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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.

2020-2021 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.

30Essential Quality$1,280,000Brad Cox
18Keepmeinmind$379,040Robertino Diodoro
12Jackie’s Warrior$457,500Steve Asmussen
10Get Her Number$186,000Peter Miller
10Sittin On Go$139,800Dale Romans
10Brooklyn Strong$82,500Daniel Velasquez
8Hot Rod Charlie$340,000Doug O’Neill
6Midnight Bourbon$68,000Steve Asmussen
4Rombauer$120,500Mike McCarthy
4Reinvestment Risk$120,000Chad Brown
4Super Stock$59,000Steve Asmussen
4Ten for Ten$50,000Claude R. McGaughey III
4Smiley Sobotka$38,400Dale Romans
2Spielberg$86,000Bob Baffert
2Arabian Prince$24,063Dallas Stewart
2Known Agenda$18,000Todd Pletcher
1Pickin’ Time$153,125Kelly Breen
1Therideofalifetime$39,500Ignacio Correas, IV
1Upstriker$20,000Ron Moquett
1Waspirant$18,000John Shirreffs
1Civil War$15,000Tom Albertrani
1Swill$9,600Brad Cox

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 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.

Essential Quality

“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.”

Click here to read the full pedigree profile

Jackie’s Warrior

“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.”

Click here to read the full pedigree profile


“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.”

Click here to read the full pedigree profile

Brookyln Strong - 2021 Kentucky Derby Contender

Brooklyn Strong

“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.”

Click here to read the full pedigree profile

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.”

Click here to read the full pedigree profile

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.”

Click here to read the full pedigree profile

2019-2020 Kentucky Derby contender point earners

Below are the top contenders from the 2019-2020 Road to the Kentucky Derby.

372Tiz the Law $1,972,400Barclay Tagg
200Authentic$980,000Bob Baffert
150 Art Collector $476,461 Thomas Drury, Jr.
140Honor A. P.$340,000John Shirreffs
110Ny Traffic$472,820Saffie Joseph, Jr.
90King Guillermo$317,050Avila Carlos
83Thousand Words$297,000Bob Baffert
80Dr Post $331,035Todd Pletcher
60 Max Player $337,500 Linda Rice
60 Caracaro $205,000 Gustavo Delgado
43Enforceable$314,550Mark Casse
40 Rushie $108,000 Mike McCarthy
38Major Fed$179,100Greg Foley
36 Storm the Court $1,248,851 Peter Eurton
35 Attachment Rate $93,675 Dale Romans
30Sole Volante$273,510Patrick Biancone
25Finnick the Fierce$121,700Rey Hernandez
20Winning Impression $54,822Dallas Stewart
14Necker Island $74,808Chris Hartman