Essential Quality

Glut of Early Speed in The Classic? Not So Fast

The Week in Review We're inside the five-week mark to the Breeders' Cup, and the top five contenders for the GI Classic all won their final graded stakes prep starts over the last two weekends. This past Saturday, three of those horses wired 1 1/8-miles graded stakes and earned roughly equal Beyer Speed Figures of 107, 107 and 104. At first blush, those performances look similar on paper, and it's tempting to make the leap to say the Classic will be glutted with early gunners who could hook each other...

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Breeders' Cup Hopefuls Breeze in Kentucky

A quartet of horses headed towards engagements at the Breeders' Cup World Championships at Del Mar Nov. 6 were out for serious workouts Saturday morning at both major Kentucky venues. Champion Essential Quality (Tapit) worked five furlongs in the company of Ellis Park allowance winner Colonel Bowman (Curlin) just after the track opened for business shortly after 5:30 Saturday morning. The duo broke off at the half-mile pole, crossing the wire in :46.80 before completing the move around the clubhouse turn in :59.20. Essential Quality outgamed Midnight Bourbon (Tiznow) to...

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Cox Classic Contenders Breeze at Churchill

Brad Cox-trained divisional leaders and GI Breeders' Cup Classic-bound runners Knicks Go (Paynter) and 'TDN Rising Star' Essential Quality (Tapit) each breezed Saturday morning at Churchill Downs. The former, last seen running away with the GI Whitney S. at Saratoga last month, was clocked in 1:00.80 (17/61) for five panels. The Korea Racing Authority colorbearer is expected to go postward a heavy favorite in next Saturday's GIII Lukas Classic at Churchill Downs. Last year's champion juvenile and leading sophomore Essential Quality, meanwhile, went a half-mile in :50.60 (87/102). Most recently...

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Sept. 26 Insights

Sponsored by Alex Nichols Agency HALF-SISTER TO ESSENTIAL QUALITY DEBUTS AT CHURCHILL 8th-CD, $120K, Msw, 2yo, f, 6f, 4:22 p.m. Brad Cox and Godolphin unveils a half-sister to their champion colt Essential Quality (Tapit) Sunday in FAMED (Uncle Mo). A Eclipse winner at two, Essential Quality has captured a quartet of Grade I races, most recently taking the GI Runhappy Travers S. Aug. 28. Their GSP dam Delightful Quality (Elusive Quality) is a half-sister to champion juvenile filly and dual Grade I winner Folklore (Tiznow). This is also the family...

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Hot Rod Charlie, Medina Spirit Among Early PA Derby Noms

GSW Hot Rod Charlie (Oxbow) heads the early nominations for the Sept 25 GI Pennsylvania Derby. The nine-furlong marquee race for 3-year-olds highlights a stacked card which features eight stakes races, including five at the graded level. The Pennsylvania Derby was cancelled in 2020 due to the COVID pandemic. "We're still a few works away, but we're real optimistic about Charlie's next stop, the Pennsylvania Derby," said trainer Doug O'Neill. "The race looks to be coming up tough, which one would expect with a million dollars on the line." Winner...

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Taking Stock: A Weekend to Remember

Everything that top-class racing should be was on display over the last weekend. The six Grade l races at Saratoga on Saturday featured most of the leading horses in each division except older dirt males, and as a group they didn't disappoint, did they? Nor did their trainers. One race after another was dramatically decided at or close to the wire, and some of the runners-ups, including the Steve Asmussen-trained Midnight Bourbon (Tiznow) in the Gl Runhappy Travers S. and the Todd Pletcher-conditioned Life is Good (Into Mischief) in the...

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Essential Quality Fine After Travers Win

Godolphin's Essential Quality (Tapit) exited his win in Saturday's GI Runhappy Travers S. in fine shape, and, while his next start is up in the air, his ultimate target will be the Nov. 6 GI Breeders' Cup Classic, trainer Brad Cox confirmed Sunday. "He looked great this morning. He's in good shape," Cox said. "[Godolphin USA President] Jimmy Bell and I spoke about [his next start] this morning, there's no pressure to make a decision right now. We'll just let the dust settle and enjoy this victory for a little...

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The Week in Review: Numbers Don't Lie, But They Can Be Perplexing

If you like to sift through numbers, a few stand out from Saturday's GI Runhappy Travers S. card at Saratoga Race Course. How about six Grade I stakes, whose winners all earned triple-digit Beyer Speed Figures? They weren't big-figure blowouts either. Five of those ultra-competitive races were decided by a half-length or less at the wire. Nine winning favorites from 13 races also catches the eye. As does the four-win performance by jockey Joel Rosario. But the most mind-boggling numeric notation from the summer's biggest day of racing appeared in...

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Essential Quality Fights Past Midnight Bourbon in Runhappy Travers

Champion Essential Quality (Tapit) came into Saturday's GI Runhappy Travers S. as the heavy favorite with three other Grade I victories to his credit, in addition to his Eclipse Award. Midnight Bourbon (Tiznow), on the other hand, entered with a point to prove as he never had a chance to show his stuff last time in Monmouth's GI Haskell Invitational S. July 17, after clipping heels and almost going down in the stretch. Essential Quality got the better of his rival at Saratoga Saturday, but not before Midnight Bourbon gave...

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Champ Tops 'Quality' Travers Field

Eclipse winner Essential Quality (Tapit) headlines a strong field of seven in Saratoga's prestigious GI Runhappy Travers S. Saturday evening. Should he succeed he would be the second colt in as many as years to complete the GI Belmont S./Travers double and the first juvenile champion to take the Midsummer Derby since Street Sense won the 2007 renewal. Opening his sophomore account with wins in the GIII Southwest S. Feb. 27 and GII Toyota Bluegrass S. Apr. 3, the Godolphin homebred was fourth as the favorite in the GI Kentucky...

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This Side Up: Seeking the Essence of Travers Quality

In an age that takes such relish in discovering offense where none is intended, I suppose we will eventually have to stop referring to a "Graveyard of Champions". Never mind that most horsemen would perceive a fairly benign destiny in themselves being laid to rest in Saratoga, with the implicit likelihood of an exit--a Parting Glass, indeed--achieved by some excess of bliss or excitement. For the squeamish tastes of today, the metaphor is doubtless becoming a little too sanguinary. Be that as it may, there's no denying that Saratoga's long...

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The Special Bond Uniting Two Travers Colts

How very apt, that a Saratoga card also featuring a race named in her honor should culminate Saturday in a GI Runhappy Travers S. bearing a twin imprint of the legacy of Personal Ensign. Both Dynamic One (Union Rags) and Miles D (Curlin), one-two in the Curlin S. last month, trace their ancestry to the Hall of Fame mare: Dynamic One's mother is out of Personal Ensign's granddaughter Storm Flag Flying (Storm Cat); while Miles D's dam is Storm Flag Flying's unraced half-sister Sound the Trumpets (Bernardini). But if nobody...

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