Florida Derby 1-2 finishers Known Agenda and Soup and Sandwich have made the trip to Churchill Downs, but they’re surprisingly the only representatives from the most dominant Derby prep of the last 15 years, which produced three starters per year between 2015 and 2019.

Soup and Sandwich is a longshot at 30-1, perhaps in part because he is marooned in post 19, but Known Agenda is listed as the 6-1 third choice on the morning line.

3. Santa Anita Derby (G1)

Although the Santa Anita Derby has produced just two Kentucky Derby starters, runaway winner Rock Your World is the second betting choice at 5-1, while determined runner-up Medina Spirit is the co-sixth choice at 15-1.

Quality was high at the top in the Santa Anita Derby.

2. Louisiana Derby (G2)

Hot Rod Charlie, Midnight Bourbon, and O Besos were the first three horses across the finish line at Fair Grounds, and all three have been entered in the Kentucky Derby. That means the Louisiana Derby is the only 100-point prep race to send all of its trifecta finishers to Churchill Downs. But they’re not the only representatives from the Louisiana Derby. Distant sixth-place finisher Mandaloun is also in the entries.

All four horses are listed between 8-1 and 20-1 on the morning line, so it’s safe to say the Louisiana Derby has enjoyed a higher-than-normal impact on the Kentucky Derby.

1. Blue Grass (G2)

The most influential 100-point Derby prep was the Blue Grass.

Tenacious winner Essential Quality is the 2-1 favorite under the Twin Spires, while game runner-up Highly Motivated is the 10-1 fifth choice.

They’ll be joined in the Kentucky Derby starting gate by fourth-place runner Hidden Stash (50-1) and fifth-place horse Keepmeinmind (50-1), which ties the Blue Grass with the Louisiana Derby as the prep race that produced the most Derby starters.