BC Juvenile Champion Essential Quality Runs Them Down In Southwest Stakes, Remains Unbeaten

February 27, 2021

HOT SPRINGS, AR (Saturday, Feb. 27, 2021) – Reigning Two-Year-Old Champion Essential Quality capped a huge day for owner Godolphin, LLC with an impressive victory in Saturday’s $750,000 Southwest Stakes (G3), his 3-year-old debut. Earlier on the card, Godolphin’s Mystic Guide won the $600,000 Razorback Handicap (G3).

Breaking from the rail under regular rider Luis Saez, 4-5 favorite Essential Quality settled behind the speed as Jackie’s Warrior, the 6-5 second choice, set the pace of :23 2/5 and :48 for the first half-mile. The winner patiently moved to the outside of horses, began advancing down the backstretch before making his move entering the turn for home and drawing well clear through the stretch to win by 4 ¼ lengths. Spielberg, who had shipped in from California, overcame a poor start to get second.

“I’m so excited,” Saez said. “I’m very happy to be riding this horse. We were waiting a long time. What a talented horse. We knew the speed was to our outside. The plan was to try to follow him (Jackie’s Warrior) the whole way. Everything came together. He broke pretty well and at the 5/8th pole he took the bridle and was really pulling me, but I was waiting, just trying to wait with him. We came to the stretch just so easy. He switched leads and just took off. What a nice horse. He finished very strong and I still had a lot of horse.”

Jackie’s Warrior held on for third followed by Woodhouse, Last Samurai, Santa Cruiser, and Saffa’s Day.

Essential Quality, the 2020 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) winner, earned 10 points towards eligibility in the Kentucky Derby (G1) with the win to increase his total to 40 points. He is currently ranked third among the top 20 horses. Spielberg earned four points and currently sits seventh on the list with 17 points. Jackie’s Warrior is ranked eighth with 14 points after picking up two points in the Southwest. Woodhouse earned one point for fourth.

Essential Quality, a homebred by Tapit, remains undefeated in four starts and has now earned $1,785,144. He returned $3.80, $2.60 and $2.10.

Live racing resumes at 1 p.m. Sunday with a 10-race card highlighted by three stakes, including the $250,000 Bayakoa Stakes (G3) where two-time champion Monomoy Girl will make her seasonal debut.

Southwest Stakes Quotes:

Winning trainer Brad Cox, Essential Quality: “Luis put him in a good position. I was little nervous when I saw the :48, but look our horse ranged up at the half-mile pole in a nice comfortable way. He showed up and ran his race. It was somewhat of a relief to get this race over with. The delay of the race, the track condition, just a lot of obstacles to overcome. Good horses do overcome, but it doesn’t mean the trainer doesn’t worry. We just want to wrap him in bubble wrap and get to the next race.”

Winning jockey Luis Saez, Essential Quality: “I’m so excited. I’m very happy to be riding this horse. We were waiting a long time. What a talented horse. We knew the speed was to our outside. The plan was to try to follow him (Jackie’s Warrior) the whole way. Everything came together. He broke pretty well and at the 5/8th pole he took the bridle and was really pulling me, but I was waiting, just trying to wait with him. We came to the stretch just so easy. He switched leads and just took off. What a nice horse. He finished very strong and I still had a lot of horse.”

Trainer Bob Baffert, second with Spielberg: “After the start, Martin didn’t panic. He stayed back there and rode his race. He was just moving a little (in the gate). But, you have to give credit to the winner. He’s a good horse. ’m proud of the way (Spielberg) ran. He showed up. I’m very happy. Other than the gate, everything went well. He shipped well and he ran well.”

Jockey Martin Garcia, second on Spielberg: “He missed the break I put him in the race and I on the outside, I just followed the winner every step. When I asked him, he went, but the winner was already being asked. I think my horse will be better at 1 1/8 miles.”

Oaklawn Park Press Release/ Photo Credit- Coady Photography- Twitter

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