(Essential Quality wins the G3 Southwest Stakes in 2021 Debut / Coady Photography)

From the beginning of his race career, Essential Quality has seemed to possess all of the “essential qualities” it takes to become a successful racehorse.

Pedigree? By Tapit? Seriously. Check.

Speed and turn of foot? Are you kidding me? Win in debut. Win every time since debut. Check. Check. Check. Check.

Stamina and strength to go two turns and a route of ground? Win in the G1 Breeders’ Futurity and the G1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. Check. Check.

Maturity and growth from 2YO Champ to 3YO Star? Win over the sloppy track in the 2021 debut & G3 Southwest Stakes is proof positive. Check.

In short, and in his short career so far?

Essential Quality is proving that — truly — he does have the essential qualities to be and become more than just a successful racehorse. He is proving — each and every time, so far — that he just may have all the essential qualities to become a superstar.

Although there is much to be done before he checks that box, the 3YO grey is fast becoming one of the most talked about talents to come along in years. And, if it is to be accomplished, it may come along at the same time of one of the best groups and crops of 3YOs in years, too.

This year’s prospective field for the Kentucky Derby is certainly shaping up to be one of the deepest and most talented collection of 3YOs in recent memory. There certainly appears to be plenty of contenders that will push each and all to be their best in order to beat the very best.

Only time will tell. But the time is coming, too. Quickly. Rapidly.

And, for now, all we can do is just wait and hope that the best will, in fact, become the best.

With all the essential qualities to rival some of the superstars of yesteryear.

Here’s hoping.


Here’s our look at the Top 20 contenders for this year’s Kentucky Derby. And, why.

RankingsHorseSireTrainerJockeyLast RaceNext RaceComments
1Essential QualityTapitBrad CoxLuis Saez1st in G3 Southwest StakesFeb. 21 — G3 Southwest StakesImpressive in 2021 Debut / Impressive Every Time
2Life Is GoodInto MischiefBob BaffertMike Smith1st in G3 Sham StakesMarch 6 — G2 San Felipe StakesTraining Great for Saturday’s Test
3Greatest HonourTapitShug McGaugheyJose Ortiz1st in G2 Fountain of YouthMarch 27 — G1 Florida DerbyCan Finish What He Starts
4MandalounInto MischiefBrad CoxFlorent Geroux1st in G2 Risen Star StakesMarch 20 — G2 Louisiana DerbyBlinkers Helped / Still, Must Improve
5Concert TourStreet SenseBob BaffertJoel Rosario1st in G2 San Vicente StakesMarch 13 — G2 Rebel StakesShips to Oaklawn Where Baffert Excels
6KeepmeinmindLoabanRoberto DiodoroDavid Cohen1st in G2 KY Jockey Club @ CDTBDWhen, Where? Clock Ticking
7Medina SpiritProtonicoBob BaffertAbel Cedillo1st in G3 Robert B. Lewis StakesMarch 6 — G2 San Felipe StakesHas Guts Will Travel
8Caddo RiverHard SpunBrad CoxFlorent Geroux1st in Smarty Jones StakesMarch 13 — G2 Rebel StakesTeam Cox is Team Loaded
9Hot Rod CharlieOxbowDoug O’NeillJoel Rosario3rd in G3 Robert B. Lewis StakesMarch 20 — G2 Louisiana Derby2 Good Efforts In a Row / Needs a Win
10ProxyTapitMichael StidhamJohn Velazquez2nd in G2 Risen Star StakesMarch 20 — G2 Louisiana DerbyCan Rally / Can He Finish?
11Drain the ClockMaclean’s MusicSaffie Joseph, Jr.Edgard Zayas2nd in G2 Fountain of YouthMarch 27 — G1 Florida DerbyStretched Out & Nearly Stuck the Landing / Next?
12Midnight BourbonTiznowSteve AsmussenJoe Talamo3rd in the G2 Risen Star StakesMarch 20 — G2 Louisiana DerbyLA Derby Is Loaded / Ready, Aim Time
13Freedom FighterViolenceBob BaffertDrayden Van Dyke2nd in G2 San Vicente StakesMarch 6 — G3 Gotham StakesShips To NY for Team Baffert / Must Bring “A” Game
14Risk TakingMedaglia d’OroChad BrownEric Cancel1st in G3 Withers StakesTBDNext Destination Will Be Interesting
15The Great OneNyquistDoug O’NeillAbel Cedillo1st in SA MSWMarch 6 — G2 San Felipe StakesCA-Bred Has Huge Test On Saturday
16RombauerTwirling CandyMichael McCarthyKyle Frey1st in El Camino Real DerbyTBDTrue Closer Improving at Right Time
17Candy Man RocketCandy RideBill MottJunior Alvarado1st in G3 Sam F. Davis StakesMarch 6 — Tampa Bay DerbyMust Fire Again To Keep Position
18Highly MotivatedInto MischiefChad BrownJavier Castellano1st in Nyquist StakesMarch 6 — G3 Gotham StakesBig Test in Gotham on Saturday
19Known AgendaCurlinTodd PletcherIrad Ortiz, Jr1st in GP Allowance on 2-26March 27 — G1 Florida DerbyTime to Play With Big Boys
20PrateInto MischiefBrad CoxFlorent Geroux1st in FG MSWTBDMissed Last Work? What’s Up?
20aCowanKantharosSteve AsmussenJoel Rosario2nd in Saudi DerbyMarch 27 — G2 UAE DerbyCloser Has To Find Next Gear