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2021 Kentucky Derby Tips - Two horses to back at Churchill Downs

Last updated: 30 Apr 2021
Jon Vine 30 Apr 2021
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  • We've published our tips for the 2021 Kentucky Derby
  • This famous race takes place at Churchill Downs on Saturday 1st May
  • Essential Quality is the 5/2 favourite
  • Rock Your World is our best bet, with King Fury our best value bet
kentucky derby 2020
A view of the runners in the 2020 Kentucky Derby. (Getty)

One of the world's most famous horse races takes place at Churchill Downs on Saturday, as a classy field of colts enters the stalls ahead of the 2021 Kentucky Derby. A capacity field of 20 runners was confirmed ahead of Saturday's renewal, and the favourite is Brad Cox's runner, Essential Quality.

2021 Kentucky Derby Odds

Essential Quality5/2
Rock Your World11/2
Hot Rod Charlie9/1
Known Agenda9/1
Highly Motivated11/1
Medina Spirit11/1

*Odds taken from Ladbrokes on 30/4/21*

2021 Kentucky Derby Runners

Essential Quality rounded off his juvenile campaign with a win over Hot Rod Charlie at the Breeders' Cup. Brad Cox's star remains unbeaten, having won the Southwest Stakes and the Blue Grass on his way to the Kentucky Derby.

Rock Your World has won all three of his starts this year, and enters the Derby on the back of a superb four-length triumph in the Santa Anita Derby. Hot Rod Charlie won the Louisiana Derby in March, and he too feature prominently in the betting.

Highly Motivated proved he was more than a sprinter when pushing Essential Quality all the way to the line in the Blue Grass. Known Agenda entered on the back of that Florida Derby success, with Super Stock taking the spoils in the recent Arkansas Derby.

Medina Spirit, Dynamic One and Mandaloun have all taken up their Kentucky Derby entries. Other names of note include Bourbonic, Helium, King Fury and Midnight Bourbon.

2021 Kentucky Derby Best Bet - ROCK YOUR WORLD

Seven of the last ten renewals of the Kentucky Derby have been won by horses priced 8/1 or lower, and in 2019, favourite Maximum Security crossed the line first before being disqualified. Seven of the last eight winners had also won one of the recognised trials for the Derby - another trend that helps us draw closer to finding the most likely winner. 

Known Agenda ran out a comfortable winner of the Florida Derby. However, he drew the shortest straw in the draw, and will come out of the "coffin stall", gate one. On that basis alone, he has a very tough task ahead of him.

Essential Quality is clearly the one they all have to beat. Yet, I was much more taken with ROCK YOUR WORLD'S trial performance, and I'm going to place my faith in John Sadler's budding star.

Unraced at two, Rock Your World powered to victory over six furlongs on his racecourse debut, before comfortably winning the Pasadena Stakes on his first start over a mile. Medina Spirit was then backed into odds-on favouritism for the Santa Anita Derby, but he had no answer to Rock Your World, who broke well, travelled comfortably and strode clear late on to win by four lengths.

In 2018, Justify became the first horse in over 130 years to win the Kentucky Derby without running as a juvenile. Like Rock Your World, Justify won three times as Santa Anita, before romping to victory at Churchill Downs. 

rock your world
Rock Your World runs on the track during training for the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs. (Getty)

2021 Kentucky Derby Value Bet - KING FURY

One who I think has been overlooked in the betting is Kenneth McPeek's contender, KING FURY

King Fury twice finished behind Essential Quality as a juvenile, but did manage to pick up a couple of wins here at Churchill Downs. The best of those performances came in the Listed Overnight Stakes, where Brian Hernandez Jnr produced his mount perfectly in the final furlong to beat Super Stock - who'll run here on Saturday after scoring in the Arkansas Derby.

On his reappearance, King Fury looked a class above his rivals in the Lexington Stakes, moving smoothly into contention rounding the bend before powering home under hands-and-heels. 

By the great Curling, King Fury is the first foal out of Taris, who won a Grade Two at three and went on to win the Grade One Humana Distaff around this track in 2016. It's clear McPeek's charge has improved for another winter on his back, and King Fury offers plenty of value at 33/1.


Rock Your World could follow in the footsteps of Justify, and win the Kentucky Derby after only making his debut that same year.

King Fury looks to have improved from two to three, and looks a solid value bet at 33/1.

2021 Kentucky Derby Tip 1: Rock Your World Straight Win @6/1 at bet365 - 15 Units
2021 Kentucky Derby Tip 2: King Fury Each-Way @33/1 at Ladbrokes - 5 Units
Rock Your World
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@6/1 - 15 Units
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King Fury
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