Essential Quality Finishes No. 1 In Breeders’ Cup Classic Rankings

Benefiting from Grade 1 victories in the Belmont Stakes and the Runhappy Travers Stakes, Godolphin’s 3-year-old Essential Quality has finished No. 1 in the final voting of the 2021 Longines Breeders’ Cup Classic Rankings, a weekly poll of the top 10 horses in contention for the $6 million Longines Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1). This year’s Longines Breeders’ Cup Classic will be run at Del Mar racetrack in Del Mar, California, on Nov. 6 as the final race of the 38th Breeders’ Cup World Championships.

Trained by Brad Cox, Essential Quality earned 290 votes, and finished four votes ahead of stablemate Knicks Go, who had 286 votes in second place. Last year’s TVG Breeders’ Cup Juvenile presented by Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance (G1) winner and Champion 2-Year-old Male, Essential Quality has won five of six starts this year, with his only defeat being a fourth-place finish in the Kentucky Derby (G1). Korea Racing Authority’s 5-year-old Knicks Go had been in first place in the Longines Breeders’ Cup Classic Rankings until Essential Quality overtook him two weeks ago.

Also trained by Cox, Knicks Go has won four races in 2020, including the Pegasus World Cup Invitational (G1) at Gulfstream Park and the Whitney (G1) at Saratoga in August, in which he earned an automatic starting position into the Longines Breeders’ Cup Classic. Knicks Go won his final prep for the Classic on Oct. 2 when he registered a 4-length victory in the Lukas Classic (G3) at Churchill Downs. In addition to Essential Quality, two other 3-year-olds finished in the top four.

Roadrunner Racing, William Strauss, Boat Racing and Gainesway Stable’s Hot Rod Charlie finished in third place with 269 votes. Trained by Doug O’Neill, Hot Rod Charlie won the Pennsylvania Derby (G1)  on Sept. 25 in his most recent race.

Zedan Racing Stables’ Medina Spirit, who won Santa Anita’s Awesome Again (G1) on Oct. 2, accumulated 189 votes to finish in fourth place.

Godolphin’s 4-year-old Maxfield finished in fifth place with 168 votes. Trained by Brendan Walsh, Maxfield earned an automatic starting position in the Longines Breeders’ Cup Classic when he captured the Stephen Foster Stakes (G2) at Churchill Downs in June.

George E. Hall and SportBLX Thoroughbreds Corp’s Max Player, who won two Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series races in the Longines Classic Division this year, finished in sixth place with 150 votes. Trained by Steve Asmussen, Max Player was victorious in the Suburban Stakes (G2) at Belmont Park in July, and followed up that score with a triumph in The Jockey Club Gold Cup (G1) at Saratoga on Sept. 4.

Bruce Lunsford’s Art Collector finished in seventh place with 142 points for trainer Bill Mott. Art Collector was a frontrunning winner of the Woodward Stakes (G1) at Belmont Park on Oct. 2 in his final tune-up for the Classic.

Prince A A Faisal’s 4-year-old Mishriff (IRE) finished in eighth place with 67 votes. Trained by John and Thady Gosden, Mishriff gained an invitation to the Longines Breeders’ Cup Classic when he won the Juddmonte International Stakes (G1) at York Racecourse in England on Aug. 18.

The John Sadler-trained Tripoli finished in ninth place with 50 votes. Owned by Hronis Racing, Tripoli secured a free berth in the Longines Breeders’ Cup Classic when he won the TVG Pacific Classic (G1) at Del Mar in August.

St. Elias Stable’s Dr Post rounded out the top 10 with 38 votes. Trained by Todd Pletcher, the 4-year-old Dr Post finished third in the Woodward Stakes.

FINAL Longines Breeders’ Cup Classic Rankings – Oct. 12, 2021*

Rank Horse Votes First-Place Votes Previous Week
1 Essential Quality 290 14 1
2 Knicks Go 286 12 2
3 Hot Rod Charlie 234 1 3
4 Medina Spirit 189 1 4
5 Maxfield 168 1 5
6 Max Player 150 0 6
7 Art Collector 142 1 6
8 Mishriff (IRE) 67 2 9
9 Tripoli 50 0 10
10 Dr Post 38 0 10

*Note – The Longines Breeders’ Cup Classic Rankings have no bearing on qualification or selection into the Longines Breeders’ Cup Classic.

The 2021 Longines Breeders’ Cup Classic, which will be run at 1 ¼ miles on the main track, is limited to 14 starters. The race will be broadcast live on NBC.

The Longines Breeders’ Cup Classic Rankings were determined by a panel of leading Thoroughbred racing media, horseplayers, and members of the Breeders’ Cup Racing Directors/Secretaries Panel. A list of voting members can be found here.

In the Breeders’ Cup Classic Rankings, each voter rates horses on a 10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 system in descending order.

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