The best longshot to bet in the 2021 Kentucky Derby

Profile Picture: John Mucciolo

April 29th, 2021

The search for value in the 147th running of the Kentucky Derby (G1) can be a tricky proposal for those in the camp of #14 Essential Quality (2-1). Unbeaten from five lifetime performances, the Brad Cox trainee checks all the boxes and will be a formidable foe on Saturday under Luis Saez. But for those thinking outside the box, I feel that there are numerous directions where you can go to find a contender at a price.

I will be backing Florida Derby (G1) runner-up #19 Soup and Sandwich (30-1). Trained by Mark Casse, the flashy gray colt has run well in each of his trio of assignments, and he might have the highest ceiling of any horse in the field, as well. The Live Oak Stud homebred split a pair of fine runners at Gulfstream Park most recently and has trained well in preparation for his biggest and most difficult test to date.

Soup and Sandwich has good speed from the gate, but it’s his late energy that has impressed me even more. The son of Into Mischief has earned Brisnet Late Pace figures of 106 and 101 from his two route races, and I have a level of confidence that he will enjoy running 10 furlongs at Churchill Downs beneath Tyler Gaffalione.

There are concerns with the sophomore, obviously, including his lack of experience and his inability to switch leads readily at this stage of his development. And his post could be a problem unless he breaks well at the start and secures a nice early position. But I am willing to overlook the negatives and focus on the positives.

Soup and Sandwich is a good horse to have in all rungs of the vertical exotics (exacta, trifecta, superfecta) at a big number. And the long-striding three-year-old will not be hard to find in the huge field, either, with his striking gray coat making him a visual standout. I envision Gaffalione having him forwardly placed early while in the clear, and for the longshot to make his presence felt at the top of the stretch. He will give classy horseman Mark Casse his much deserved initial Kentucky Derby victory.