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|
|Rock Your World||5/1||15|
|Hot Rod Charlie||6/1||9|
|Soup and Sandwich||25/1||19|
|Like the King||51/1||2|
Odds courtesy of TwinSpires on May 1, 2021.
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.
Previous 2021 Kentucky Derby action
UPDATE 2 P.M. ET SATURDAY: Essential Quality remains the Kentucky Derby favorite, now sitting 2/1 in parimutuel betting at TwinSpires. Rock Your World is the 5/1 second choice, followed by Hot Rod Charlie at 6/1, with no other horse in single-digit odds to win the Kentucky Derby. Jim "Mattress Mack" McIngvale accounts for $900,000 of money bet on the favorite, spread across wagers of $500,000 Friday and $400,000 today. "I'm not sure if Mattress Mack is done yet," TwinSpires director of marketing Ed DeRosa said, noting that McIngvale is prepared to bet from $2 million to $4 million total. "Essential Quality has 21 percent of the win pool, but just 10 percent of the place and show pools. Mattress Mack's bets are almost 10 percent of the win pool." That's creating a fascinating situation in which bettors might instead take the favorite in the place or show pools. In the place pool, Essential Quality would have to finish first or second to pay out, and in the show pool, he'd need a top-three finish. DeRosa said Essential Quality is the third choice in both those markets. "There's a chance someone would win more betting Essential Quality to place than to win, even if Essential Quality wins," DeRosa said, noting the favorite could pay out in the 7/1 range if he wins and a longer shot takes second. Compared to Essential Quality's current 2/1 odds, that's a pretty good deal. DeRosa said 14 percent of win-pool money is on Rock Your World and 12 percent on Hot Rod Charlie.
UPDATE NOON ET SATURDAY: By this morning, Essential Quality had come back to the field a fair amount. On Friday afternoon, Essential Quality stretched to the 3/5 favorite following Jim "Mattress Mack" McIngvale's $500,000 bet on the horse. This morning, with other horses drawing cash and a lot more money in the parimutuel pot, Essential Quality was at 3/1. (+250). But around 11:30 a.m. ET, McIngvale put another $400,000 on Essential Quality, and his odds shortened to 2/1. Not too long afterward, Essential Quality slipped a notch to 5/2. But other horses are certainly getting notice. TwinSpires director of marketing Ed DeRosa noted that, as of noon ET, there's $7.2 million in the parimutuel pool, and that will grow far higher throughout the day, with a post time of 6:57 p.m. ET. Rock Your World is now the 5/1 second choice, followed by Hot Rod Charlie at 6/1. Then the odds jump to 11/1 for Known Agenda and Highly Motivated, rounding out the top five in the 19-horse field.
UPDATE 9 P.M. ET FRIDAY: Parimutuel betting on Kentucky Derby odds opened Friday morning, and after just a few hours, TwinSpires had a new favorite in the field: Hot Rod Charlie. Originally the 8/1 fourth choice after Tuesday's post-position draw, Hot Rod Charlie moved to the 9/2 top choice. Essential Quality, installed as the 2/1 favorite after the draw, became the 5/1 co-second choice with Rock Your World. However, later Friday afternoon, a $500,000 bet landed on Essential Quality, which Horse Racing Nation's Ron Flatter and Mark Midland reported was the first of what could be a few major wagers from Jim "Mattress Mack" McIngvale. The wager moved Essential Quality to a solid 3/5 favorite, with Rock Your World the 7/1 second choice, followed by Hot Rod Charlie at 9/1. Every other horse lengthened to 19/1 or more. By Friday night, though, Essential Quality had come back to the field a bit as the 6/5 favorite, with Rock Your World 9/2 and Hot Rod Charlie 8/1. "So there's some pretty competitive wagering, much more so than I expected," TwinSpires director of marketing Ed DeRosa told Covers.
UPDATE 8:30 P.M. ET WEDNESDAY: Circa Sports is among several sportsbooks offering fixed-odds futures betting on the Kentucky Derby, in lieu of parimutuel wagering. The Derby futures book opened late last year, and Circa sportsbook operations manager Jeffrey Benson said favorites drew most of the early action. That would incl/ude first choice Essential Quality, who is +295 at Circa Sports and will break from the 14th post Saturday. Rock Your World is the +510 second choice, followed by Known Agenda at +580, Hot Rod Charlie at +835 and Highly Motivated at +985. But the bulk of the tickets and cash are coming on other horses. "Most of the action has been on the longer shots so far," Benson said, specifically noting Hidden Stash at a lengthy +8,000 (80/1) and O Besos at +3,100 (31/1). "We also have some pending parlays, mostly involving favorites that are tied to other futures markets. It's too early to tell who we will be cheering for come Saturday, but the overall action has been good."
UPDATE 1:30 P.M. ET TUESDAY: Although the post-position draw was held this morning, parimutuel betting on Kentucky Derby odds doesn't begin until later in the week. But many books have futures odds posted, including The SuperBook, where Essential Quality is the +250 favorite for Saturday's big race. "We've got some horses getting attention. Essential Quality is seeing mild support, not overwhelming," said Jay Kornegay, who oversees The SuperBook as vice president of race and sports for Westgate. Rock Your World is the +500 second choice, followed by Known Agenda at +700, Hot Rod Charlie at +800 and Highly Motivated at +1,000. "We don't have any real liability to the futures yet. There's some liability to Mandaloun," Kornegay said of the +1,600 co-sixth choice in the Run for the Roses.
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|
|2012||I'll Have Another||19||15/1|
|2009||Mine That Bird||8||50/1|
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
What were the odds for the Kentucky Derby?
Authentic closed at odds of 8/1 before winning the 2020 Kentucky Derby.
How do odds work in the Kentucky Derby?
Most odds you will see for the Kentucky Derby are the odds to win the race. The odds above are listed in American format.
Who has the best odds to win the Kentucky Derby?
Essential Quality and Concert Tour are co-favorites to win the 2021 Kentucky Derby with odds of +350, as of mid-April.