(Essential Quality / Coady Photography)
From the Breeders’ Cup Media Team:
Godolphin’s homebred Essential Quality ($9.40) rallied from off the pace to collar longshot Hot Rod Charlie in deep stretch to post a three-quarters of a length victory in the 37th running of the $2 million TVG Breeders’ Cup Juvenile presented by Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance (G1) Friday afternoon at Keeneland.
Trained by Brad Cox and ridden by Luis Saez, Essential Quality covered the 1 1/16 miles on a fast main track in 1:42.09. The victory was the second of the afternoon for Cox, who had won the previous race in the Juvenile Fillies Turf with Aunt Pearl (IRE), and fifth overall. It is the first Breeders’ Cup victory for Saez.
Longshot Dreamer’s Disease set the pace with Essential Quality racing in mid-pack. Turning for home into the short stretch, heavily favored Jackie’s Warrior pushed past Dreamer’s Disease but was quickly joined by Hot Rod Charlie.
At that juncture, Saez had wheeled Essential Quality to the outside for clear running to eventually overhaul Hot Rod Charlie who saved second by 1 ¼ lengths over Keepmeinmind who held a similar advantage over Jackie’s Warrior.
Essential Quality, who made his racing debut on Kentucky Derby Day (Sept. 5), is a 2-year-old Kentucky-bred son of Tapit out of the Elusive Quality mare Delightful Quality.
Now three-for-three including a victory in the Breeders’ Futurity here five weeks ago, Essential Quality has bankrolled $1,395,144 that includes Friday’s check of $1,100,000.
Winning trainer Brad Cox (Essential Quality) – “It was a tremendous effort by this horse. Luis (Saez) stayed after him the whole way. He overcame a lot today. He’s a nice colt. Distance is no issue with him. He’ll run all day. I’m very proud of him and I’m so happy for the Godolphin organization. What a horse. At the three-eighths pole, Luis stayed after him pretty good and I was hoping he wouldn’t flatten out. But he stayed on. He’s a tremendous horse, has an amazing amount of stamina. We’re going to enjoy this one and obviously (the Derby) will be our goal moving forward.”
Jimmy Bell, President Godolphin USA (owner Essential Quality) – “We certainly got a step closer today. We’ve experienced both ends of this, the high expectations and anticipations and disappointments with Maxfield last year. And now to come back like this. They (Maxfield and Essential Quality) followed basically followed the same path – race at Churchill, came back won the Breeders’ Futurity at Keeneland. This was a pretty amazing performance today. To do what he did to come from off the pace, to run them down like that in his third lifetime start, it takes a ton of talent to do that. I’m sure he’s still learning. It’s so exciting for everybody this is what you live and dream of.”
Winning jockey Luis Saez (Essential Quality) – “I had a perfect trip, a beautiful trip. My horse broke so well. He was in the right spot. I knew there was going to be a lot of speed so we were in the right spot. At the three-eighths he gave me that kick so I knew we had a chance to win the race. He can run all day. He’s a nice horse.”
Second-place trainer Doug O’Neill (Hot Rod Charlie) – “He got such a wonderful trip from Tyler (Gaffalione). What a ride. That first turn was just masterful; saved all the ground. He’s a half to Mitole, who won the Breeders’ Cup (Sprint), so we knew the class was in him. He’s built like a two-turn horse. Last time out we put blinkers on him and went two turns and he answered a lot of questions. To say we thought that would happen would be a lie, so it’s pretty special.”
Second-place jockey Tyler Gaffalione (Hot Rod Charlie) – “I had a perfect trip. He broke alertly and I was able to let the speed go. I was able to save ground around the first turn. On the backside he was taking me there the whole way. Going into the second turn I knew I had a lot of horse and the speed was stopping at that point and I don’t want to get to the lead too early. I knew they were going to run at us late. I just didn’t have enough to hold off the winner.”
Third and Sixth-place trainer Robertino Diodoro (Keepmeinmind and Dreamer’s Disease) – “Dreamer’s Disease definitely did the dirty work in setting rapid, fast fractions. I thought they both ran well. You always want to win but being 2-year-olds, both these guys have a bright future. I am happy with them.”
Third-place jockey Jose Ortiz (Keepmeinmind) – “The winner broke out a bit and bumped me, and then I had the seven right outside of me – he’s a very fast horse and broke well. I got pinched a little bit early on, which was probably the best thing to happen because I could sit and relax into a fast pace. From the five-eighths pole I started making my run. He made a great move from the five-eighths pole to the wire, I thought I could win the race around the quarter pole.”
Fourth-place trainer Steve Asmussen (Jackie’s Warrior) – “It is obviously disappointing but the fractions were just too fast. He’s accomplished a lot coming into here. We planned on winning but ended up fourth. Pace makes the race and we ended up fourth.”
Fourth-place jockey Joel Rosario (Jackie’s Warrior) – “I broke good. It looked like there were were a couple of horses on the outside that wanted to go a little bit, so I held my spot and let them go. It looked like we were going at a good pace in front of me. I thought I was in a good spot. Too bad that those horses came and beat us. He’s a good horse. I was in a good spot and he kept running, but those on the outside came strong and beat us.”
Fifth-place trainer Michael McCarthy (Rombauer) – “(Javier Castellano) said there wasn’t a whole lot of early speed so he had to kind of ride him away from there and ride him up the backside. Once he got into a comfortable rhythm up the backside, he was able to start picking off some horses and when the running started, he was still in a steady rhythm. Coming through the lane, he started picking them off and he actually started picking it up. The little horse ran well. I can’t be disappointed.”
Sixth-place jockey David Cohen (Dreamer’s Disease) – “I had to work a little hard for it, a little more than I wanted to. I had some outside pressure the whole way and never really got a chance to get a breather. I had a slight breather from probably the 4 ½ to the three-eighths pole and that just wasn’t enough for him to be able to dig in and scurry on home like he did the last time.”
Seventh- and 12th-place trainer Kenny McPeek (King Fury and Camp Hope) – “Camp Hope probably needs some more experience. We knew we were being ambitious with him. The other colt got stopped in the turn. Brian (Hernandez Jr.) said he had a ton of momentum, that he was coming up in there and had to check him and didn’t have anywhere to go. He had to kind of restart him again. He’ll be OK.”