The fluidity of William Hill’s Kentucky Derby future odds six months from the 2021 Derby clearly illustrated itself before last Friday’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile.

Essential Quality-Derby Odds 2
Jockey Luis Saez and Essential Quality were exactly that, capturing last week’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. Essential Quality is the prohibitive 10/1 favorite on William Hill’s Kentucky Derby Futures Board. (Image: Michael Conroy/AP)

Note, the key word here: “before.” Because, before undefeated 4/5 Juvenile favorite Jackie’s Warrior entered the Keeneland starting gate, he was no longer the darling of William Hill’s Derby futures bettors. That was Essential Quality, who had his Derby futures opening odds of 20/1 whittled to 12/1 before the gate opened for the Juvenile.

Barely 100 seconds later, that smart money on Essential Quality proved itself even smarter after the Breeders’ Futurity winner captured the Juvenile in resounding fashion. That dropped Essential Quality’s Derby futures odds to 10/1 – the lowest on William Hill’s board.

As Essential Quality’s odds depressed, his Derby qualifying points lifted him atop the points ladder. With 20 points for winning the Juvenile and 10 for the Breeders’ Futurity win, Essential Quality has 30 points.

Two Turns May Be One Too Far for Jackie’s Warrior

Jackie’s Warrior, meanwhile, opened at William Hill at 15/1. He stayed there until his fourth-place finish in the Juvenile — beaten by 6 ¼ lengths as that 4/5 favorite. That lifted the Steve Asmussen charge to 40/1 as lingering questions about Jackie’s Warrior’s ability to navigate two turns answered themselves in the negative. His four victories all came on one-turn races.

Right behind Jackie’s Warrior sits Highly Motivated, who was one of two horses making dramatic moves out of the weekend. Highly Motivated went from 125/1 to 45/1 after the Chad Brown charge won the Nyquist Stakes on the Breeders’ Cup undercard. That was the Into Mischief colt’s second consecutive victory, and it came with a career-best 101 Equibase Speed Figure.

The other dramatic odds drop came from Hot Rod Charlie, who nearly pulled off the upset of the Breeders’ Cup, when – at 94/1 – he was a sixteenth-of-a-mile away from winning the Juvenile. Even after Essential Quality roared by him, oddsmakers saw enough to knock Hot Rod Charlie’s odds from 140/1 to 50/1.

The Doug O’Neill trainee shares that number with Dr. Schivel, who sat out the Breeders’ Cup and won’t run until early next year.

2021 Kentucky Derby Top Contenders

Essential Quality 10/1
Jackie’s Warrior 40/1
Highly Motivated 45/1
Dr. Schivel 50/1
Hot Rod Charlie 50/1
Jaxon Traveler 60/1
Cazadero 75/1
Get Her Number 75/1
Huntsinger 75/1
Kenny Had A Notion 75/1
Midnight Bourbon 75/1
Mutasaabeq 75/1
Olympiad 75/1

Source: William Hill Nevada

This week’s revised odds show only 12 horses carrying odds lower than 100/1. They also show how gravity can reverse itself in futures odds.

What goes down can go back up, as we saw with Classier (125/1 from 35/1), Sittin On Go (100/1 from 35/1), Next (125/1 from 75/1), and Likeable (130/1 from 75/1). Classier finished eighth in the Juvenile, Sittin On Go ninth, Likeable 13th, and Next, 14th and last.

On the deep end of William Hill’s board, Valiant Thor replaced Advance Cash (250/1) as the longest shot. After opening at 200/1, Valiant Thor sits at 350/1.