After being postponed to Labor Day weekend last year due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Kentucky Derby returns to its rightful place on the first weekend of May, and all eyes are on betting favorite Essential Quality. With two to one odds, Essential Quality easily beats out horses like Rock Your World, Known Agenda and Rod Charlie, who have five to one, six to one and eight to one odds respectfully.

Las Vegas’s confidence in Essential Quality stems from the young horse’s impressive resume, which includes five victories in five chances, all with rider Luis Saez at the helm. The most recent of these victories occurred just a month ago, on April 3, at the Blue Grass Stakes.

Essential Quality will start from post 14, and Rock Your World will start right next to him, at post 15. Rock Your World is second in these odds because he too is undefeated in three previous races. Rider John Sadler was quite happy with the given post, stating “It’s a good post and we’re happy with it.”

While the top five horses have drawn the majority of bets thus far, there are value plays and sleepers. Chief amongst them is Midnight Bourbon, whose currently plus 2000. Midnight Bourbon has placed in all of its seven races thus far. He has two victories, two second-place finishes and three third-place finishes. In its last race at the Louisiana Derby, Midnight Bourbon managed to snag a runner-up finish, only falling to fellow 2021 Kentucky Derby horse Hot Rod Charlie. His rider Steven Asmussen has Kentucky Derby experience as well, placing third in 2016.

Other major things to look out for this weekend, include the implementation of a new rule regarding the use of Lasix. Lasix is a race day medication given to the horses. It’s goal is to prevent or reduce exercise-induced bleeding in the lungs, as well as enabling horses to urinate and lose 20 to 30 pounds of fluid. This urination and subsequent weight loss gives the horses an added speed advantage. A horse hasn’t won a derby without this diuretic in over 20 years, so it should provide an interesting wrinkle to an already fascinating weekend. This is also the second consecutive derby with 20 stalls instead of the typical 14, meaning racers in the 16 through 20 spots must try their absolute hardest to not be bunched outside. With these factors, a favorite everyone wants to see fall and an actual crowd, it’s shaping up to be one of the better derby’s in recent memory.

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