Kentucky Derby 2021 odds: See the early morning line

Kentucky Derby 2021 odds: See the early morning line
Photo: Ted McClenning / Eclipse Sportswire

Win Big on Kentucky Derby 2021!
Coming in as the Breeders' Cup Juvenile champ and undefeated in five starts, there is little question that Essential Quality will be heavily favored in Kentucky Derby 2021. Instead the main questions are: How low will his odds go, and who will be the second choice?

[RELATED – Kentucky Derby 2021: See the latest field of 20 horses]

How low on Essential Quality?

Looking back at the last eight years, we can see that when there was a clear favorite, aside from last year, they fell in the 2-1 or 5-2 range.  Justify (2.90-1), Nyquist (2.30-1), American Pharoah (2.90-1) and California Chrome (2.50-1) all were solid favorites, but with a big field and a couple lingering questions on each, all stayed between 2.30-1 and 2.90-1.

Kentucky Derby Favorites 2013-2020 

YearFavorite Odds Finish 
2020Tiz the Law 0.70-12nd
2019Improbable 4.00-14th 
2018Justify 2.90-11st 
2017Always Dreaming 4.70-11st 
2016Nyquist 2.30-11st 
2015American Pharoah  2.90-11st 
2014California Chrome 2.50-11st 
2013Orb 5.40-11st 

Similarities to Nyquist in 2016

Comparing these last runnings, Essential Quality has quite a few things in common with Nyquist, the favorite and 2016 Kentucky Derby winner:

• Both came into the Derby undefeated (Nyquist was 7-7, Essential Quality is 5-5).

• Both were Breeders' Cup Juvenile champs.

• Neither had dominant speed figures. In 2016, Exaggerator came in with a 103 Beyer speed figure in the Santa Anita Derby in the slop, followed by Nyquist, who ran only a 92 in the Florida Derby. This year, Essential Quality comes in off a 97 Beyer in the Blue Grass, which was equalled by Highly Motivated in the same race. But three others have higher Beyer speed figures since Feb. 1: Rock Your World, 100, Santa Anita Derby; Hot Rod Charlie, 99, Louisiana Derby; Mandaloun, 98, Risen Star).

Kentucky Derby 2021 Odds Line

Putting this all together, we decided to make Essential Quality a 5-2 early-line favorite. In addition to everything mentioned above, this is looking like a very top-heavy betting race. By that, we mean the top few choices look significantly ahead of the rest of the field. If you are looking to beat Essential Quality, there are only a few options.

Rock Your World makes the most sense as he not only comes in undefeated, but he holds the highest Beyer figure in the field with a 100 in the Santa Anita Derby compared with Essential Quality's 97 in the Blue Grass.  And with the defection of Concert Tour, trainer John Sadler picked up Joel Rosario to ride. But the big difference between these two is Rock Your World has run on the dirt only once. Still, with those positives, we made Rock Your World the second choice at 9-2 on our early line. 

For third and fourth choices, we felt that the most logical places to go were Highly Motivated, who lost by only a neck to Essential Quality in the Blue Grass, and Known Agenda, an impressive winner of the Florida Derby for trainer Todd Pletcher who gets the riding services of Irad Ortiz Jr.

Here is our complete Kentucky Derby 2021 early odds line as of Sunday, April 18: 

Kentucky Derby 2021 odds early line Kentucky Derby 2021 odds line early

On Monday, senior writer Matt Shifman, who contributed to this odds line, will unveil our early Kentucky Derby odds and analysis. 

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