Connections for Kentucky Derby favorite Essential Quality said Tuesday that they intend on skipping the Preakness Stakes and sending the Godolphin colt to the June 5 Belmont Stakes instead.

Essential Quality-Preakness pass
Kentucky Derby favorite Essential Quality won’t run the Preakness Stakes. He’s pointed toward the June 5 Belmont Stakes and, eventually, the Aug. 28 Travers at Saratoga. (Image: Churchill Downs/Coady Photography)

The announcement first came on Steve Byk’s At The Races With Steve Byk radio show on Sirius/XM. Trainer Brad Cox told Byk his prized 3-year-old won’t run the second jewel of the Triple Crown. Cox said the 1 ½-mile Belmont is likely next on the horizon.

Essential Quality’s ultimate destination this year is the Aug. 28 Grade 1 Travers Stakes at Saratoga. Jimmy Bell, the president of Godolphin USA, which owns Essential Quality, told Horse Racing Nation everything is now geared toward prepping Essential Quality for the Travers.

Bell did not respond to a text from OG News.

Essential Quality ran further than Medina Spirit

The 5/2 Derby favorite, Essential Quality finished fourth by a length in Saturday’s Run for the Roses. That was largely a byproduct of two factors: a collision with Rock Your World coming out of the gate and an extremely wide trip around the track. The Trackus chart showed Essential Quality covered 68 additional feet of track than did winner Medina Spirit.

“I think he was the best horse,” Cox told reporters after the race. “People can say what they want, but he was beaten by a length and ran 68 feet farther than the winner. And he had a little bit of trouble at the start. The winner ran huge. When you see a horse lay down those fractions and still keep going, you can’t take anything away from that horse. I think Essential was kind of compromised at the start and then was kind of in chase mode pretty much the whole way. He just never could get comfortable.”

Meanwhile, Cox told Byk he hasn’t decided on whether his other two 3-year-old prospects, Mandaloun and Caddo River, will run the Preakness. At 26/1, Mandaloun ran an outstanding Derby, pushing Medina Spirit all the way to the wire and losing by a half-length. Caddo River scratched the week of the Derby due to a fever.

King Fury out of Preakness as well

Should he run at Pimlico, Caddo River will be the pace-setter.

Elsewhere on the Preakness front, racing publicist Jennie Rees reported that King Fury will also miss the Preakness. This, after the colt suffered a relapse of the fever that kept him out of the Derby.

Trainer Kenny McPeek told Horse Racing Nation the Lexington Stakes winner is also pointed toward the Travers. That the Saratoga centerpiece event is on so many radars isn’t surprising. Run at the American Classic distance of 1 ¼ miles, the Travers is considered the best 3-year-old non-Triple Crown event of the year.

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