Kentucky Derby 2021 Profile: Brooklyn Strong

In the days leading up to the 147th running of the $3 million Kentucky Derby (G1), is profiling all the contenders. The 1 ¼-mile Run for the Roses at Churchill Downs is May 1 and is the first leg of the Triple Crown. All profiles will be updated with post positions, odds, and jockeys following the draw on Tuesday, April 27.

Kentucky Derby 2021: Horse Profile

By Ed McNamara

He won two New York-bred stakes before pulling an upset Dec. 5 on a sloppy track in Aqueduct’s 1 1/8-mile Remsen Stakes. Finishing third, nine lengths behind, was Known Agenda. They’ve gone opposite ways since then. Known Agenda won the Florida Derby and is considered a serious Derby contender. Brooklyn Strong has run once and showed nothing, plodding to a fifth-place finish in a slow Wood Memorial.

Nevertheless, when defections opened a spot in the Derby field, owner Mark Schwartz and trainer Danny Velazquez decided to take a shot. Why not? Talk about playing with house money. Schwartz, a retired insurance executive, bought the New York-bred gelding for $5,000, $220,000 less than he’s earned.

It will be the first Derby for Schwartz and Velazquez, neither of whom had won a graded stakes until the Remsen. Just being there will be a thrill, even though Brooklyn Strong realistically has no chance coming off a bad race in his only start this year.

Kentucky Derby 2021: Horse Stats

Post position: TBD

Odds: TBD

Trainer: Danny Velazquez

Jockey: Umberto Rispoli

Owner: Mark Schwartz

Career record: 5-3-0-1

Career earnings: $225,000

Derby qualifying points: 10 (20th)

Best Equibase speed figure: 99

Pedigree: Wicked Strong-Riviera Chic, by Medaglia d’Oro

Color: Bay

Running style: Closer

Notes: Schwartz’s sons, Jonathan and Bryan, wanted to name the gelding after the New York Rangers’ Artemi Panarin, whose nickname is “Breadman.” But Breadman was taken, so Mark Schwartz, born and raised in Brooklyn, chose Brooklyn Strong … “The first track I ever went to was Aqueduct,” he said. “I went with my dad when I was seven years old, and I just loved it. Sixty years later, and here we are.” … Umberto Rispoli, who lost the mount on highly regarded Rock Your World to Joel Rosario, will ride Brooklyn Strong. Rispoli, a native of Italy, never has been in the Derby … According to Equibase, Velazquez has compiled 188 wins in a career that began in 2009. He’s 14-for-50 this year, an outstanding 28% win rate. He’s based at Parx, outside Philadelphia.