Carrying the banner of HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum’s Godolphin, Brad Cox-trained Essential Quality remained perfect in three starts and laid claims to the American 2-year-old champion title with a spectacular winning performance in the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1).
Ridden to perfection by Luis Saez, the homebred son of Tapit sat comfortably–despite taking ample mud kickback–early in eighth while Dreamer’s Disease, Likeable, Jackie’s Warrior and well-regarded Classier motored ahead through early fractions of 22.58 for a quarter-mile (400m) and 45.31 for a half-mile (800m). On the second turn, heavy favorite Jackie’s Warrior launched his bid, but was tracked by 94/1 longshot Hot Rod Charlie, whose momentum defied his odds as the pair finished six furlongs (1200m) in 1:10.48. Meanwhile, Essential Quality swiftly carried his royal blue silks into contention, ranging up beside that pair at the top of the stretch and overpowering them in the final 100m en route to a 3/4-length victory. The final time was a swift 1:42.09, the sixth-fastest of 33 Juveniles contested at 1 1/16 miles (1700m).
“We certainly got a step closer today,” said Jimmy Bell, president of Godolphin USA. “We’ve experienced both ends of this; the high expectations and anticipations and disappointments with Maxfield last year. And now to come back like this. They (Maxfield and Essential Quality) followed basically the same path: race at Churchill, came back won the Breeders’ Futurity at Keeneland. This was a pretty amazing performance today. To do what he did–to come from off the pace (and) run them down like that in his third lifetime start–it takes a ton of talent to do that. I’m sure he’s still learning. It’s so exciting for everybody. This is what you live and dream of.”
The two-time G1-winning gray colt is out of the Elusive Quality mare Delightfully Quality, who is a half-sister to 2005 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile FIllies winner Folklore. Based in Kentucky at Churchill Downs, Essential Quality earned $1,040,000 to increase his career bankroll to $1,335,144. He was one of two winners on ‘Future Stars Friday’ for Cox, who also landed the $1 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (G1) in smashing style with Aunt Pearl. Essential Quality also became the sixth Breeders’ Cup winner for his heralded sire.
“It was a tremendous effort by this horse,” Cox said. “Luis stayed after him the whole way. He overcame a lot today. He’s a nice colt. Distance is no issue with him. He’ll run all day. I’m very proud of him and I’m so happy for the Godolphin organization. What a horse. At the three eighths pole, Luis stayed after him pretty good and I was hoping he wouldn’t flatten out, but he stayed on. He’s a tremendous horse (and) has an amazing amount of stamina. We’re going to enjoy this one and obviously (the Kentucky Derby) will be our goal moving forward.”
Multiple Dubai World Cup Carnival-winning trainer Doug O’Neill finished second with the aforementioned Hot Rod Charlie, 1 1/4 lengths ahead of Keepmeinmind, who was another 1 1/4 lengths ahead of dethroned divisional leader Jackie’s Warrior. O’Neill was elated with the outcome, as his well-bred charge had a mere maiden victory last out to his credit.
“He got such a wonderful trip from Tyler (Gaffalione)–what a ride,” O’Neill said. “That first turn was just masterful; saved all the ground. He’s a half to Mitole, who won the Breeders’ Cup (Sprint), so we knew the class was in him. He’s built like a two-turn horse. Last time out we put blinkers on him and went two turns (at Santa Anita) and he answered a lot of questions. To say we thought that would happen would be a lie, so it’s pretty special.”
Astern Jackie’s Warrior, Rombauer, Dreamer’s Disease, King Fury, Classier, Sittin On Go, Reinvestment Risk, Calibrate, Camp Hope, Likeable and Next completed the order of finish.
Press Release/Photo- Tamarkuz Media