Kentucky Derby 2021 contender rankings after the Breeders' Cup

Kentucky Derby 2021 contender rankings after the Breeders' Cup
Photo: Benoit

With the Breeders' Cup Juvenile in the books, early contenders for the 2021 Kentucky Derby have begun to emerge.

Jackie's Warrior rightfully claimed the top spot in HRN's 2-year-old rankings leading up to the Breeders' Cup, but after a fourth-place finish in the Juvenile and growing distance concerns, his arrow is on the way down.

The undefeated Essential Quality has taken over the No. 1 spot after his victory in the Juvenile. He is a deserving favorite, but a lot can happen between now and May.

At this time, HRN's Kentucky Derby Rankings list more 500 2-year-olds, including:

• More than 18 stakes winners, led by Breeders' Cup Juvenile winner Essential Quality, Champagne (G1) winner Jackie's Warrior, Del Mar Futurity (G1) winner Dr. Schivel and American Pharoah (G1) winner Get Her Number.

• Six colts trained by Steve Asmussen in the top 40, including Jackie's Warrior and Whiskey Double.

Who is rising:

Essential Quality — The Brad Cox trainee secured the top spot with an impressive score in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile. 

Hot Rod Charlie — Mitole's half-brother climbed up to the third spot following his runner-up effort in the Juvenile at 94-1.

Keepmeinmind — Though he is still a maiden, he proved his runner-up finish to Essential Quality in the Breeders' Futurity was not a fluke with a third-place effort in the Juvenile.

Highly Motivated — Chad Brown's colt followed a maiden score with a sharp win in the Nyquist Stakes on the Breeders' Cup undercard.

Who is falling:

Jackie's Warrior — The early Kentucky Derby favorite disappointed in his first test around two turns. He will have another opportunity to prove himself, but he might end up being a better sprinter. 

Reinvestment Risk — He had run big figures while chasing Jackie's Warrior in prep races but could only manage a 10th-place finish in the Juvenile.

Upcoming prep races: 

Kentucky Jockey Club (G2), Churchill Downs, 1 1/16 miles, Nov. 28

Remsen (G2), Aqueduct, 1 1/8 miles, Dec. 5

Los Alamitos Futurity (G2), Los Alamitos, 1 1/16 miles, Dec. 19

[RELATED: Kentucky Derby futures odds — who's up, who's down]

The contender rankings are generated by user and staff ratings for 2-year-old male horses. If the list is missing a horse you are watching, you may add that horse, rate it and watch it climb the ladder. Click here for more on HRN’s Power Rankings and voting.

Below is a screen shot of the top 20 contenders. Click the complete list of 2-year-old rankings to see all the contenders for the 2021 Kentucky Derby.

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