Essential Quality Kentucky Derby Favorite

Has Essential Quality Kentucky Derby favorite now? Brad Cox-trained Essential Quality was heavily favored heading into the $800,000 Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland, but he trailed for most of the race and picked up the win over Highly Motivated by a neck.

The victory kept Essential Quality undefeated in five career starts. Surely makes him one of the top two choices. If not the outright favorite, to win the Kentucky Derby.

“He had to dig in today,” trainer Brad Cox said. This shortly after Essential Quality passed under the wire a neck winner in the 1 1/8-mile Blue Grass. “It’s probably what he needed, though. I was proud of what he was able to overcome today.”

“No matter how fast or slow the pace. He always wants to be first at the wire,” said jockey Luis Saez, who was the winning rider on Mystic Guide for Godolphin the previous Saturday in the $12 million Dubai World Cup. “That other horse was fighting, and I thought we weren’t going to get him. But I always had faith in Essential Quality.”

2021 Essential Quality Kentucky Derby Favorite Pick

Essential Quality Kentucky Derby Favorite

Highly Motivated and Essential Quality basically turned the Blue Grass into their own match race. A sight to behold. Highly Motivated, with Javier Castellano riding for trainer Chad Brown, led through splits of 23.83 seconds, 48.21, and 1:12.08, and even passing the eighth pole, he still held a tenuous lead over Essential Quality, who was under a fierce drive by Saez just to his outside.

“It was good for him to get a test like this today,” said the Churchill-based Cox, who will attempt to become the first Louisville-born trainer to win the Derby. “Both of them really duked it out the whole way.”

With Essential Quality sitting on top of the Derby qualification leaderboard, Cox will send him to Churchill Downs on April 5 to continue preparations for the May 1 Kentucky Derby.

April 6, 2021 by : Posted in 2021 No Comments

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