2021 Kentucky Derby: Essential Quality, Life Is Good Favored Heading into February

The Road to the Kentucky Derby is about to get hot. Oaklawn Park runs the Smarty Jones on Friday, January 22. Then on Saturday, January 30, Santa Anita runs the Robert B. Lewis and Gulfstream Park runs the Holy Bull. Check out information on some of the buzz horses in our Kentucky Derby update. Also check out top plays and Horse Racing Odds from Kentucky Derby for Saturday, May 1. You can also visit our Online Racebook to place your bets on active racetracks.

Updated 2021 Kentucky Derby Betting Analysis

  • When: Saturday, May 1, 2021
  • Where: Churchill Downs, Louisville, KY

Life Is Good +600 and Essential Quality +700 huge favorites compared to the rest

Two horses are attracting the most action heading into the month of February. The Bob Baffert trained Life Is Good and 2020 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner Essential Quality offer much lower odds than the other horses.

Life Is Good followed up his maiden with a victory in the 1 mile Sham Stakes on January 2. The Into Mischief sired colt has the look of a front-running beast. The big question heading into February? Is Life Is Good more Dortmund than Authentic?

Dortmund had the front-running monster look when he dominated his competition in 2015. The Baffert runner couldn’t carry his speed to a victory in the Derby, though, falling to eventual Triple Crown winner American Pharoah.

Essential Quality, the Brad Cox trained runner and Juvenile winner, calls Tapit his father. Tapit is North America’s top sire. But Tapit has never sired a Derby winner. He has sired 3 Belmont Stakes winners, though.

Godolphin has never campaigned a winner on the first Saturday in May. It may be too early to back either favorite to win on May 1.

Concert Tour, at +1400, has that “Justify” look

One of the reasons to not jump all over Life Is Good or Essential Quality is because of Concert Tour. The Baffert trainee broke his maiden like a future champion in his first lifetime race.

Sired by 2007 Kentucky Derby winner Street Sense and from Tapit sired broodmare Purse Strings, Concert Tour offers better odds than both Life Is Good and Essential Quality.

Baffert has yet to say where he will run next. The runner didn’t break his maiden until January 15. If Concert Tour does win the Derby, he’ll take the same path as 2018 Triple Crown winner, and Baffert trainee, Justify.

Midnight Bourbon becomes top overlay at +5000 after Lecomte victory

Winstar Farms recently pensioned two-time Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Tiznow, meaning the hall of fame runner won’t produce any more horses. It’s fitting, then, that one of his last colts became a Kentucky Derby contender.

Trained by Steve Asmussen, Midnight Bourbon won the Lecomte via a front-running score. Bourbon held off 4/5 race favorite Mandaloun and Proxy, a Godolphin horse trained by Michael Stidham.

The overlay odds horse must continue to improve. If he does, he’ll have a much better shot on May 1 to win the Run for the Roses than +5000.

Cowan and Caddo River headline Friday’s, Smarty Jones Stakes at Oaklawn Park

This weekend’s top Derby prep happens on Friday. Oaklawn Park’s opening day is January 22. Make sure to check out the Smarty Jones Stakes.

Caddo River, trained by Brad Cox, and Cowan, a Steve Asmussen trainee, headline the 7 horse field. The Smarty Jones winner becomes a Kentucky Derby contender. So check out the race.

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