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HOME > > Casino City’s Friday Five: Kentucky Derby best bets edition

Casino City’s Friday Five: Kentucky Derby best bets edition

30 April 2021

By Dan Ippolito

The sports world will be fully focused on horse racing on Saturday for the 147th running of the Kentucky Derby. There will be fans in attendance and Churchill Downs will feel much more normal than it did for the 146th edition of the race.

With a post time of 6:57 p.m. ET, the Kentucky Derby has several horses who can win the first jewel of the Triple Crown. Here, we take a look at a few bets to consider for Saturday’s race.

5. The Big 3
As of now, the top three favorites are Essential Quality (+250), Rock Your World (+500) and Known Agenda (+750). There are a few horses right behind them at +800 so this could change by post time. That being said, odds on one of the “Big 3” winning the race is hovering around -125 currently on some books.

I will make this bet, meaning one of the top three horses needs to win the Kentucky Derby. Yes, Essential Quality and Rock Your World are near the outside at the No. 14 and No. 15 posts, respectively, but they are favorites for a reason. Then you take a look at Known Agenda. Yes, he is in the dreaded No. 1 post position on the rail so it could be tough for him, but I have also learned to not bet against Todd Pletcher and his horses so I don’t mind backing him as part of the “Big 3.”

4. Hot Rod Charlie to show
I normally don’t dabble in show bets very often, but this horse has me intrigued enough to do it. Hot Rod Charlie is coming off a Louisiana Derby victory. The horse has proven his skill. You may wonder if I am very impressed with this horse, why not pick him to win? Well, Hot Rod Charlie has been in a race with Essential Quality before and, despite keeping it close, did fail to win that race.

Hot Rod Charlie has proven he can keep up with the top horses in this race but hasn’t taken the finish line from them so I like Hot Rod Charlie to show, or finish anywhere in the top three, as a safer wager here.

3. Known Agenda to place
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, do not take any Todd Pletcher horse lightly, even when starting in the 1 post position. In his six career races, Known Agenda has come out on top three times and finished second once. He has won his last two races since adding blinkers so he is in good form.

It will be a challenge for him to get out early on the rail and not get blocked off since he is starting on the inside. It is still tough to back him to win it all with how many solid horses are in the field. I am still confident in this horse but am taking a more protected approach here and taking Known Agenda to finish anywhere in the top two.

2. Exacta Box 14, 15/1
Going back to my first bet with the Big 3 winning the race, I am pretty much doubling down here with my exacta box. Essential Quality has won all five career races so that stat isn’t easy to take lightly. While he isn’t my absolute top horse to win it all, I am playing it smart here by including him in my exacta box as sort of an insurance play.

Rock Your World raced earlier this month and had an impressive victory at Santa Anita, winning by more than four lengths. Even though he has only three races to his name, Rock Your World has finished first in all three.

You guys know my reasoning for liking Known Agenda to be in the mix at the top. So my exacta box is either Rock Your World or Essential Quality to finish first, followed by Known Agenda to finish second.

1. Rock Your World to win
It wouldn’t be the “Most Exciting Two Minutes in Sports” without picking an outright winner.

Despite having over 2,500 career wins, trainer John Sadler has never seen one of his horses win at the Kentucky Derby, but that could easily change tomorrow and that is what I am going with.

Currently, Rock Your World is the second favorite in the field behind Essential Quality. Joel Rosario will be riding Rock Your World and don’t be surprised when you see No. 15 cross the finish line first. I am taking Rock Your World to take the first leg of the Triple Crown.

Dan Ippolito
As Casino City's associate editor, Dan produces and edits all of our weekly newsletters, and he writes about the gaming industry for our websites and the GPWA Times Magazine. Dan graduated from Marist College in 2017 with a degree in Communications and a concentration in Sports.

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