Essential Quality adds Belmont Stakes to memorable haul for Godolphin

Essential Quality put the seal on a day to remember for Godolphin with victory in the Belmont Stakes in New York on Saturday night.

Just hours after the Charlie Appleby-trained Adayar stormed to glory in the Cazoo Derby at Epsom, Brad Cox’s Essential Quality produced a high-class performance of his own to land the final leg of the Triple Crown.

Having lost his unbeaten record when a close fourth in the Kentucky Derby, the grey Tapit colt was given a fine ride by Luis Saez who was alive to the brisk pace set by Hot Rod Charlie and Rock Your World, wary of not leaving his mount too much to do.

Moving up on the outside into second off the final bend as Rock Your World faded, a tremendous battle ensued with the gallant Hot Rod Charlie, with Essential Quality seeing out the mile and a half well to assert close home.

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Cox – winning his first Triple Crown race – told NBC Sports: “That was a long way around there, a mile and a half. I thought it (pace set by Hot Rod Charlie) would benefit our horse – obviously Hot Rod Charlie ran a tremendous race, I thought with the hot pace we were in a good spot where they would come back.

“He ran (Hot Rod Charlie) a tremendous race on the lead and we did a fantastic job of getting in position turning for home – he was really able to show his stamina late.

“It looked like the horse on the inside (Hot Rod Charlie) still had running left (turning for home), so I knew it was going to be a battle down the lane.”

He added: “I want to thank Sheikh Mohammed, he’s been supporting us the last two years and this (Godolphin) is a tremendous organisation, world class. We wouldn’t be here without this horse and his support, so I really thank him.”

Saez said: “I was so confident in the Kentucky Derby we were going to win that race, we had a little unlucky start and got bumped breaking. So today the main thing was try to break clean and the rest I know he’s going to do.”

Appleby even managed to make his mark at Belmont, as earlier on the card his Althiqa came from way off the pace under Mike Smith to run down stablemate Summer Romance in the Longines Just A Game Stakes.

Appleby told “We are delighted with both Althiqa and Summer Romance and it is great to get a Grade One victory with a homebred filly. Althiqa is as tough as old boots and deserved to get her head in front at this level, while Summer Romance lost nothing in defeat.

“They had both won Grade Two races at the Dubai World Cup Carnival, so it’s nice to see the form get franked so strongly. We might potentially keep them out in the USA for the time being and have a look at the Grade One Diana Stakes at Saratoga next month.”

Essential Quality proves all class for Godolphin in Breeders’ Cup Juvenile

Essential Quality maintained his unbeaten record to spark Kentucky Derby dreams for Godolphin with victory in the TVG Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at Keeneland.

Much of the pre-race discussion focussed on the Steve Asmussen-trained Jackie’s Warrior, who had won each of his previous four starts and was all the rage to cement his place as winter favourite for next year’s ‘Run for the Roses’.

Joel Rosario was forced to take a lead behind the red-hot pace on Jackie’s Warrior – who has looked so brilliant from the front – but once he did hit strike for home it was for just a matter of strides before huge outsider Hot Rod Charlie took over and threatened to cause a major shock.

Luis Saez looks to the skies after claiming Breeders' Cup Juvenile glory with Essential Quality
Luis Saez looks to the skies after claiming Breeders’ Cup Juvenile glory with Essential Quality (Mark Humphrey/AP)

However, Essential Quality came from further back under Luis Saez and ultimately won with authority – completing a big double for trainer Brad Cox following the success of Aunt Pearl in the preceding Juvenile Fillies Turf.

Hot Rod Charlie was second ahead of Keepmeinmind in third, with Jackie’s Warrior only fourth.

Cox – recording his fifth Breeders’ Cup winner – said: “It was a tremendous effort from Luis, who stayed at him the whole way.

“He has an amazing amount of stamina and is a spectacular horse for the Godolphin operation.

“I was hoping he wouldn’t flatten out, but that never looked like happening and moving forward we will point him at the Kentucky Derby.”

It was a first Breeders’ Cup victory for Saez, who said: “Today he was very focussed and really responded when I got at him. He ran right by them.”

Asmussen felt the strong early pace contributed to Jackie’s Warrior’s downfall.

He said: “It (the pace) was too much too soon.

“He’d accomplished a lot coming here and obviously we planned on winning and ended up coming fourth.

“Pace makes the race and it did not set up well for us today.”