Last updated April 21st, 2021
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 U.S. Road to the Kentucky Derby leaderboard
- 2020-21 Europe Road to the Kentucky Derby leaderboard
- 2020-21 Japan Road to the Kentucky Derby leaderboard
- 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 Leaders
Check out the latest standings of contenders who are hopeful to start the 2021 Kentucky Derby. Positions based on points earned along the Road to the Kentucky Derby trail and non-restricted stakes earnings.
|Points||Horse||Non-Restricted Stakes Earnings||RTKD Races Won|
|140||Essential Quality||$2,210,000||Breeders' Futurity, Breeders' Cup Juvenile, Southwest Stakes, Blue Grass Stakes|
|110||Hot Rod Charlie||$962,000||Louisiana Derby|
|109||Super Stock||$709,000||Arkansas Derby|
|104||Like the King||$164,500||Jeff Ruby Steaks|
|102||Known Agenda||$461,100||Florida Derby|
|100||Rock Your World||$510,000||Santa Anita Derby|
|74||Medina Spirit||$290,000||Robert B. Lewis Stakes|
|70||Concert Tour||$820,000||Rebel Stakes|
|66||Midnight Bourbon||$430,000||Lecomte Stakes|
|52||Mandaloun||$270,000||Risen Star Stakes|
|50||Caddo River||$320,000||Smarty Jones Stakes|
|50||Helium||$255,492||Tampa Bay Derby|
|40||Soup and Sandwich||$161,000|
|34||Rombauer||$260,500||El Camino Real Derby|
|20||Get Her Number||$242,667||American Pharoah Stakes|
|20||King Fury||$207,595||Lexington Stakes|
|18||Keepmeinmind||$385,707||Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes|
2020-2021 European Road to the Kentucky Derby Point Leaders
Check out the latest standings of contenders from the Euro series who are hopeful to start the 2021 Kentucky Derby. Positions based on points earned along the European Road to the Kentucky Derby trail and non-restricted stakes earnings.
|Points||Horse||RTKD Races Won|
|30||Fundamental||Cardinal Conditions Stakes|
|20||Highland Avenue||Road to the Kentucky Derby Condition Stakes|
|20||My Generation||Patton Stakes|
|10||Sealiway||Qatar Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere|
|10||Mac Swiney||Vertem Futurity|
|10||New Mandate||Juddmonte Royal Lodge Stakes|
|10||High Definition||Juddmonte Beresford Stakes|
|4||Oo de Lally|
|2||Laws of Indices|
2020-2021 Japan Road to the Kentucky Derby Point Leaders
Check out the latest standings of contenders from the Japan series who are hopeful to start the 2021 Kentucky Derby. Positions based on points earned along the Japanese Road to the Kentucky Derby trail and non-restricted stakes earnings.
|Points||Horse||RTKD Races Won|
|40||God Selection||Fukuryu Stakes|
|30||La Perouse||Hyacinth Stakes|
|20||Alain Barows||Zen-Nippon Nisai Yushun|
|10||Lemon Pop Keeneland Sales Graduate||Cattleya Sho|
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.
The Kentucky Derby Hopeful 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 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.
When Bourbonic produced a rally from out of the clouds to upset Aqueduct’s Wood Memorial (G2) and qualify for the Kentucky Derby (G1), racing fans were shocked. The unheralded Calumet Farm homebred was the longest shot on the board at 72-1, and few expected him to steal the show.
Rock Your World
Turf or dirt, it doesn’t seem to matter to Rock Your World. The undefeated colt won his first two starts on grass before emerging as a Kentucky Derby (G1) contender with a resounding victory in the Santa Anita Derby (G1) on dirt. Rock Your World’s multi-surface versatility isn’t surprising when you analyze his pedigree.
It’s safe to say Known Agenda loves running long. The improving Todd Pletcher trainee will enter the Kentucky Derby (G1) with three victories at 1 1/8 miles, including a decisive score in the Florida Derby (G1). From a breeding perspective, there is no doubt where Known Agenda’s stamina comes from.
Like the King
At first glance, it might seem as though Like the King is cut out for success racing on dirt. He qualified for the Kentucky Derby (G1) with a victory in the Jeff Ruby Steaks (G3) over the synthetic Tapeta track at Turfway Park, but as a son of Belmont (G1) winner Palace Malice, out of a mare by Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile victor Corinthian, isn’t Like the King destined to thrive over the Churchill Downs main track?
“At first glance, it seems as though Rebel’s Romance should be a turf miler, not a dirt router. After all, he’s a son of Irish classic winner Dubawi, a three-time Grade 1 winner over distances ranging from seven furlongs to one mile. Rebel’s Romance has forged a different path, cementing his credentials as a Kentucky Derby (G1) contender with a blowout victory in the 1 3/16-mile UAE Derby (G2).”
Hot Rod Charlie
“Second in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1)… third in the Robert B. Lewis (G3)… and, finally, first in the Louisiana Derby (G2). Hot Rod Charlie has repeatedly held his own against tough competition on the Road to the Kentucky Derby, but will his strong form in the qualifiers translate to success on the first Saturday in May?”
“It appears Concert Tour is bound for a spring stop at Churchill Downs, where horsemen and handicappers alike will find out if he can produce a winning tune on the first Saturday in May. Concert Tour hasn’t missed a beat so far, joining the Road to the Kentucky Derby with a decisive victory in the $1 million Rebel Stakes (G2) at Oaklawn Park.”
“During his brief racing career, the Chiefswood Stables homebred Weyburn has shown unwavering determination. Never was this more apparent than in the Gotham Stakes (G3) on the Road to the Kentucky Derby, in which Weyburn dug deep down the stretch to prevail by a nose.”
“Dirt or synthetic, it doesn’t matter to the lightly raced Helium, who handles both surfaces just fine. A romping winner of the Display Stakes on Tapeta last fall, Helium joined the Road to the Kentucky Derby with a gutsy victory in the Tampa Bay Derby (G2) on dirt.”
Hush of a Storm
“We know Hush of a Storm handles Tapeta just fine—he’s excelled over the synthetic footing at Turfway Park, most notably rallying to victory in the John Battaglia Memorial on the Road to the Kentucky Derby. But can Hush of a Storm handle the transition to dirt for the Kentucky Derby (G1)? The answer is unclear.”
“Although La Perouse hails from Japan, you don’t have to dig deep to find U.S. Triple Crown stars in his pedigree. This bodes well for the exciting bay colt, who emerged as a major player on the Japan Road to the Kentucky Derby with a powerful late-running triumph in the Hyacinth S. at Tokyo Racecourse.”
“Dirt…turf…synthetic…Rombauer has run well across all three surfaces. On the road to the Kentucky Derby (G1), he’s displayed impressive versatility by winning the El Camino Real Derby over Tapeta and placing second in the American Pharoah (G1) on dirt. What is the secret to Rombauer’s multi-surface success? The answer is simple—it’s his pedigree.”
“Winning the Kentucky Derby (G1) requires a combination of speed and stamina; if you lack one or the other, you’re unlikely to reach the winner’s circle. Fortunately for the connections of Mandaloun, their talented colt appears to have inherited a perfect blend of both traits. The Juddmonte Farms homebred emerged as a major Road to the Kentucky Derby player with a victory in the 1 1/8-mile Risen Star (G2) at Fair Grounds.”
Candy Man ROcket
“What happens when you cross leading sire Candy Ride with a mare by Grade 1-winning sprinter Forestry? You wind up with Candy Man Rocket, who joined the Road to the Kentucky Derby with a determined pace-tracking victory in the Sam F. Davis S. (G3) at Tampa Bay Downs.”
“It’s easy to understand why Risk Taking has shown such a clear affinity for route racing. Winner of the 1 1/8-mile Withers S. (G3) on the Road to the Kentucky Derby, Risk Taking is bred from top to bottom to excel over classic distances. Risk Taking’s sire, Medaglia d’Oro, needs no introduction…”
“Medina Spirit might not be a blueblood, but he’s certainly bred to be an honest, durable, and long-winded racehorse. He’s already displayed these traits on the Road to the Kentucky Derby, announcing his arrival as a serious Kentucky Derby (G1) contender with a gritty front-running victory in the Robert B. Lewis (G3) at Santa Anita.”
“For all his success, Tapit has never sired a Kentucky Derby (G1) winner. He’s had plenty of opportunities, with 11 Derby starters through 2020, but none have visited the winner’s circle. This raises a tricky question—can Tapit’s son Greatest Honour go where no Tapit has gone before and add the Kentucky Derby to his resume?”
“We know Caddo River has an abundance of speed—he first emerged as a serious Kentucky Derby (G1) contender when posting a powerful gate-to-wire romp in the Smarty Jones Stakes at Oaklawn Park. But does Caddo River have the stamina to negotiate 1 1/4 miles on the first Saturday in May? That’s a tougher question.”
“As the only horse to win the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) twice, Tiznow was a pretty special racehorse. He was also a pretty special stallion, siring a bevy of Grade 1 winners prior to being pensioned from stud duty in 2020. About the only thing missing from Tiznow’s record is a Kentucky Derby (G1) winner, but perhaps Midnight Bourbon can remedy this situation.”
Life is Good
“Let the comparisons begin. Already there are striking similarities between Life Is Good and 2020 Kentucky Derby (G1) winner Authentic. Not only do they share the same trainer, Hall of Fame conditioner Bob Baffert, they’re both sons of Into Mischief and they both joined the Road to the Kentucky Derby with victories in the Sham (G3) at Santa Anita.”
“Fast forward 14 years, and Street Sense and Hard Spun have proven just as successful at stud, with both siring a bevy of Grade 1 winners. Now their bloodlines have combined to produce Capo Kane, a 2021 Kentucky Derby contender bred top and bottom to excel on the first Saturday in May.”
“Senor Buscador has talent—that much is obvious. The stretch-running colt joined the Road to the Kentucky Derby with a powerful romp in the Remington Springboard Mile S. at Remington Park, dominating his rivals by 5 3/4 lengths. But Senor Buscador also has an exciting pedigree geared toward success in the spring classics.”
“Spielberg has always been a highly regarded prospect. Conditioned by six-time Kentucky Derby-winning trainer Bob Baffert, the chestnut colt sold for a lofty $1 million as a yearling, a figure surely owed in part to the fact Spielberg is bred top and bottom to excel in the spring classics. Fortunately, Spielberg is living up to expectations.”
“It’s safe to say Lemon Pop is a Kentucky Derby (G1) contender whose roots span the globe. The talented chestnut races in Japan while carrying the silks of international powerhouse Godolphin, but from a pedigree perspective, he’s a Kentucky blueblood through and through. Lemon Pop is a son of Lemon Drop Kid, the champion older male of 2000 and a runner sufficiently long-winded to prevail in the 1999 Belmont Stakes.”
“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.”
“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 Points Leaders
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|