Race 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th Ratings
BC Juvenile
Essential Quality Jackie’s Warrior Sittin On Go Keepmeinmind Reinvestment Risk Rombauer 5-7/9-6-3-13/1-11-2/4-14-10

(Essential Quality / Coady Photography)

When I first saw the date and time that Essential Quality was to make his first career start, I had a sneaking suspicion that this son of Tapit may be a good one. After all, it was the rescheduled day for the Kentucky Derby. After all, the connections knew that the racing world would be glued to the TV like Justify’s horseshoe before the Preakness Stakes. And, after all, I wrote that very day in my handicapping comments that this one had the look and the feel of a “coming out party.”

It was a party, alright.

Essential Quality won that day by an easy 4 lengths in a presence and style befitting a Derby Day-performance. In fact, he may  have another chance at one of those in the near future.

And, if that was not enough? He came right back to win the G1 Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity over this same Keeneland dirt track in just his second start. Won that one by an easy and impressive 31/4 lengths.

Now, trainer Brad Cox may be sitting on one of his best colts ever — and, perhaps, one equal to all the grand fillies that he has had a chance to saddle over the years.

Now, trainer Brad Cox will go into the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile with a potential superstar in the making.

Here’s our look at the race:

  1. Essential Quality (Tapit — Delightful Quality, by Elusive Quality): This undefeated 2YO colt is regally bred and the beautiful gray sheen is benefitting a king. He is a homebred for the powerful Godolphin Stables, which has been attempting and trying for years to have a prime Kentucky Derby contender. The principals have tried buying one. They have attempted breeding one. They have searched high and low for that preverbal needle in the haystack. Yet, they have always found to be waiting and wanting on Derby Day. Now, they may have one to fill that bill and make that case. On Friday, the connections hope to take the next step in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. And, there is no reason at all to believe that this one want stamp his passport to the biggest and best stages yet to come. He has speed that he flashed when stretching out to two turns for the first time in the Breeders’ Futurity. Controlling type speed that allows him to set his home spot in the race; dictate his own terms. And, he can wait and be patient, too. In his debut, he broke near the back of the back and when he began to make his move, he had to idle back down and wait for an opening. When it came? He went. These types don’t come along often. Just ask Godolphin — which has probably spent more time and money trying to get to this spot. But when they do? You cherish and relish. This one is that kind.
  2. Jackie’s Warrior (Maclean’s Music — Unicorn Girl, by A.P. Five Hundred): This February foal is a bit more modestly bred, but his credentials glean just as bright. Has raced four times so far. Has won four times so far. And, none of the finishes have been close to being close. Stretched out to win the G1 Champagne last time out when traveling a mile for the first time. Now, he will be asked to carry his abundant speed just a tad farther. This one will throw down the gauntlet. And, the fractions. Can the others corral? We shall see.
  3. Sittin On Go (Brody’s Cause — Set’n On Ready, by More Than Ready): This guy is owned by the Albaugh Family, another racing powerhouse that has been searching for that elusive Kentucky Derby win about as long as the Godolphin group. And, this one is by the young stallion Brody’s Cause — who just so happened to be a Kentucky Derby starter and is still owned in part by the Albaugh family. No better way to find that circle of roses than with a horse you owned and raced in the big event itself. Sittin On Go is yet another undefeated challenger in this race. He is 2-for-2 coming in, with a MSW win at Ellis Park and a victory in the G3 Iroquois Stakes on KY Derby Day this year. He won just a few minutes after Essential Quality showed off his essentials. This may be the best true and best closer in the group. Has come from off the pace in each of the first two wins. And, the dam of this one was a Stakes-winner, too and has produced 3 winners from the first 3 foals. Watch for this one to be moving late. And, perhaps, great.
  4. Keepmeinmind (Laoban — Inclination, by Victory Gallop): This one is still eligible for the MSW category, having run a couple of seconds in the first two starts of the career. But don’t be alarmed by that fact. Remember Good Magic? He won the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile as a maiden and went on to have a pretty good career for trainer Chad Brown. Keepmeinmind is another deep closer and may benefit if a rapid pace scenario materializes in the early stages. Ran behind Essential Quality in the Breeders’ Futurity. No match. But who is?
  5. Reinvestment Risk (Upstart — Ridingwiththedevil, by Candy Ride): From the barn of Chad Brown, and how do you dismiss any that depart the stall with this guy in tow? Won the debut race at Saratoga by nearly 8. Has since run twice behind Jackie’s Warrior. But this March foal may want to extra distance that the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile will offer. Bears watching.
  6. Rombauer (Twirling Candy — Cashmere, by Cowboy Cal): This April foal ships in from California after running a game second in the G1 American Pharoah Stakes at Santa Anita on Sept. 26 for highly talented and highly under-appreciated trainer Michael McCarthy. (The guy can train.) Broke the maiden on the grass at Del Mar and then had all kinds of traffic issues in the Del Mar Juvenile Turf. But the late close in the first dirt race was impressive. Don’t dismiss here. Will be some odds.

How Do We Play It:

We are all in. We play Essential Quality to win/place and then key him over/under the “all button.” We will also key him over (only) the next five horses listed. We have seen this son of Tapit. And, we like him.