Top 10 Kentucky Derby racing trends

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May 1st, 2021

The amount of history packed into the 146-year-old tradition of the Kentucky Derby (G1) is far too immense to recall in one sitting.

To prepare for this year's running of the most exciting two minutes in sports, let's narrow down the focus to the last decade of races, as we examine the top 10 Kentucky Derby racing trends, before you place your bets.

1. Trainer

Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert has enjoyed tremendous success in recent Kentucky Derby history. The six-time winner guided three different Thoroughbreds to victories in the last six races, and two (American Pharoah in 2015 and Justify in 2018) claimed the Triple Crown. 

In last year's September running of the Kentucky Derby, Baffert's colt, Authentic, upset favorite Tiz the Law to collect the Garland of Roses.

In 2020, Baffert will field just one entry, 15-1 contender Medina Spirit.  

Two-time Derby-winning trainer Todd Pletcher (who won with Super Saver in 2010 and Always Dreaming in 2017) has four horses entered in the 2021 field. They include Known Agenda (6-1), Sainthood (50-1), Dynamic One (20-1), and Bourbonic (30-1).

2. Jockey

Medina Spirit's jockey, John Velazquez, has ridden a horse to victory in three of the last 10 editions of the Derby. Since 2010, Velazquez has won aboard longshot Animal Kingdom (2011), Always Dreaming (2017), and last year's victor, Authentic. 

The only other Derby-winning jockeys in this year's field are two-time winner Mike Smith (Giacomo in 2005 and Justify in 2018), Joel Rosario (Orb in 2013), and Flavien Prat (Country House in 2019).

3. Owner

Part owner of Sainthood, WinStar Farm, has won two of the last 11 Derby races, with Justify and Super Saver.

Calumet Farm has earned a record eight Kentucky Derby trophies and will look to add to that total with Bourbonic in 2021.

4. Morning-line odds

Since 2010, two horses with 30-1 morning line odds have triumphed in the Kentucky Derby — Country House in 2019 and Animal Kingdom in 2011.

Soup and Sandwich, Super Stock, and Bourbonic drew 30-1 morning-line odds in this year's competition.

5. Post-time favorites

From 2013 to 2018, the post-time favorite won six straight Derby races. In 2013, the Road to the Kentucky Derby system was introduced and has since determined which horses qualify for the Derby based on points earned in select prep races.

In 2019, Country House snapped the streak for post-time favorites. In 2020, Authentic boasted the third-lowest odds at race time.

6. Track condition

This year's Kentucky Derby should run on a fast (or dry) track, which has happened in six of the last 11 races.

Last year, Authentic clocked the seventh-fastest Derby-winning time in history (2:00.61) on a fast track, the optimal condition for racing.

In 2010, Super Saver finished first in 2:04.45 — the slowest winning time in the past decade — on a sloppy track.

7. Winning finish time

Since the 1973 Kentucky Derby, no horse has been able to beat Secretariat's first-place finish time of 1:59.4.

The average winning time in the last 11 races is 2:02.86.

The slowest winning time for a Kentucky Derby run at 1 1/4 miles is 2:15.2 by longshot Stone Street, who upset the field on a muddy Saturday in 1908.

8. Payout

The largest payout on a $2 win bet in last 10 years was $132.40 on Country House in 2019, followed by $43.80 on Animal Kingdom.

The smallest payout on a $2 Win bet in the past decade was $6.60 on Nyquist in 2016.

9. Weather

Tossing out 2020, since it was held in September, the average high temperature at the Derby, between 2010 and 2019, is 73.4 degrees Fahrenheit.

This year, the forecast for race time Saturday, May 1, is 75 degrees with a 0% chance of rain. 

Since 2010, only the 2014 and 2015 Derby races had zero 24-hour precipitation. The wettest Derby on record occurred in 2018, with 3.15-inches of precipitation.

10. Coat color

If morning-line favorite Essential Quality (2-1) finishes first Saturday, he will become the ninth gray horse to celebrate in the winner's circle.

Since 2010, five bay horses, five chestnut horses, and one dark bay have won the race.

The Jockey Club recognizes seven Thoroughbred colors — black, dark bay/brown, bay, chestnut, gray/roan, palomino, and white.