Essential Quality is 2-1 favorite for the Kentucky Derby

Racing

FILE – Jockey Luis Saez rides Essential Quality to win the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile horse race at Keeneland Race Course in Lexington, Ky., in this Friday, Nov. 6, 2020, file photo. Essential Quality is expected to be the first gray horse favored to win the Kentucky Derby in 25 years. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy, File)

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Essential Quality is the 2-1 morning line favorite and will start from the No. 14 post for Saturday’s 147th Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs.

The $3 million, 1 1/4-mile marquee race for 3-year-colts is back on the first Saturday of May after being delayed to Labor Day weekend last fall because of the coronavirus pandemic. The race is expected to be viewed in-person by 45,000 spectators.

Rock Your World is the 5-1 second choice from the No. 15 slot with Known Agenda the 6-1 third choice despite drawing the rail in the 20-horse field. Hot Rod Charlie drew 8-1 odds as the fourth choice from the No. 9 slot.

The obvious focus in on Essential Quality, the reigning 2-year-old champion who enters the Run for the Roses 5-0. His haul of graded stakes victories includes a gutsy Blue Grass victory at Keeneland on April 3 that vaulted the gray son of Tapit to the top of the Derby standings with 140 points and cemented him as the projected favorite.

He’s one of two entries trained by Brad Cox, who grew up a few blocks from Churchill Downs and is trying to become the first Louisville native to win the race. The Eclipse Award-winner will also saddle Mandaloun from the No. 7 as a 15-1 choice in his Derby debut.

Unbeaten Rock Your World, trained by John Sadler, comes in 3-0 following a 4¼-length victory in the Santa Anita Derby.

Known Agenda leads Todd Pletcher’s four-horse contingent that includes Bourbonic, who drew the outside No. 20 post; Dynamic One (No. 11, 20-1 odds) and Sainthood (No. 5, 50-1). The chestnut colt has won two of three starts this season and has three wins, a second and a third in six career starts.

Hot Rod Charlie’s post draw in the middle brought a loud cheer from his contingent as the colt avoided being bunched inside out of the gate. Trainer Doug O’Neill’s colt won the Louisiana Derby by two lengths and was second to Essential Quality with 110 Derby points.

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