Essential Quality, a beaten favourite in the Kentucky Derby in which the winner Medina Spirit raced into controversy, set the record straight by taking out the Belmont Stakes ahead of Hot Rod Charlie after outgunning the latter in what came down to a two-horse contest in the final straight.
Essential Quality did not contest The Preakness (the usual follow-up to the Kentucky Derby) with the Brad Cox stable instead switching focus to the Belmont Stakes and this time Essential Quality justified his 6-5 favourite price tag with a battling 1.25 length victory.
Essential Quality provided a first Belmont success for Cox who won the Eclipse Award for Outstanding Trainer last year.
It was also Cox’s first Triple Crown win… although he could well double that total without having to wait for another race as he has a win ‘pending’ should Medina Spirit be disqualified from the Kentucky Derby after returning a positive swab. Cox trained the Derby runner-up Mandaloun.
“In the Kentucky Derby we were so confident that we’re gonna win that race,” said Saez (as quoted on ESPN), who won a Triple Crown race for the first time. “He was ready for the race. But we have a little unlucky start. Today, the main thing was try to break clean and the rest I know he’s gonna do it.”
Just as was the case with Essential Quality, it was a case of some redemption for Saez, who ‘won’ his first Triple Crown aboard Maximum Security in the 2019 Derby only to have that victory snatched away from him through disqualification for causing interference.
Earlier in the day, across the ocean, Adayar had won the Derby at Epsom for the Godolphin juggernaut and Essential Quality’s Belmont victory completed a stunning, memorable double for the racing and breeding empire that will be hard to match.