Big Day For Brad Cox: Essential Quality Shows Up With Professional Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Victory

Though he entered Friday’s Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile undefeated in two career starts, Godolphin homebred Essential Quality was sent to post at 7-2 odds in the wake of divisional heavyweight Jackie’s Warrior (4-5 favorite). The tote board didn’t tell the tale in this year’s $2 million championship race, however, and the royal blue colors of the Godolphin operation hit the wire on top.

Trainer Brad Cox was jumping up and down after the 2-year-old son of Tapit hit the wire three-quarters of a length in front of 94-1 longshot Hot Rod Charlie. He’d just saddled the winner of the previous race, Aunt Pearl in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies, but had been less confident in the talented but inexperienced gray colt in the day’s final event.

Luis Saez crafted a late-running triumph from eighth in the early going that showed a new dimension for Essential Quality; last out, the colt won the G1 Breeders’ Futurity with a forwardly-placed trip. Making up ground with giant strides in the short stretch for 1 1/16 miles over the dirt at Keeneland, Essential Quality stopped the clock in 1:42.09.

Cox won his first Grade 1 race in April of 2018 with Monomoy Girl; two and a half years later, the trainer now has five Breeders’ Cup wins to his name.

“It was a tremendous effort by this horse,” said Cox. “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.”

It was the first career Breeders’ Cup win for Saez, whose agent is former Godolphin trainer Kiaran McLaughlin.

“I had a perfect trip, a beautiful trip,” said Saez. “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.” 

Though Jackie’s Warrior broke near the top of the field, Dreamer’s Disease rushed up from the outside to grab command headed into the clubhouse turn. When David Cohen pushed over to the rail with the frontrunner, Joel Rosario had to grab hold of an unhappy Jackie’s Warrior and try to wrangle him back to rate in fourth position.

Likeable and Classier boxed Jackie’s Warrior at the rail around the clubhouse turn, but Rosario was able to get the favorite outside into third mid-way down the backstretch.

Essential Quality was in eighth early on, concerning Cox until the early fractions flashed on the television screen: Dreamer’s Disease was flying early in splits of :22.58, :45.31, and 1:10.48. The trainer was able to relax a bit when he saw Saez start moving up through the pack approaching the far turn.

Jackie’s Warrior moved into second behind Dreamer’s Disease around the far turn, but 94-1 longshot Hot Rod Charlie was hot on his heels and challenged the favorite at the head of the lane.

Meanwhile, Saez and Essential Quality had tracked Hot Rod Charlie into the stretch and swung out to the center of the course to make his challenge. Hard-ridden to the wire, Essential Quality put away the longshot by three-quarters of a length. Hot Rod Charlie, the half-brother to 2019 Breeders’ Cup Sprint winner and champion Mitole, finished second. Keepmeinmind came flying late to nab the show Jackie’s Warrior, and Rombauer checked in fifth.

The remaining order of finish is as follows: Dreamer’s Disease, King Fury, Classier, Sittin On Go, Reinvestment Risk, Calibrate, Camp Hope, Likeable, and Next.

Essential Quality was bred in Kentucky by the Godolphin operation, and is the fourth foal out of the graded stakes-placed Elusive Quality mare Delightful Quality. The colt won on debut over six furlongs at Churchill Downs, then won the 1 1/16-mile Breeders’ Futurity by 3 1/4 lengths in his final prep for the Juvenile. His undefeated record and total earnings of $1,335,14 will likely make him the early favorite for next year’s Kentucky Derby.

Godolphin his never won the Run for the Roses, though they’ve won the Juvenile once before (in 2009 with Vale of York).

“I do feel the sky’s the limit with this horse,” Cox said.

“We certainly got a step closer today,” said Godolphin’s Jimmy Bell. “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.” 

Quotes from other Juvenile participants:

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.”

The post Big Day For Brad Cox: Essential Quality Shows Up With Professional Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Victory appeared first on Horse Racing News | Paulick Report.

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