Essential Quality rebounds with determined Belmont Stakes triumph
The Brad Cox trainee was favored at 13-10 to win the Triple Crown’s final jewel after finishing fourth with a troubled start and a wide trip in the Kentucky Derby (G1). Another wide journey unfolded at Belmont Park, where Essential Quality raced outside of rivals on both turns while Kentucky Derby third-place finisher Hot Rod Charlie carved out ambitious fractions of :22.78, :46.49, and 1:12.07.
But as the pace slowed down on the backstretch, Essential Quality and jockey Luis Saez took advantage to edge closer. Despite having to circle up on the far outside, the favorite confronted Hot Rod Charlie at the top of the stretch and gradually edged away to prevail by 1 1/2 lengths in 2:27.11, the 11th-fastest running of the Belmont over 1 1/2 miles.
Preakness S. (G1) winner Rombauer rallied mildly to finish third, more than 10 lengths behind the top pair, followed by Known Agenda, Bourbonic, Rock Your World, Overtook, and France Go de Ina.
The Belmont finish reprised the outcome of the 2020 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) at Keeneland, where Essential Quality and Hot Rod Charlie ran one-two. In the process, Essential Quality became the first-ever horse to complete the Juvenile/Belmont double.
A Godolphin homebred, Essential Quality is the fourth son of Tapit to win the Belmont, following Tonalist (2014), Creator (2016), and Tapwrit (2017). Essential Quality was produced by the Elusive Quality mare Delightful Quality and now boasts a 6-for-7 resume with earnings of $3,215,144.
Having previously posted victories in the Blue Grass S. (G2) and Southwest S. (G3) this season, Essential Quality is well-positioned to bid for champion three-year-old male honors at the Eclipse Awards. Winning the title would make Essential Quality the first colt to win championship titles at age two and three since Triple Crown winner American Pharoah in 2014-15.
For bettors, Essential Quality paid $4.60 to win, $3.00 to place, and $2.60 to show. Hot Rod Charlie returned $4.10 to place and $2.90 to show, while Rombauer paid $3.50 to show.
The rest of the betting payoffs are as follows:
$1 Double, 4/2, $5.00
$1 Exacta, 2/4, $7.50
50-cent Trifecta, 2/4/3, $10.85
10-cent Superfecta, 2/4/3/6, $6.07
$1 Pick 3, 3/4/2, $59.00
50-cent Pick 4, 8/3/4/2, $269.25
50-cent Pick 5, 1-3/8/3/4/2, $660.50
$1 Pick 6, 2/1-3/8/3/4/2 (5 of 6), $158.75
$1 Pick 6, 2/1-3/8/3/4/2 (6 of 6), $19,528.00