TDN Top Triple Crown Contenders

Essential Quality

1) ESSENTIAL QUALITY (c, TapitDelightful Quality, by Elusive Quality)
O/B-Godolphin (KY). T-Brad Cox. Lifetime Record: Ch. 2yo Colt & MGISW, 5-5-0-0, $2,265,144.
Last Start: 1st GII Toyota Blue Grass S., KEE, Apr. 3
Accomplishments: 'TDN Rising Star', 1st GI TVG Breeders' Cup Juvenile, KEE, Nov. 6, 1st GI Claiborne Breeders' Futurity, KEE, Oct. 3, 1st GIII Southwest S., OP, Feb. 27
Equineline PPs. KY Derby Points: 140

With all the prep stakes now in the books, it's safe to say the GII Toyota Blue Grass S. stands out as this year's only true slugfest between two A-list colts who asserted themselves on the front end and kept fighting right through to the finish. While earlier in the season you could have legitimately postulated that 'TDN Rising Star' Essential Quality enjoyed a couple of gift-trip wins without facing stern stretch battles during his five-for-five run, we now know this Tapit-sired Godolphin homebred has both a relentless, high-pressure cruising gear and enough extra torque in deep stretch to determinedly seal the deal. But given the arduous nature of that Keeneland effort–for both Essential Quality and Highly Motivated (Into Mischief)–it's also within reason to ask whether it was almost too taxing a race four weeks out from the Derby (and within the context of both colts only getting two pre-Derby starts at age three). However, should either one (or both) end up thriving off of such a demanding performance to springboard forward in terms of development and confidence, the rest of the division is in serious trouble. This is an aggressive, athletic gray who meshes well with rider Luis Saez to make his own breaks happen within races, and his overall body of work firmly entrenches him as the horse to beat (although maybe not to bet at underlaid odds) in Louisville.