Kentucky Derby odds, expert picks 2021: Essential Quality, Rock Your World, Highly Motivated predictions

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The 2021 Kentucky Derby post positions are set, and Essential Quality is the morning line favorite in the latest 2021 Kentucky Derby odds after drawing the No. 14 spot. Trained by Brad Cox, the son of legendary sire Tapit by Delightful Quality already has four graded stakes wins to his name and topped the Road to the Kentucky Derby standings on his way to having his Kentucky Derby odds 2021 set at 2-1. The three-year-old was taken to the limit by Highly Motivated (10-1) in his last start at the Blue Grass Stakes and Highly Motivated will be to his outside on Saturday, May 1 at Churchill Downs.

Highly Motivated drew the No. 17 post, while California speedster Rock Your World (5-1) will also be to Essential Quality’s outside in the No. 15 post. With other 2021 Kentucky Derby contenders like Medina Spirit (15-1), Hot Rod Charlie (8-1) and O Besos all drawing favorable positions in the middle of the revamped Churchill Downs starting gate, there are plenty of options as you place your 2021 Kentucky Derby bets. With so much to consider, you’ll want to see what SportsLine’s Jody Demling has to say before entering any 2021 Kentucky Derby picks and predictions of your own.

A fixture in the horse racing world who has been writing about, talking about and betting on races for years, Demling enters the 2021 Kentucky Derby after a major heater in 2020: At one point last year, he picked the winners of six straight races: the Saudi Cup, Gotham Stakes, Rebel Stakes, Louisiana Derby, Florida Derby and Belmont Stakes.

This is the same handicapper who hit the Derby-Oaks double at Churchill Downs nine times in the last 12 years. That means he held a ticket with the winners of both the Kentucky Oaks and Kentucky Derby all but three times in his last 12 tries.

He opened last season’s Triple Crown schedule on a heater too. At last year’s Belmont, Demling said Tiz the Law was clearly the class of the field, and Barclay Tagg’s horse pulled away for a convincing 3 3/4-length victory. Anyone who has followed him is up huge.

Now, with the 2021 Kentucky Derby lineup set, Demling is sharing his picks and predictions at SportsLine. Go here to see them.

Top 2021 Kentucky Derby predictions

One shocker: Demling is fading Highly Motivated, even though he is one of the favorites at 10-1. In fact, Demling says that despite being one of the trendiest horses in the 2021 Kentucky Derby lineup, Highly Motivated doesn’t even hit the board. After breaking his maiden last September at Belmont and winning the Nyquist Stakes later in his two-year-old season, Highly Motivated disappointed with the third-place run at the Gotham Stakes.

He followed that up with a runner-up finish to Essential Quality at the Blue Grass Stakes, where the 2021 Kentucky Derby favorite had to storm back to win by a neck. However, that race was only 1 1/8 miles, and with the Kentucky Derby running at 1 1/4 miles, the length might not work in his favor. To make matter worse, Highly Motivated draws the dreaded No. 17 post, which has never produced a Kentucky Derby winner.

Demling has locked in his 2021 Kentucky Derby picks for Rock Your World, who is among the favorites at 5-1. The son of Candy Ride by Charm the Maker ran on turf his first two starts at Santa Anita, breaking his maiden on New Year’s Day in a six-furlong run and then winning the Pasadena Stakes on grass.

He made the transition to dirt for the 2021 Santa Anita Derby and stunned with a convincing win over Bob Baffert’s Medina Spirit (15-1). However, he’s never run outside of California and will have speed to his outside with Florida Derby runner-up Soup and Sandwich (30-1), Arkansas Derby winner Super Stock (30-1) and Highly Motivated (10-1).

Essential Quality (2-1) enters Saturday as the favorite after winning his first five starts. He broke his maiden at Churchill Downs last September before winning the Breeders’ Futurity and then the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile as a two-year-old. Then as a three-year-old, he won the Southwest Stakes at Oaklawn Park and the Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland.

Highly Motivated gave him a serious run for his money in that final run at Keeneland and the pace of that race didn’t seem to work in his favor. Could Essential Quality move too far forward coming from the No. 14 post, which has only produced two Derby winners? It’s a valid concern given that he’s the only horse with odds of better than 5-1.

How to make 2021 Kentucky Derby picks, bets

Demling has projected exactly where Essential Quality and Rock Your World will finish in his 2021 Kentucky Derby leaderboard. He is also high on an underdog who “seems to get better each time he steps on the track!. Before you make any Kentucky Derby 2021 picks, be sure to see who it is exclusively over at SportsLine.

Which horse wins the Kentucky Derby 2021? And where do Essential Quality and Rock Your World finish in the 147th Run for the Roses? Check out the latest 2021 Kentucky Derby odds below, then visit SportsLine to see Demling’s picks for the Kentucky Derby.

2021 Kentucky Derby odds, post positions

Program # Horse Odds
1 Known Agenda 6-1
2 Like the King 50-1
3 Brooklyn Strong 50-1
4 Keepmeinmind 50-1
5 Sainthood 50-1
6 O Besos 20-1
7 Mandaloun 15-1
8 Medina Spirit 15-1
9 Hot Rod Charlie 8-1
10 Midnight Bourbon 20-1
11 Dynamic One 20-1
12 Helium 50-1
13 Hidden Stash 50-1
14 Essential Quality 2-1
15 Rock Your World 5-1
16 King Fury 20-1
17 Highly Motivated 10-1
18 Super Stock 30-1
19 Soup and Sandwich 30-1
20 Bourbonic 30-1