The 147th running of the $3 million Kentucky Derby (G1) will take place on Saturday at Churchill Downs. The historic 1 1/4-mile race has drawn a competitive field of 20 three-year-old Thoroughbreds, all vying for a place in history under the fabled Twin Spires.

Known Agenda
Total 6 start(s)
Wins:
3
Place:
1
Show:
1
Top Speed Rating:
(101) when winning the Florida Derby (G1).
Total Earnings:
$541,700
Owner:
St. Elias Stable
Breeder:
St. Elias Stable
Trainer:
Todd Pletcher
Jockey:
Irad Ortiz
Sire:
Curlin
Dam:
Byrama
Color:
Chestnut

Known Agenda has shown dramatic improvement since adding blinkers, and he finished fast to dominate the Florida Derby (G1) with a 101 Brisnet Speed rating. The son of Curlin is bred to thrive running 1 1/4 miles, but will have to avoid getting buried behind runners from the rail draw. The greenness Known Agenda has shown in the past is another potential question mark; even in the Florida Derby, he drifted sharply toward the rail in the homestretch.

Like the King
Total 6 start(s)
Wins:
3
Place:
2
Show:
1
Top Speed Rating:
(94) when winning the Jeff Ruby Steaks (G3).
Total Earnings:
$200,680
Owner:
M. Racing Group
Breeder:
Horseshoe Racing
Trainer:
Wesley Ward
Jockey:
Drayden Van Dyke
Sire:
Palace Malice
Dam:
Like a Queen
Color:
Chestnut

Like the King showed a nice stretch kick to win the Jeff Ruby Steaks (G3) at Turfway Park, but runner-up Sainthood had a significantly troubled trip and might have been the best horse. It's also worth noting Like the King has done his finest work over synthetic and turf surfaces, so switching to dirt at Churchill Downs is a question mark.

Brooklyn Strong
Total 5 start(s)
Wins:
3
Place:
0
Show:
1
Top Speed Rating:
(107) when winning the Remsen (G2).
Total Earnings:
$225,000
Owner:
Mark Schwartz
Breeder:
Cheryl Prudhomme
Trainer:
Danny Velazquez
Jockey:
Umberto Rispoli
Sire:
Wicked Strong
Dam:
Riviera Chic
Color:
Bay

Brooklyn Strong defeated Known Agenda by a wide margin over a sloppy track in the Remsen (G2) last fall, counting Known Agenda among his beaten rivals. But the bay colt has only run once in the interim, finishing fifth in a slow renewal of the Wood Memorial (G2). Brooklyn Strong will need a step forward in his second start of the season if he’s going to challenge in the Kentucky Derby.

Keepmeinmind
Total 6 start(s)
Wins:
1
Place:
2
Show:
1
Top Speed Rating:
(98) when finishing third in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile (G1).
Total Earnings:
$424,987
Owner:
Cypress Creek and Arnold Bennewith
Breeder:
Southern Equine Stables
Trainer:
Robertino Diodoro
Jockey:
David Cohen
Sire:
Laoban
Dam:
Inclination
Color:
Bay

Keepmeinmind won the Kentucky Jockey Club (G2) at Churchill Downs last fall, but severe winter weather subsequently threw off his training schedule. Keepmeinmind failed to factor when sixth in the Rebel (G2) and fifth in the Blue Grass (G2), but he turned in a fast workout at Churchill last week and he might have upside to rebound while dropping blinkers.

Sainthood
Total 3 start(s)
Wins:
1
Place:
2
Show:
0
Top Speed Rating:
(93) when finishing second in the Jeff Ruby Steaks (G3).
Total Earnings:
$91,900
Owner:
WinStar Farm and CHC
Breeder:
Edward Taylor and Springland Farm
Trainer:
Todd Pletcher
Jockey:
Corey Lanerie
Sire:
Mshawish
Dam:
Lemon Hero
Color:
Dark bay/brown

Sainthood endured a rough trip in the Jeff Ruby Steaks (G3), waiting behind rivals and getting bounced around in traffic before rallying boldly to finish second. Veteran Churchill Downs jockey Corey Lanerie takes over the mount and may employ ground-saving tactics from post 5, introducing the possibility for Sainthood to outrun expectations.

O Besos
Total 5 start(s)
Wins:
2
Place:
0
Show:
1
Top Speed Rating:
(94) when finishing third in the Louisiana Derby (G2).
Total Earnings:
$172,624
Owner:
Bernard Racing, Tagg Team Racing, West Point Thoroughbreds, and Terry L. Stephens
Breeder:
Bernard L. Barrett
Trainer:
Greg Foley
Jockey:
Marcelino Pedroza
Sire:
Orb
Dam:
Snuggs and Kisses
Color:
Chestnut

O Besos rode the rail to a third-place finish in the Louisiana Derby (G2), which marked yet another step forward from the improving son of 2013 Kentucky Derby winner Orb. Indeed, O Besos finished fast over the final three furlongs and was only beaten two lengths, so one more step forward can put him in the hunt for a top-four finish at Churchill Downs.

Mandaloun
Total 5 start(s)
Wins:
3
Place:
0
Show:
1
Top Speed Rating:
(100) when winning the Risen Star (G2).
Total Earnings:
$361,252
Owner:
Juddmonte
Breeder:
Juddmonte Farms
Trainer:
Brad Cox
Jockey:
Florent Geroux
Sire:
Into Mischief
Dam:
Brooch
Color:
Bay

Mandaloun won three of his first four starts, including the Risen Star (G2) at Fair Grounds, where he posted a career-best 100 Brisnet Speed rating. But the Juddmonte Farms homebred faltered without an obvious excuse in the Louisiana Derby (G2), finishing sixth as the 13-10 favorite. He’s come back to train strongly for hot trainer Brad Cox, but it’s hard to project how he’ll perform off his disappointing final prep. The last horse to win the Derby after finishing fifth or worse in his final prep run was Iron Liege in 1957.

Medina Spirit
Total 5 start(s)
Wins:
2
Place:
3
Show:
0
Top Speed Rating:
(98) when finishing second in the Santa Anita Derby (G1).
Total Earnings:
$315,200
Owner:
Zedan Racing Stables
Breeder:
Gail Rice
Trainer:
Bob Baffert
Jockey:
John Velazquez
Sire:
Protonico
Dam:
Mongolian Changa
Color:
Dark bay/brown

Medina Spirit has won or placed in four straight Road to the Kentucky Derby prep races, most recently when second with a wide trip in the Santa Anita Derby (G1). Trainer Bob Baffert has won the Kentucky Derby six times, but Medina Spirit seems to have hit a form plateau and may have less upside for improvement than some of his rivals. The last horse to win the Kentucky Derby after racing in four winter/spring stakes as a three-year-old was Smarty Jones in 2004.

Hot Rod Charlie
Total 7 start(s)
Wins:
2
Place:
1
Show:
2
Top Speed Rating:
(100) when finishing second in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile (G1).
Total Earnings:
$1,005,700
Owner:
Roadrunner Racing, Boat Racing, Strauss Bros Racing, and Gainesway Thoroughbreds
Breeder:
Edward A. Cox Jr.
Trainer:
Doug O'Neill
Jockey:
Flavien Prat
Sire:
Oxbow
Dam:
Indian Miss
Color:
Dark bay/brown

Hot Rod Charlie enters off a determined victory in the Louisiana Derby (G2), where he carved out most of the pace before edging away to win by two lengths. The Kentucky Derby will mark his third start of the season, a strategy employed by trainer Doug O’Neill with his previous Derby winners I’ll Have Another (2012) and Nyquist (2016). Hot Rod Charlie has kept good company and brings competitive Brisnet Speed ratings to the table, so don’t count him out.

Midnight Bourbon
Total 7 start(s)
Wins:
2
Place:
2
Show:
3
Top Speed Rating:
(98) when finishing second in the Risen Star (G2).
Total Earnings:
$471,420
Owner:
Winchell Thoroughbreds
Breeder:
Stonestreet Thoroughbred Holdings
Trainer:
Steve Asmussen
Jockey:
Mike Smith
Sire:
Tiznow
Dam:
Catch the Moon
Color:
Bay

Midnight Bourbon hasn’t missed the trifecta in five Road to the Kentucky Derby prep races, including a runner-up effort in the Louisiana Derby (G2). He has plenty of tactical speed (an asset in recent Kentucky Derbys) and picks up Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith. The only concern is the 1 1/4-mile distance of the Kentucky Derby, since Midnight Bourbon has given the impression of being most comfortable as a miler.

Dynamic One
Total 5 start(s)
Wins:
1
Place:
2
Show:
0
Top Speed Rating:
(95) when finishing second in a Gulfstream Park maiden race.
Total Earnings:
$194,120
Owner:
Repole Stable, Phipps Stable, and St. Elias Stable
Breeder:
Phipps Stable
Trainer:
Todd Pletcher
Jockey:
Jose Ortiz
Sire:
Union Rags
Dam:
Beat the Drums
Color:
Chestnut

Dynamic One outran expectations to finish second by a head in the Wood Memorial (G2), a race in which he arguably moved too soon and struck the front prematurely. But the Wood Memorial wasn’t the fastest race on paper, leaving handicappers to wonder if Dynamic One has the class to compete at the Grade 1 level.

Helium
Total 3 start(s)
Wins:
3
Place:
0
Show:
0
Top Speed Rating:
(93) when winning the Tampa Bay Derby.
Total Earnings:
$287,763
Owner:
D. J. Stable
Breeder:
Teneri Farm and Bernardo Alvarez Calderon
Trainer:
Mark Casse
Jockey:
Julien Leparoux
Sire:
Ironicus
Dam:
Thundering Emilia
Color:
Bay

Helium is undefeated in three starts over synthetic and dirt, including a determined victory in the Tampa Bay Derby (G2). At Tampa, Helium showed talent and grit to sweep past rivals on the far turn and turn back a late bid from Hidden Stash. But the son of Ironicus is entering the Derby off a two-month layoff, and his career-best 93 Brisnet Speed rating is a little light.

Hidden Stash
Total 7 start(s)
Wins:
2
Place:
1
Show:
2
Top Speed Rating:
(93) when finishing second in the Tampa Bay Derby (G2).
Total Earnings:
$231,062
Owner:
BBN Racing
Breeder:
Rhineshire Farm
Trainer:
Victoria Oliver
Jockey:
Rafael Bejarano
Sire:
Constitution
Dam:
Making Mark Money
Color:
Chestnut

Hidden Stash couldn’t quite catch Helium in the Tampa Bay Derby (G2), after which he passed tired rivals to finish a distant fourth in the Blue Grass (G2). The son of hot young sire Constitution won an allowance race at Churchill Downs last fall, but enters the Kentucky Derby a bit light from a Brisnet Speed rating perspective. It's also worth noting Hidden Stash has lost ground down the homestretch of his last two starts, hinting he might be better over shorter distances.

Essential Quality
Total 5 start(s)
Wins:
5
Place:
0
Show:
0
Top Speed Rating:
(102) when winning the Blue Grass (G2).
Total Earnings:
$2,265,144
Owner:
Godolphin
Breeder:
Godolphin
Trainer:
Brad Cox
Jockey:
Luis Saez
Sire:
Tapit
Dam:
Delightful Quality
Color:
Gray/roan

Essential Quality is the horse to beat after going 5-for-5 under the care of Brad Cox. The champion two-year-old male of 2020 has already defeated half a dozen of his Kentucky Derby rivals and finished fast to win the Blue Grass (G2) by a hard-fought neck. He’s versatile in terms of running style and enters off a competitive 102 Brisnet Speed rating, so it’s hard to knock his chances. The only chink in Essential Quality’s armor is his reputation for “paddling” with his left front leg, a stride deficiency that could limit his potential for stretching out over 1 1/4 miles.

Rock Your World
Total 3 start(s)
Wins:
3
Place:
0
Show:
0
Top Speed Rating:
(102) when winning the Santa Anita Derby (G1).
Total Earnings:
$546,600
Owner:
Hronis Racing and Talla Racing
Breeder:
Ron McAnally and Deborah McAnally
Trainer:
John Sadler
Jockey:
Joel Rosario
Sire:
Candy Ride
Dam:
Charm the Maker
Color:
Dark bay/brown

Rock Your World is unbeaten in three starts on the Southern California circuit, including a gate-to-wire romp in the Santa Anita Derby (G1). Rock Your World’s breakout win produced a 102 Brisnet Speed rating, and he looms as the probable pacesetter on paper. He’ll just have to avoid racing behind rivals, since he’s only run once on dirt and has no experience facing kickback.

King Fury
Total 6 start(s)
Wins:
3
Place:
0
Show:
0
Top Speed Rating:
(95) when winning the Lexington (G3).
Total Earnings:
$262,739
Owner:
Fern Circle Stables, Three Chimneys Farm, and Magdalena Racing
Breeder:
Helder Family Stables
Trainer:
Kenny McPeek
Jockey:
Brian Hernandez
Sire:
Curlin
Dam:
Taris
Color:
Chestnut

King Fury capitalized on a fast pace to produce an inside rally and dominate the Lexington (G3) by 2 3/4 lengths. A beautifully bred son of Curlin out of Grade 1 winner Taris, King Fury also won the Street Sense S. at Churchill Downs last fall, beating future Arkansas Derby (G1) winner Super Stock. But it may be difficult for King Fury to catch another ground-saving trip while starting from post 16.

Highly Motivated
Total 5 start(s)
Wins:
2
Place:
2
Show:
1
Top Speed Rating:
(102) when finishing second in the Blue Grass (G2).
Total Earnings:
$320,050
Owner:
Klaravich Stables
Breeder:
Klaravich Stables
Trainer:
Chad Brown
Jockey:
Javier Castellano
Sire:
Into Mischief
Dam:
Strong Incentive
Color:
Bay

True, Highly Motivated was beaten a neck by Essential Quality in the Blue Grass (G2) after carving out the pace. But the son of hot sire Into Mischief finished fast and earned a third consecutive 102 Brisnet Speed rating, stamping him among the fastest horses in the Kentucky Derby field. Highly Motivated has only run twice this season and appears poised to peak on the first Saturday in May, so it’s not unrealistic to think he can turn the tables on Essential Quality.

Super Stock
Total 8 start(s)
Wins:
2
Place:
2
Show:
2
Top Speed Rating:
(97) when winning the Arkansas Derby (G1).
Total Earnings:
$804,762
Owner:
Erv Woolsey and Keith Asmussen
Breeder:
Pedro Gonzalez and P. J. Gonzalez
Trainer:
Steve Asmussen
Jockey:
Ricardo Santana
Sire:
Dialed In
Dam:
Super Girlie
Color:
Bay

Super Stock was clearly best in the Arkansas Derby (G1), rallying boldly down the stretch to win by 2 1/2 lengths. This marked a career-best effort from the son of Dialed In, who had previously hit the board three times at the graded stakes level without winning. But Super Stock did benefit from a fast early/slow late pace scenario, and breaking from post 18 in the Kentucky Derby is bound to present a more challenging set of circumstances.

Soup and Sandwich
Total 3 start(s)
Wins:
2
Place:
1
Show:
0
Top Speed Rating:
(98) when finishing second in the Florida Derby (G1).
Total Earnings:
$203,875
Owner:
Live Oak Plantation
Breeder:
Live Oak Stud
Trainer:
Mark Casse
Jockey:
Tyler Gafallione
Sire:
Into Mischief
Dam:
Souper Scoop
Color:
Gray/roan

Soup and Sandwich dueled for the lead in the Florida Derby (G1) before weakening slightly down the homestretch to finish second by 2 3/4 lengths. This was an encouraging effort for his stakes debut, and Tyler Gaffalione (a rising star jockey at Churchill Downs) is picking up the mount. But Soup and Sandwich has unfortunately drawn post 19, so the speedy colt will have his work cut out to avoid wide trip.

Bourbonic
Total 6 start(s)
Wins:
3
Place:
1
Show:
0
Top Speed Rating:
(94) when winning the Wood Memorial (G2).
Total Earnings:
$465,880
Owner:
Calumet Farm
Breeder:
Calumet Farm
Trainer:
Todd Pletcher
Jockey:
Kendrick Carmouche
Sire:
Bernardini
Dam:
Dancing Afleet
Color:
Dark bay/brown

Bourbonic shocked the world when rallying to win the Wood Memorial (G2) at odds of 72-1, but the son of Bernardini may have benefited from rallying late over a very slow and tiring track. The Wood Memorial came back light on the Brisnet Speed rating scale, suggesting Bourbonic will need another step forward to challenge at Churchill Downs.