Kentucky Derby Action Report: Big Bets Keep Essential Quality the Favorite

With parimutuel betting well underway for today's 2021 Kentucky Derby, Essential Quality is again the favorite, with odds of 5/2 to win the first leg of the Triple Crown.

Patrick Everson
Posted: May 1, 2021 6:30 PM ET Updated: May 1, 2021 6:30 PM ET

It's race day and the Kentucky Derby odds board is seeing some changes, with the Run for the Roses at Churchill Downs just hours away.  

As post time approaches, bettors can get a little better focus on Kentucky Derby 2021 odds, though as wagering Friday and early Saturday showed, those odds are very much in flux. In fact, the favorite flipped and flipped back, which makes even more interesting the high-dollar bets already made by Jim "Mattress Mack" McIngvale..

Let's take a look at the betting odds and see who the Kentucky Derby favorite is for the prestigious race that kicks off the first leg of this year's Triple Crown schedule.

Kentucky Derby odds

Horse Odds to win  Post Position
Essential Quality 5/2 14
Rock Your World 5/1 15
Hot Rod Charlie 6/1 9
Known Agenda 11/1 1
Highly Motivated 11/1 17
Medina Spirit 12/1 8
Midnight Bourbon 13/1 10
Soup and Sandwich 25/1 19
Bourbonic 28/1 20
Mandaloun 28/1 7
Super Stock 30/1 18
Hidden Stash 35/1 13
Sainthood 37/1 5
O Besos 39/1 6
Dynamic One 39/1 11
Helium 39/1 12
Brooklyn Strong 40/1 3
Keepmeinmind 46/1 4
Like the King 51/1 2
King Fury SCRATCH 16

Odds courtesy of TwinSpires on May 1, 2021.

Kentucky Derby sharp money and line movement report
By Patrick Everson

Latest Kentucky Derby betting action

UPDATE 6:30 P.M. ET SATURDAY: Shortly before post time, Essential Quality is the 2/1 favorite at TwinSpires and has taken even more money from Jim "Mattress Mack" McIngvale. The Houston furniture store owner has at least $1.7 million across at least three wagers in the to-win pool, rooting for the favorite to win not only for him, but for a bedding promotion for customers at his furniture store.

Despite Essential Quality getting more than 25 percent of the parimutuel pool, his odds haven't shortened much at all.

"He's still at 2/1, so money is going elsewhere," TwinSpires director of marketing Ed DeRosa said. "Rock Your World is the 5/1 second choice and Hot Rod Charlie the 6/1 third choice. They're very close in money. Rock Your World has a little more money in the to-win pool."

DeRosa said Midnight Bourbon, who is 13/1, is taking the most money among those in the next tier of horses. He also said he's surprised that more money hasn't shown up on Mandaloun, who is 30/1.

Kentucky Derby odds over time

Medina Spirit was as high as +2,500 (3.8 percent implied probability to win) back in March but had climbed to +1,000 (9.1 percent) before the race. Have a look at how the Kentucky Derby odds shifted over time at bet365. 

Favorites to win 2021 Kentucky Derby

Late Friday, Essential Quality moved to a solid 3/5 favorite, with Rock Your World the 7/1 second choice, followed by Hot Rod Charlie at 9/1. Essential Quality had moved out of the favorite postition earlier in the day at TwinSpires, however a massive $500,000 wager on the former favorite brought him back to the top of the odds board.

After the top three, the Kentucky Derby odds drop off to a quartet of horses: Highly Motivated (19/1), Medina Spirit (19/1), Known Agenda (20/1), and Midnight Bourbon (20/1).

Odds of past Kentucky Derby winners

Although the Kentucky Derby favorite dominated at Churchill Downs from 2013 to 2018, Country House won the Run for the Roses in 2019 as the second-biggest underdog in Derby history at 65/1, and Authentic pulled off his own upset last year by edging out heavy favorite Tiz the Law. Here are the winners of the Kentucky Derby since 2000, their post positions, and their final odds.   

Year Kentucky Derby Winner Post Position Final Odds
2020 Authentic 18 8/1
2019 Country House 20 65/1
2018 Justify 7 5/2
2017 Always Dreaming 5 9/2
2016 Nyquist 13 2/1
2015 American Pharoah 18 5/2
2014 California Chrome 5 5/2
2013 Orb 16 5/1
2012 I'll Have Another 19 15/1
2011 Animal Kingdom 16 20/1
2010 Super Saver 4 8/1
2009 Mine That Bird 8 50/1
2008 Big Brown 20 7/2
2007 Street Sense 7 9/2
2006 Barbaro 3 6/1
2005 Giacomo 10 50/1
2004 Smarty Jones 13 4/1
2003 Funny Cide 5 13/1
2002 War Emblem 5 41/2
2001 Monarchos 16 21/2
2000 Fusaichi Pegasus 15 9/5

Where can I bet on the Kentucky Derby?

This all depends on where you live. If you’re in the USA, betting on the Kentucky Derby online isn’t as simple as simply launching your favorite sportsbook app. Instead, you’ll have to use a specialist-pooled horse racing betting site such as TwinSpires.

Those in Canada or the UK have it much easier as most sports betting sites offer horse racing markets. Check out our complete Where to Bet on the Kentucky Derby page for complete details.

Kentucky Derby odds FAQs

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