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Contender Analysis for the 2021 Kentucky Derby – Highly Motivated, Soup and Sandwich, and Dynamic One
The most well-known horse race in the United States will be taking place at Churchill Downs the first Saturday in May.
In this four-part series, I’m analyzing some of the top contenders for the 2021 Kentucky Derby. I examine their history, form and chances of crossing the finish line first.
The third set of horses in the lineup are Highly Motivated, Soup and Sandwich, and Dynamic One.
To learn more about betting on the Kentucky Derby, be sure to check out our complete guide.
The odds are calling Highly Motivated a 10/1 possibility to win the 2021 Kentucky Derby, despite having won only two of his five career starts, and despite a three-month lay-off across the end of 2020 and the beginning of 2021.
Prime time, in other words, for Kentucky Derby wannabes.
What is it about this colt that has convinced handicappers he has a chance, all out of proportion with his record?
Highly Motivated’s Trainer
Chad C. Brown has 15 Breeders Cup wins on his record and has moneyed even more. He’s had serious contenders in all three of the Triple Crown runs, most recently with Gronkowski in the 2018 Belmont Stakes.
In 2020, Brown was ranked in the top ten trainers in wins and among the top five for earnings.
Brown didn’t race Highly Motivated between November 2020 and March 2021, believing the two-year-old bay colt need time to rest up and train.
Just prior to the Gotham Stakes in late March, Brown said this of Highly Motivated.
Despite some jostling and bobbing, Highly Motivated did indeed give a good account of himself with a solid third-place finish in the Gotham behind fellow KD contenders Weyburn and another Brown pupil, Crowded Trade.
Highly Motivated’s Jockey
Javier Castellano has been in the irons for all five of Highly Motivated’s runs, so it is likely he’s the top contender to ride the colt at the 2021 Kentucky Derby.
Of Highly Motivated’s second-place finish in his latest race, the Blue Grass Stakes, Castellano stated how proud he was of the horse.
Highly Motivated’s Owner & Breeder
For the last three decades Klaravich Stables, Inc. has been building to its current size of more than 100 horses in training. The “Klaravich” in the stable’s name is taken from the two original owners, Seth Klarman and Jeff Ravich.
The stable not only trains horses, but breeds the horses as well. Many of the products of that side of the business are given names related to finance or transactions, like Cloud Computing, Pricedtoperfection, Crowded Trade, and, of course, Highly Motivated.
Highly Motivated’s Recent Form
Highly Motivated has won just two of his five career starts; his second maiden run back in September, and the Nyquist Stakes (Black Type) at Keeneland in November.
He moneyed in the other three, placing second in his first maiden race, third in the Gotham Stakes at Aqueduct in March of this year (getting on the Road to the Kentucky Derby leaderboard with ten points), and then another second-place finish in the Blue Grass Stakes.
That second place in the Blue Grass Stakes was a real heartbreaker. He had been the frontrunner for most of the race, but was edged out in the stretch by Essential Quality, who won by a neck.
Soup and Sandwich
Everybody loves the underdog, or so they say. And if what they say is true, then we must all love Soup and Sandwich, the three-year-old gray colt from Florida with a ticket to the 2021 Kentucky Derby.
True, his record isn’t long or even particularly stirring, but he did win his maiden right out of the box, and then produced another win in a regular allowance-optional claiming race.
His third race was the Florida Derby in March, where he finished second behind Known Agenda and just ahead of Greatest Honour.
Soup and Sandwich’s Trainer
Mark E. Casse was in the top ten for both wins and earnings last year—not a particularly rare occurrence for someone who won his first race as a licensed trainer in 1979.
Since then, Casse has been named to the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame and has received a dozen of Canada’s annual Sovereign Award for Best Trainer.
He’s had three horses finish in the money in various Triple Crown runs (but not in the Kentucky Derby), along with five Breeders’ Cup wins and nine Breeders’ Cup money finishes.
If Soup and Sandwich were to win this year’s Kentucky Derby, it would be Casse’s first KD victory. Casse is also the trainer of KD-hopeful, Helium.
Soup and Sandwich’s Jockey
Soup and Sandwich has had a different top jockey aboard for each of his three career runs.
- Irad Ortiz, Jr. for his maiden
- Antonio Gallardo for his single allowance race
- John Velazquez for his second-place finish at the Florida Derby
Since competition for these jockeys will be fierce, it remains to be seen who Soup and Sandwich’s connections select for the Kentucky Derby run.
Soup and Sandwich’s Owner and Breeder
Florida-based Live Oak Plantation owns Soup and Sandwich, and its breeding operation, Live Oak Stud, produced him.
Soup and Sandwich is the latest result of a farm that produced 1982 Kentucky Derby competitor (and second-place finisher), Laser Light and 2017 Breeders’ Cup mile winner, World Approval.
Soup and Sandwich’s Recent Form
As with many three-year-old thoroughbreds tapped for the Kentucky Derby, Soup and Sandwich has only three starts on his record.
He aced his first maiden in January 2021 at Gulfstream Park, then went on to win an allowance-optional claiming run at Tampa Bay in late February.
His one Road to the Kentucky Derby qualifying race, the Florida Derby at Gulfstream Park in late March, resulted in a second-place finish and 40 Road points on the leaderboard.
Dynamic One has everything going for him. A great trainer, prestigious and knowledgeable owners, top jockeys.
So why does it feel like this three-year-old chestnut colt from Kentucky hasn’t got a snowball’s chance?
Let’s take a closer look.
Dynamic One’s Trainer
A seven-time Eclipse Award winner for Best Trainer and one of the top ten thoroughbred trainers in both wins and earnings, Pletcher has managed the careers of his Kentucky Derby hopefuls well, particularly in the case of Dynamic One.
He blames some of Dynamic One’s early failures on disadvantageous post positions. This is what ge told reporters after Dynamic One’s maiden win.
Dynamic One’s Jockey
Kendrick Carmouche and the Ortiz brothers Irad and Jose have all been in the irons for Dynamic One’s failures and his successes.
While Irad has ridden Dynamic One the most, it is Carmouche and Jose L. Ortiz who have been aboard for his victories.
Dynamic One’s Owner & Breeder
Dynamic One is owned by a partnership comprising Repole Stable, St. Elias Stable, and Phipps Stable in Kentucky.
His breeder was co-owner Phipps Stable, and he was sired by Union Rags, winner of the 2012 Belmont Stakes. His dam was Beat the Drums (out of Smart Strike).
Dynamic One’s Recent Form
It would be easy to attribute Dynamic One’s lack of success early on to his jockeys, or his trainer, or the quality of his competitors. But Irad Ortiz, Jr. was in the irons for Dynamic One’s three unsuccessful attempts to break his maiden. And his trainer is Todd Pletcher.
And while it is true, he was beaten in one of his unsuccessful maidens by fellow KD hopefuls Weyburn and Unbridled Honor, and in another by would-be KD competitor, Greatest Honour. In fact, it wasn’t until his fourth attempt in a maiden race that he succeeded—and that was against a very shallow field of four other horses.
Yes, his second-place finish behind stablemate Bourbonic at the Wood Memorial Stakes (Grade II) at Aqueduct in early April was an admirable run, but it represents only the second time in his career that his speed figures were in the triple digits.
In the final analysis, Dynamic only moneyed three of his five starts.
Who will wear the blanket of 554 roses in May? If you can’t be in the grandstand the day of the race; you can tune in and watch the excitement with 8.3 million other viewers and find out.
To learn more about the other horses, be sure to check out my other posts.