(Essential Quality / All Photos by Coady Photography)

From the Keeneland Media Team:

Brad Cox (winning trainer of Essential Quality)

“It’s a tremendous feeling. He had to dig in today. It was probably what he needed. It was good for him to get a good test today He did everything easy enough in his last race. I was proud of what he was able to overcome today. Big effort.”

“I was happy where we were (turning for home). I could tell (with) the horse on the inside (Highly Motivated), Javier (Castellano) had horse, and we really had to work to get by him. The horse on the inside (Highly Motivated) ran a huge race. Both of them really duked it out the whole way. It set up for both of them, and they both responded well. That was a good race four weeks out (before the Kentucky Derby-G1). Four weeks from today. Hopefully we’re ready.”

Luis Saez (winning rider)

“That other horse was fighting, and I thought we weren’t going to get him. But I always had faith in Essential Quality. He’s a nice horse No matter how fast or slow the pace, he always wants to be first at the wire.”

Javier Castellano (rider of runner-up Highly Motivated)

“He ran a huge race. I’m very satisfied the way he did it today. I got beat, finished second, but I’m so proud of my horse and the way he did it today. Easy fractions on the lead, he galloped along – that’s the first time he did two turns. We tested him a little bit to see how far he could go and he did it. He tried with one of the best horses in the country and I give all the credit to the winner. But I would never complain with my horse and the way he did it.”


Whit Beckman (assistant to Chad Brown, trainer of Highly Motivated)

“That was just a tremendous run he put in. He ran so well and you could tell he just did not want to get beat. When one is trying that hard and you could feel the disappointment. I wasn’t confident being on the front end in a big race like this. But Javier got there and my confidence was with Javi and his decisions.”


Florent Geroux (rider of third-place finisher Rombauer)


“I am very happy with his effort today. The two horses in front of him are very nice and we ran a very good effort.”