Last updated December 10, 2020
2021 Kentucky Derby Contenders
As horses enter the Derby trail, they get one shot to run in the Kentucky Derby in their lifetime.
Discover how horses earn the chance to run in the Kentucky Derby with information below; Information such as contender lists, race entries and point accumulation.
- 2020-21 season top Kentucky Derby contenders
- Quick runner facts and answers
- Full explanation on how horses earn points
- 2021 Kentucky Derby contender pedigree profiles
- 2020 Kentucky Derby contenders
2020-2021 Kentucky Derby contender point earners list through December
Find the official list of the contenders who are hopeful to start the 2021 Kentucky Derby by points earned along the Road to the Kentucky Derby trail.
|30||Essential Quality||$1,280,000||Brad Cox|
|12||Jackie’s Warrior||$457,500||Steve Asmussen|
|10||Get Her Number||$186,000||Peter Miller|
|10||Sittin On Go||$139,800||Dale Romans|
|10||Brooklyn Strong||$82,500||Daniel Velasquez|
|8||Hot Rod Charlie||$340,000||Doug O’Neill|
|6||Midnight Bourbon||$68,000||Steve Asmussen|
|4||Reinvestment Risk||$120,000||Chad Brown|
|4||Super Stock||$59,000||Steve Asmussen|
|4||Ten for Ten||$50,000||Claude R. McGaughey III|
|4||Smiley Sobotka||$38,400||Dale Romans|
|2||Arabian Prince||$24,063||Dallas Stewart|
|2||Known Agenda||$18,000||Todd Pletcher|
|1||Pickin’ Time||$153,125||Kelly Breen|
|1||Therideofalifetime||$39,500||Ignacio Correas, IV|
|1||Civil War||$15,000||Tom Albertrani|
Quick Kentucky Derby Contender Answers
- Q: How many total horses can run in the Kentucky Derby?
- A: 20 horses can be placed inside the Churchill Downs starting gate, which means 20 horses can run in the Kentucky Derby. There are typically two Also Elligable ‘AE’ horses who can find a chance to compete, if one of the original 20 horses scratches and cannot run in the race.
- Q: How do horses get to run in the Kentucky Derby?
- A: 18 entries are initially reserved for the top Road to the Kentucky Derby prep race point earners. These prep races are per-determined and if a horse is tied in points, then a specific type of purse earnings are used to assist.
- A: 2 entries in the Kentucky Derby are ‘reserved’ for runners from the European Road to the Kentucky Derby and the Japan Road to the Kentucky Derby.
Discover the Kentucky Derby hopefuls point accumulation process
One of the fascinating things about the build-up to the Kentucky Derby is watching the development of young Thoroughbreds. Still babyish as two-year-olds, the Derby hopefuls begin to grow up as three-year-olds — a process often compared to junior high kids morphing into high school athletes.
Fans can track the horses’ progress during the “Road to the Kentucky Derby,” traditionally a series of 35 races that take place from the fall of their two-year-old campaign through the spring of their three-year-old year, culminating in the Kentucky Derby on the first Saturday in May. Horses earn their way into the Derby by scoring points in these 35 races (the full schedule, along with the sliding scale of points available for a top-four finish in each race, is available at kentuckyderby.com). 2020 did see the only change to this process, which resulted in the Kentucky Derby running in September and a few uniquely sanctioned Derby prep-races.
Just as major sports teams advance through playoffs, meeting stiffer competition as they get closer to the championship event, so do Derby aspirants aim to climb through each successive prep race. They might not have to win, but they do have to perform well enough — and stay healthy — to remain on the trail.
Because the competition gets tougher as the trail unfolds, the Derby points system awards the most points for the marquee preps in late March or April. The winners of the Florida Derby, Louisiana Derby, UAE Derby (in Dubai), Wood Memorial, Santa Anita Derby, Blue Grass Stakes, and Arkansas Derby each bank 100 points toward the Kentucky Derby, clinching a spot in the field.
So hop onto the Derby trail — you might find a hot prospect!
2021 Kentucky Derby contender pedigree profiles
Prevailing in the Run for the Roses requires a perfect blend of both stamina and speed, plus an early-maturing profile sufficient to deliver a winning effort on the first Saturday in May. Learn more about the pedigree profiles of the leading contenders for the 2021 Kentucky Derby below.
“Quality is essential for any horse hoping to win the Kentucky Derby (G1), and Essential Quality clearly has it in abundance. The Godolphin homebred joined the Road to the Kentucky Derby with rousing victories in the Breeders’ Futurity (G1) and Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) racing 1 1/16 miles at Keeneland, two impressive efforts that hint classic distances will be well within reach for the classy gray colt.”
“We know Jackie’s Warrior has plenty of speed—he displayed it quite clearly when posting a gate-to-wire victory in the one-mile Champagne (G1) at Belmont Park, prevailing by 5 1/2 lengths to join the Road to the Kentucky Derby is resounding fashion. But does Jackie’s Warrior have the stamina to be effective over classic distances? That’s the question handicappers must consider as Jackie’s Warrior marches toward the Kentucky Derby.”
“With his accomplished racing record and classics-oriented pedigree, Keepmeinmind is making sure horsemen and horseplayers alike keep him in mind as a contender for the 2021 Kentucky Derby. Keepmeinmind has already demonstrated a clear affinity for Churchill Downs, rallying to victory in the Kentucky Jockey Club (G2) racing 1 1/16 miles.”
“Although Brooklyn Strong is technically a New York-bred, the bay gelding boasts a thoroughly Kentuckian pedigree ideally suited to success over classic distances. Indeed, Brooklyn Strong joined the Road to the Kentucky Derby with a tenacious victory in the 1 1/8-mile Remsen (G2) at Aqueduct, demonstrating his talent over extended distances.”
Get Her Number
“Get Her Number doesn’t have the most commercially popular pedigree, which is surely one reason why the bay colt sold for just $45,000 as a 2-year-old in training. But once you reach the racetrack, the lines between blue-blooded and blue-collar racehorses begin to blur, as Get Her Number demonstrated when battling to victory in Santa Anita’s American Pharoah (G1) on the Road to the Kentucky Derby.”
Sittin On Go
“Just how much stamina is packed within the pedigree of Sittin On Go, who kicked off the 2020-21 Road to the Kentucky Derby with a powerful victory in the Iroquois (G3) at Churchill Downs? The short answer is “lots,” though Sittin On Go also has some speed breeding to balance the long-winded bloodlines coursing through his veins.”
2019-2020 Kentucky Derby contender point earners
Below are the top contenders from the 2019-2020 Road to the Kentucky Derby.
|372||Tiz the Law||$1,972,400||Barclay Tagg|
|150||Art Collector||$476,461||Thomas Drury, Jr.|
|140||Honor A. P.||$340,000||John Shirreffs|
|110||Ny Traffic||$472,820||Saffie Joseph, Jr.|
|90||King Guillermo||$317,050||Avila Carlos|
|83||Thousand Words||$297,000||Bob Baffert|
|80||Dr Post||$331,035||Todd Pletcher|
|60||Max Player||$337,500||Linda Rice|
|38||Major Fed||$179,100||Greg Foley|
|36||Storm the Court||$1,248,851||Peter Eurton|
|35||Attachment Rate||$93,675||Dale Romans|
|30||Sole Volante||$273,510||Patrick Biancone|
|25||Finnick the Fierce||$121,700||Rey Hernandez|
|20||Winning Impression||$54,822||Dallas Stewart|
|14||Necker Island||$74,808||Chris Hartman|