Tag: Essential Quality

Essential Quality (left) and Hot Rod Charlie separated themselves from their 3-year-old rivals at Saturday's Belmont Stakes. Both came out of the 1 1/2-mile race set for future summer contests. (Image: Al Bello/Getty)

Essential Quality, Hot Rod Charlie Ready For More After Belmont Stakes

Even after Hot Rod Charlie reeled off record early fractions, and even after Essential Quality caught and passed him in the stretch, both leading protagonists from Saturday’s Belmont Stakes came out of their 1 ½-mile “Test of the Champion” in fine form. “He looks amazing. It doesn’t look like he […]

Jockey Adam Kirby aboard 16/1 Adayar scored a resounding upset in Saturday's Epsom Derby. A game of musical jockeys put the 32-year-old Kirby on Adayar earlier in the week. (Image: PA Wire)

When the Music Stopped, Kirby and 16/1 Adayar Win Epsom Derby

Adam Kirby wasn’t supposed to be on Epsom Derby surprise winner Adayar. And Adayar wasn’t supposed to sniff the Epsom Derby winner’s circle. Not at 16/1, and not as Godolphin’s third-string colt. But in a replay of the Kentucky Derby here in the US, colts don’t realize they’re not supposed […]

Jockey Luis Saez won Saturday's Belmont Stakes for his first Triple Crown victory. He piloted 6/5 favorite Essential Quality to his third stakes win in 2021. (Image: Wendell Cruz/USA Today Sports)

Essential Quality Seizes His Moment, Wins 2021 Belmont Stakes

As the 153rd Belmont Stakes hit its stretch crescendo, Essential Quality would not be denied. At the end of this Triple Crown season, Essential Quality would not be denied his Triple Crown race victory. He would not be denied his place in history and trainer Brad Cox would not be […]

Hot Rod Charlie hit the board in his last five races: two wins, a second and two thirds. Four of those came in graded stakes races, making him a legitimate Belmont Stakes threat. (Image: Benoit Photo)

Back to Being a Real Test: Breaking Down the 2021 Belmont Stakes

The 153rd Belmont Stakes wraps up an unpredictable 2021 Triple Crown season with what should be the best race of the three for horseplayers. If 12/1 Medina Spirit winning the Kentucky Derby was a shock to the handicapper’s system, what was 11/1 Rombauer winning the Preakness Stakes? Two horses considered […]

Because he's a horseman at his core, Jim "Mattress Mack" McIngvale made sure to wager his entire $2.4 million on Kentucky Derby favorite Essential Quality at Churchill Downs. (Image: Kentucky HBPA/@KyHBPA)

‘Mattress Mack’ McIngvale Believes Where You Bet the Horses Matters

When Jim “Mattress Mack” McIngvale was looking for a site on which to drop a $2.4 million wager on Essential Quality to win the Kentucky Derby, he remembered what he was at heart. McIngvale has been called many things over the years. An entrepreneur. A furniture magnate. A media darling, […]

Essential Quality's Blue Grass Stakes wire victory over Highly Motivated was the Champion 2-Year-Old's fifth consecutive win. After finishing fourth in the Kentucky Derby, the colt seeks to rebound as the 2/1 morning-line favorite in the 153rd Belmont Stakes. (Image: Kentuckyderby.com)

Essential Quality Returns to Triple Crown Trail as Belmont Stakes Favorite

Essential Quality duplicated the favorite status he enjoyed for the Kentucky Derby five weeks ago, taking 2/1 morning-line favorite odds into Saturday’s 153rd Belmont Stakes at Belmont Park. Tuesday morning’s Belmont Stakes draw put the Brad Cox-trained, Tapit progeny in post 2. He’s one of four Grade 1 winners and […]

Essential Quality gives Eclipse Award-winning trainer Brad Cox a wonderful opportunity to win his first Triple Crown race. He's the 2/1 morning-line favorite for Saturday's Belmont Stakes. (Image: Charlie Riedel/AP Photo)

Could Essential Quality Close Triple Crown Hole in Cox’s Resume?

For Brad Cox, is Essential Quality the final piece of the Triple Crown race puzzle? First, there was Owendale’s third in the 2019 Preakness Stakes. Then, there was Mandaloun finishing second in the 2021 Kentucky Derby. Can Essential Quality give Cox his first American Classic victory in Saturday’s Belmont Stakes? […]

With no Charlatan in the gate, Knicks Go becomes a likely favorite for the Grade 1 Metropolitan Handicap on the June 5 Belmont Stakes undercard. (Image: Coady Photography)

Cox Calls a New Play for Knicks Go — The Met Mile

Even Brad Cox understands how the avoid Bob Baffert game is played, which explains why he moved his star older horse, Knicks Go, to the Grade 1 Metropolitan Handicap. That June 5 race is the first-among-equals Grade 1 on the Belmont Stakes undercard. Cox originally targeted Knicks Go for the […]

Midnight Bourbon could be one of only two horses to run all three 2021 Triple Crown races.(Image: AP Photo)

Belmont Stakes Field Remains in Flux as Connections Ponder Options

While the Belmont Stakes field remains an early work in progress, several trainers with possible sights on the final jewel of the Triple Crown have either indicated interest or put their horses through workouts with that June 5 race in mind. The Belmont Stakes field of possibles starts with Kentucky […]

Kentucky Derby favorite Essential Quality won't run the Preakness Stakes. He's pointed toward the June 5 Belmont Stakes and eventually the Aug. 18 Travers at Saratoga. (Image: Churchill Downs/Coady Photography)

Essential Quality, King Fury Passing On Preakness, Targeting Travers

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. The announcement first came on Steve Byk’s At The Races With Steve Byk radio show on Sirius/XM. Trainer Brad Cox told […]

Even as the field begins forming, Kentucky Derby runner-up Mandaloun remains a maybe for the May 15 Preakness Stakes. (Image: Churchill Downs/Coady Photography)

Preakness Plans Begin Taking Shape; Cox Remains on the Fence

As Brad Cox ponders his Preakness plans with Kentucky Derby runner-up Mandaloun and fourth-place finisher Essential Quality, the Preakness field is taking shape around him. Maryland Jockey Club stakes coordinator Trish Bowman put out a preliminary list of prospects for the May 15 second leg of the Triple Crown. That […]

Medina Spirit and John Velazquez illustrate their tenacity in deep stretch, holding off Mandaloun to capture the 147th Kentucky Derby. (Image: Churchill Downs/Coady Photography)

The 2021 Derby: 12/1 Medina Spirit wins Baffert His Record Seventh

The primary lesson coming out of the 2021 Kentucky Derby is as simple as it is frustrating for everyone not named Bob Baffert. Even when Baffert brings his third-string horse to Churchill Downs, he wins Derbies. That would be Medina Spirit, who gave Baffert his seventh Derby victory Saturday, passing […]

The Kentucky Derby is only Rock Your World's second start on dirt. He is the fastest horse in the field based on speed figures. (Image: Churchill Downs/Coady Photography)

Almost Back to Normalcy: Breaking Down the 2021 Kentucky Derby

Welcome to the 2021 Kentucky Derby. And welcome back to what a normal Kentucky Derby looks like. Almost. The crowds? Well, they’re back – about 40,000. That’s a quarter of what normally turns Churchill Downs into a sporting bacchanalia. But there’s people in the stands. We’ll take it. The horses? […]

Hot Rod Charlie owns the second-fastest Beyer Speed Figure of anyone in the Kentucky Derby field. His trainer, Doug O'Neill, owns two Kentucky Derby victories in the last nine years. (Image: Ernie Belmonte)

Hot Rod Charlie Roars to Life for Kentucky Derby Vet O’Neill

Doug O’Neill already has two of these Kentucky Derbies on the mantle, both with colts he planned on taking to Churchill Downs —  I’ll Have Another and Nyquist. But when Hot Rod Charlie came to his Santa Anita Park barn as a $110,000 yearling purchase, the trainer looked at his […]

Tuesday morning's draw for the 2021 Kentucky Derby from post 20 Bourbonic to post 1 Known Agenda. Those are two of trainer Todd Pletcher's four entries in Saturday's Run for the Roses. (Image: Churchill Downs)

Essential Quality Opens as 2/1 Favorite for 147th Kentucky Derby

As expected, Essential Quality checked in as the 2/1 morning-line favorite for the 147th Kentucky Derby. And Tuesday’s post-position Derby draw sends the undefeated colt and his favorite status into post 14 for Saturday’s 2021 Triple Crown opener. As he watched the posts fill up on Tuesday morning, this put […]

After a year's hiatus due to the pandemic, Wesley Ward returned to his native habitat: winning Keeneland training titles. With 20 victories, the conditioner won his seventh Keeneland Spring Meet title. (Image: Coady Photography)

Keeneland’s Spring Meet Hops Into the Books With Strong Handle

Despite selling limited tickets for its 15-day Spring Meet, Keeneland’s just-concluded meet brought a 7.55% handle increase from its 2019 numbers. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic scrubbing Keeneland’s 2020 Spring Meet, 2019 represents the last comparable year. Headlined by Essential Quality’s Blue Grass Stakes victory, Wesley Ward’s seventh training title […]

Super Stock reeled in a Kentucky Derby spot by reeling in Caddo River (2) and heavy favorite Concert Tour in the Arkansas Derby. (Image: Coady Photography)

Kentucky Derby Points Show the 20 Survivors of the Derby Trail

The Kentucky Derby Trail ended Saturday, which means it’s time to parse the Derby qualifying points ladder and see who’s in, who’s on the bubble, and who won’t be discussed as a Kentucky Derby starter. It took 40 points to make the top 20, the usual target number connections shoot […]

By the time Essential Quality finds the stretch, few of his pursuers are this close. He enters Saturday's Grade 2 Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland as the 3/5 morning-line favorite. (Image: Coady Photography)

This Year’s Blue Grass Stakes Come Loaded With Essential Quality

The biggest problem horseplayers have with the Grade 2 Blue Grass Stakes is not figuring out who will win. That essential question will likely be answered by 3/5 favorite Essential Quality. No. The biggest issue here is figuring out how to profit off a race where one horse is so […]

Rombauer's furious El Calmino Real Derby stretch drive brought him his first stakes title by a nose over Javanica. But the Southern California colt is in deeper Derby prep waters in this weekend's Grade 2 Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland. (Image: Golden Gate Fields)

For Rombauer, the Grass is Greener in Baffert-Free Blue Grass

In his past life, John Fradkin, the owner of Kentucky Derby Trail runner Rombauer, was a successful institutional bond salesman for Citigroup. This means he understands the risk/reward dynamic as well as anyone. This, in turn, explains why Fradkin took the long way home for Rombauer. Instead of running him […]