Essential Quality the Early Favorite

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Updated: February 28, 2021

With two months to go until the 2021 Kentucky Derby, Essential Quality is a +800 betting favorite. Essential Quality is undefeated in four career races.

Photo By – USA TODAY Sports

The Kentucky Derby odds board is taking shape, with the Run for the Roses once again set to take place on the first Saturday of May after last year’s race was postponed to September. 

The Kentucky Derby 2021 odds will likely change quite a bit leading up to May 1, but right now a number of thoroughbreds are bunched up close together at the top. 

Let’s take a look at the Kentucky Derby betting odds and see who the Kentucky Derby favorite is for the prestigious horse race that kicks off the first leg of this year’s Triple Crown schedule.

Who is the favorite to win the 2021 Kentucky Derby? 

Essential Quality is a +800 betting favorite to win the 2021 Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs. After winning his first three career races in 2020, Essential Quality won the Southwest Stakes at the end of February to capture his first win of 2021 and remain undefeated. 

Life Is Good and Greatest Honour slot in right behind Essential Quality at +1,000 odds, while Caddo River and Concert Tour are tied at +1,600 and round out the Top 5.

Kentucky Derby odds

Horse Odds to win 147th Kentucky Derby (as of February 28)
Essential Quality +800
Life Is Good +1,000
Greatest Honour +1,000
Caddo River +1,200
Concert Tour +1,200
Keepmeinmind +1,600
Medina Spirit +1,600
Prevalence +1,600
Risk Taking +1,600
Mandaloun +2,000
Hot Rod Charlie +2,000
Nicky The Vest +2,000
Jackie’s Warrior +2,500
Highly Motivated +2,500
Reinvestment Risk +2,500
Spielberg +2,500
Proxy +2,500
Freedom Fighter +2,500
Candy Man Rocket +2,500
Known Agenda +2,500
Collaborate +2,500
Classier +3,300
Team Merchants +3,300
Prate +3,300
Van Gogh +3,300
Hozier +3,300
Midnight Bourbon +3,300
Roman Centurian +3,300
The Great One +3,300

Odds courtesy of bet365.

Odds of past Kentucky Derby winners

Although the Kentucky Derby favorite dominated at Churchill Downs from 2013 to 2018, Country House won the Run for the Roses in 2019 as the second-biggest underdog in Derby history at 65/1, and Authentic pulled off his own upset last year by edging out heavy favorite Tiz the Law. Here are the winners of the Kentucky Derby since 2000, their post positions, and their final odds.   

Year Kentucky Derby Winner Post Position Final Odds
2020 Authentic 18 8/1
2019 Country House 20 65/1
2018 Justify 7 5/2
2017 Always Dreaming 5 9/2
2016 Nyquist 13 2/1
2015 American Pharoah 18 5/2
2014 California Chrome 5 5/2
2013 Orb 16 5/1
2012 I’ll Have Another 19 15/1
2011 Animal Kingdom 16 20/1
2010 Super Saver 4 8/1
2009 Mine That Bird 8 50/1
2008 Big Brown 20 7/2
2007 Street Sense 7 9/2
2006 Barbaro 3 6/1
2005 Giacomo 10 50/1
2004 Smarty Jones 13 4/1
2003 Funny Cide 5 13/1
2002 War Emblem 5 41/2
2001 Monarchos 16 21/2
2000 Fusaichi Pegasus 15 9/5

Kentucky Derby expert picks

Interested in expert picks for the Kentucky Derby? Look no further than Covers Experts’ resident horse racing handicapper, Jockey Club. Operated by two passionate horse racing bettors, Jockey Club is always looking for an edge when playing the races by combining traditional speed and class handicapping along with form cycle analysis.

Where can I bet on the Kentucky Derby?

This all depends on where you live. If you’re in the USA, betting on the Kentucky Derby online isn’t as simple as simply launching your favorite sportsbook app. Instead, you’ll have to use a specialist-pooled horse racing betting site such as BetAmerica.

Those in Canada or the UK have it much easier as most betting sites offer horse racing markets. Canadians should check out our best sportsbooks and those in the UK should browse our top bookmakers.


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