Essential Quality and Maxfield, two of the biggest North American routing names of the last two-plus seasons, are both retiring to the breeding shed after their next races.

Essential Quality-Retirement
Essential Quality’s August win in the Travers gave him his fourth Grade 1 victory and eighth overall. He and Maxfield will begin their stallion careers together after their final races. (Image: Adam Coglianese-NYRA/AP)

Darley America, Godolphin’s North American affiliate, announced the pair will join the breeding and racing giant’s Jonabell, Kentucky, farm for the 2022 breeding season. For Essential Quality, the paddock leader for Champion 3-Year-Old, his finale is next week’s Breeders’ Cup Classic at Del Mar. For 4-year-old Maxfield, his final race is the Grade 1 Clark Handicap at Churchill Downs on Nov. 26.

Both horses will have their fees set after their retirements from racing.

“To have both Essential Quality and Maxfield coming to Jonabell is as exciting as it gets,” Darley Sales Manager Darren Fox said in a statement. “and to have accomplished what they did as homebreds in the colors of Godolphin makes it even that much more meaningful. They consistently performed at the highest level, and if you add in their outstanding pedigrees and conformation, we feel very confident that their legacy will continue to grow through their future offspring.”

Essential Quality owns four Grade 1 wins

Essential Quality’s pedigree lives up to his name. He’s the son of Tapit out of a Grade 3-placed half-sister to Champion Juvenile Filly and Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Filly winner Folklore. When he captured the Belmont Stakes in June, Essential Quality became Tapit’s record fourth offspring to win the third jewel of the Triple Crown.

The Champion 2-Year-Old of 2020, Essential Quality is 8-for-9, his only blemish being his fourth by a length in the Kentucky Derby. Four of his eight wins were Grade 1s, including the Breeders’ Futurity and Breeders’ Cup Juvenile as a 2-year-old, and the Belmont and Travers as a sophomore. His engaging Belmont Stakes victory over Hot Rod Charlie came with a 109 Beyer Speed Figure and made him the first Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner to capture the Belmont.

When Essential Quality won the Travers, he joined Street Sense as only the second horse in the last 30 years to claim Champion 2-Year-Old honors and Saratoga’s “midsummer derby.”

Street Sense common to Essential Quality, Maxfield

Speaking of Street Sense, he’s Maxfield’s father. That means the 2007 Kentucky Derby winner and Preakness runner-up fathered a colt out of the Bernardini mare Velvety who hasn’t missed the board in 10 career starts. He won the Breeders’ Futurity the year before Essential Quality for his lone Grade 1 score to date.

Maxfield owns two seconds and a third in his other Grade 1 outings, including runner-up finishes in the Whitney (to Knicks Go) and Woodward (to Art Collector). He finished third in March’s Santa Anita Handicap to Idol and Express Train. Maxfield’s two other noteworthy victories came in this year’s Stephen Foster and Alysheba, both Grade 2s at Churchill Downs. He’s 7-2-1 going into the Clark.

“In addition to the excitement of two new stallions, we are hearing from breeders a great deal of optimism, especially with the strong sales results this year,” Fox said. “All that said, we are still maintaining moderation when setting our fees with only one of our top-tier stallions returning from last year seeing an uptick in price at this time.”

Darley cuts fees for even its No. 1 stallion

That stallion is Street Sense, who enjoys a bump back up to his 2020 fee of $75,000. Darley lowered his fee to $60,000 for 2021.

Darley’s top stallion, Medaglia D’Oro, will stand for $100,000. That’s a $50,000 cut from his 2021 fee. His progeny own more than 80 group/graded winners worldwide, including Hong Kong Horse of the Year Golden Sixty.

Darley also reduced the fee of last season’s leading first-crop sire, Nyquist. The 2015 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner and 2016 Kentucky Derby champion will stand for $55,000. That’s a cut from the $75,000 breeders paid in 2021, but still greater than the $40,000 bargain Nyquist was in 2020.