Kentucky Derby Picks and Predictions 2021

Updated: April 23, 2021

Monique Vág
Clock Icon Apr 23, 2021 – 7:01 PM ET

Horse racing betting prepares for its biggest weekend, the 147th running of the Kentucky Derby from Churchill Downs  — and with the race just a week away, it’s time to start making some picks and predictions. While it is a bit early to release the full betting card, there is still value to be had before the post position draw and a lot of that value comes from analyzing the prep races.

The Derby prep races are important, not only to earn those points necessary to qualify for the Kentucky Derby but also for the horses to mature and get racing experience under their belts. According to Churchill Downs records dating back to 1940, no Kentucky Derby winner has finished worse than fifth in his final prep start. Keep that in mind when searching for horses offering early value.

2021 Kentucky Derby Picks

Our horse racing analyst Monique Vág looks at the Kentucky Derby odds and gives her favorite picks and predictions.

Early value pick

Highly Motivated is the early lean for a Derby “value pick”. He’s raced really well since stretching out in distance and trying his luck routing. Showing some early speed in his most recent prep race adds to the appeal as he seems to possess versatility — something pivotal to Derby contenders loading the gate with 19 others as things do not always go as planned. He seems to be a horse on the improve, and in his most recent start he finished a very game second-best to Derby favorite Essential Quality, beaten only a neck. He should continue to improve with the added distance and if you search around, you can find this colt at double-digit odds!

Pick: Highly Motivated (+800 or higher)

Editor’s note: Check back after the post positions are announced on April 27, 2021, for more Kentucky Derby picks — including Monique’s trifecta pick!

Where can I bet on the Kentucky Derby?

Not every sportsbook allows you to wager on the Kentucky Derby. However, there are legal horse racing betting sites that allow you to place Derby bets.

Our guide explains where to bet and outlines the best Kentucky Derby betting sites available in your area.

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