Essential Quality Outslugs Keepmeinmind in Jim Dandy

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Essential Quality | Sarah Andrew

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Intangibles make good horses great horses.

Consigned to the widest trip of any of the five runners left for Saturday's GII Jim Dandy S. at Saratoga, Godolphin's 'TDN Rising Star' and reigning 2-year-old male Eclipse Award winner Essential Quality (Tapit) was under the pump fully a half-mile from home, but–as he has demonstrated on more than one occasion during a season that appears again to be on a championship trajectory–the gunmetal gray colt looked a rival straight in the eye, wagged his finger Dikembe Mutumbo-style and willed himself to the line a half-length to the good.

The vanquished on this occasion was Keepmeinmind (Laoban), who sat a much softer trip than the champion and was in receipt of four pounds, but was simply outgamed. Masqueparade (Upstart), who beat Keepmeinmind narrowly into third when they squared off in the GIII Ohio Derby late last month, rounded out the trifecta.

“The really good horses just show up and find a way to get things done and he has seemed to do that every start,” said Jimmy Bell, president of Godolphin USA, who also won last year's delayed race with 'Rising Star' Mystic Guide (Ghostzapper) and was winning the Jim Dandy for the third time overall. Alpha (Bernardini) won the 2012 renewal. “Consistency has been his hallmark and it was a battle down the stretch. That's the mark of a really good horse that when things aren't always their way, they find a way.”

The Jim Dandy field more or less raced in post position order into the clubhouse turn, with Dr Jack (Pioneerof the Nile) spearing through to lead from Masqueparade, with Weyburn (Pioneer of the Nile) three out. Keepmeinmind landed in fourth spot while proving a tough steer for Joel Rosario, while Luis Saez committed the 2-5 favorite to an overland trip, but in the clear and in touch through an opening quarter in :23.81.

Positions were largely unchanged after a half that was posted in a solid :47.41, but Dr Jack came under attack and had run his race passing the three-eighths. Weyburn was winding up three deep, while Essential Quality was charting his wide course and a better-settled Keepmeinmind and Rosario were looking for a ground-saving passage nearer the inside. Still busily ridden, Essential Quality joined the battle in earnest about four wide outside of Weyburn nearing the stretch, but when Masqueparade floated a bit wide, the rail was open for Keepmeinmind and the stage was set. The chalk hit the front while working his way down into the three path and carried a slender advantage into the final furlong. Keepmeinmind was in for the fight, however, and boxed on tenaciously at the fence, perhaps just nosing in front at the sixteenth pole as he attempted to emulate his late sire's upset victory in this event five years ago. But drawing on his heart and considerable will to win, Essential Quality counterpunched and proved fractionally best on the wire while covering 39 feet (about four lengths) more than the runner-up, according to Trakus data.

“When they straightened up, I thought, 'Wow we've been wide both turns,' and then we see a horse slip up the rail who looked like he had some run left,” said winning trainer Brad Cox. “It made for some anxious moments down the lane. Overall, he's a very determined horse. He has the heart of a champion. He's a good horse, he stays on.”

Essential Quality completed an unblemished three-race freshman campaign with a 3/4-length defeat of Hot Rod Charlie (Oxbow) in the GI Breeders' Cup Juvenile Nov. 6, with Keepmeinmind a longshot third, a little more than a length behind the runner-up. The homebred resumed with a wide-trip, 4 1/4-length success in Oaklawn's GIII Southwest S. Feb. 27, then showed battling qualities when decisioning a very game Highly Motivated (Into Mischief) in the GII Toyota Blue Grass S. Apr. 3. Third home on that occasion was Rombauer (Twirling Candy), next-out winner of the GI Preakness S. Drawn 14 of 19 as the 29-10 favorite in the GI Kentucky Derby May 1, Essential Quality sat a trip better than midfield and was wide into the lane, but hung late to finish fourth, beaten just a length by Medina Spirit (Protonico). Connections were content to skip Old Hilltop in favor of the GI Belmont S. June 5 and in another war of attrition, he joined pacesetting Hot Rod Charlie at the top of the lane and the two classy rivals threw down through the stretch at Big Sandy. Essential Quality was the last one standing, providing Tapit with his fourth Belmont winner in the last eight years.

The GI Runhappy Travers S. Aug. 28 is the next likely start for Essential Quality.

“As long as he comes out of it well, we'll probably work him seven to 14 days out, weather permitting on the main track,” said Cox. “Similar works to what he had leading up to this. He's going to get more out of this that he is working in the morning. I'm glad we were able to get this in him as a tightener for the Travers.”

Pedigree Notes:

Essential Quality is one of 146 stakes winners, 91 graded/group winners and 27 top-level scorers for Tapit, who was represented by his sixth G1/GISW as a broodmare sire when Lexitonian (Speightstown) upset the GI A.G. Vanderbilt H. Essential Quality is the fourth foal for his dam, a half-sister to champion Folklore (Tiznow), whose own dam Contrive (Storm Cat) was acquired by Godolphin for $3 million in foal to Pleasantly Perfect at Fasig-Tipton November in 2005. Essential Quality's female family has seen its value and importance skyrocket over the last year, as Rhodochrosite (Unbridled's Song), a winning daughter of Folklore, has gone on to produce Japanese Triple Crown winner Contrail (Jpn) (Deep Impact {Jpn}). Delightful Quality is the dam of Essential Quality's 2-year-old half-sister Famed (Uncle Mo), but did not produce a foal in the next two seasons and was most recently returned to Tapit.

Saturday, Saratoga
JIM DANDY S.-GII, $582,000, Saratoga, 7-31, 3yo, 1 1/8m, 1:49.92, ft.
1–ESSENTIAL QUALITY, 124, c, 3, by Tapit
               1st Dam: Delightful Quality (GSP, $253,900), by Elusive Quality
               2nd Dam: Contrive, by Storm Cat
               3rd Dam: Jeano, by Fappiano
'TDN Rising Star.' O/B-Godolphin, LLC (KY); T-Brad H. Cox; J-Luis Saez.
$330,000. Lifetime Record: Ch. 2yo colt, MGISW,
8-7-0-0, $3,545,144. Werk Nick Rating: A. Click for the
eNicks report & 5-cross pedigree.
2–Keepmeinmind, 120, c, 3, Laoban–Inclination, by Victory
Gallop. O-Cypress Creek Equine, Arnold Bennewith, &
Spendthrift Farm LLC; B-Southern Equine Stables, LLC (KY);
T-Robertino Diodoro. $120,000.
3–Masqueparade, 120, c, 3, Upstart–Cry War Eagle, by Any
Given Saturday. ($100,000 Wlg '18 KEENOV; $180,000 Ylg
'19 KEESEP). O-FTGGG Racing; B-Brereton C. Jones (KY);
T-Albert M. Stall, Jr. $72,000.
Margins: HF, 2 1/4, 4. Odds: 0.40, 9.10, 5.30.
Also Ran: Weyburn, Dr Jack. Scratched: Risk Taking.
Click for the Equibase.com chart, the TJCIS.com PPs, or the free Equineline.com catalogue-style pedigree. VIDEO, sponsored by TVG.

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