Kentucky Derby Picks and Predictions: Rock Your World Impresses

The best Kentucky Derby picks and betting predictions for 2021, including our favorite trifecta pick for the Kentucky Derby on Saturday, May 1.

Posted: May 1, 2021 8:10 AM ET Updated: May 1, 2021 8:10 AM ET
Kentucky Derby horses 2020
Photo By - USA TODAY Sports

Kentucky Derby betting is heading down the home stretch, with horse racing's most prestigious event just hours away. Post positions are in place and the 19-horse field set for this evening’s 147th “Run for the Roses”.  

Here are my free Kentucky Derby picks and predictions — including my trifecta pick — for Saturday, May 1.

Kentucky Derby picks

  • Win pick: Rock Your World (15)
  • Place pick: Hot Rod Charlie (9)
  • Show pick: Super Stock (18)
  • Trifecta pick: 15-9-18

Kentucky Derby picks analysis

Race favorite Essential Quality (6/5) is undefeated through five career starts and sits atop 2021 Kentucky Derby odds but while he looks like a major player, my lean is towards another promising horse also entering the Derby with an unblemished record. 

Win: No. 15 Rock Your World (Joel Rosario, John Sadler)

He impressed in his one dirt try in the Grade 1 Santa Anita Derby. He was left alone on the lead and was able to pull away late to a 4 ½-length victory. He's blessed with early speed and stamina on both sides of his pedigree which bodes well to handle the Kentucky Derby distance.

Projecting the pace scenario, he should be right there on the lead or just off it with Medina Spirit, another horse who has gotten out to quick starts. Midnight Bourbon, Highly Motivated or even Soup and Sandwich will also be among those speedier Kentucky Derby horses looking to be forwardly placed, but I am banking on Rock Your World to get that early jump out of an ideal draw.

Place: No. 9 Hot Rod Charlie (Flavien Prat, Doug O'Neill)

He showed a lot of promise as a two-year-old, finishing a solid second to Essential Quality in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile. His three-year-old campaign has been strong and he's been beaten by less than three lengths in both graded stakes tries this year.

What I gathered most from his effort in the Louisiana Derby is the ability to show early speed. Having tactical speed is a necessity and with how well speed horses have performed in the Derby this past decade, you don’t want to be too far off the pace. This colt fits that profile.

Show: No. 18 Super Stock (Ricardo Sanata Jr., Steve Asmussen)

The pace was quick in the Arkansas Derby, but this colt was able to fend off late closers to secure a 2 1/2 -length victory. While it was an off-race for favorite Concert Tour, seeing Super Stock boast early speed was a big positive after getting out to a slower start in the Rebel Stakes.

Trainer Steve Asmussen has not had much luck in the Kentucky Derby and has yet to send out a winner through 21 career starts. While he would need quite a bit of good fortune and a strong start from an outside draw, this colt has been steadily improving and could be Asmussen's best shot at breaking his Derby drought.

Kentucky Derby Trifecta Pick 

1. Rock Your World

2. Hot Rod Charlie

3. Super Stock

Picks made on 04/28/2021 at 9:30 a.m. ET.

Earlier Pick

Pick: Highly Motivated (+800 or higher)

Pick made April 24, 2021

Highly Motivated is the early lean for a Derby "value pick".

He's raced really well since stretching out in distance and trying his luck routing. He showed some early speed in his most recent prep race and that adds to the appeal, as he seems to possess versatility — something pivotal to Derby contenders loading the gate with 19 others, as things do not always go as planned.

He seems to be improving and in his most recent start, he finished a very game second after losing by a neck to Derby favorite Essential Quality. He should continue to improve with the added distance and if you search around, you can find this colt at double-digit odds.

Where can I bet on the Kentucky Derby?

Not every sportsbook allows you to wager on the Kentucky Derby. However, there are legal horse racing betting sites that allow you to place Derby bets.

Our guide explains where to bet and outlines the best Kentucky Derby betting sites available in your area.

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