Essential Quality Re-Takes Lead In Breeders’ Cup Classic Rankings

Godolphin’s Essential Quality moved back into first place by three votes over stablemate Knicks Go in the 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.

The 3-year-old Essential Quality, trained by Brad Cox, received 328 votes. A winner four times in five starts this year, including victories in the Belmont Stakes (G1) and the Runhappy Travers (G1), Essential Quality had been in first place for three consecutive weeks before being overtaken by Knicks Go last week. The 5-year-old Knicks Go, who is in second place with 325 votes, won his fourth race of the year in easy fashion on Saturday, taking the Lukas Classic (G3) at Churchill Downs by four lengths. Knicks Go earned a free berth in the Longines Breeders’ Cup Classic when he won the Whitney (G1) at Saratoga Race Course in August.

The 3-year-old Hot Rod Charlie remained in third place with 269 votes. Owned by Boat Racing, Gainesway Stable, Roadrunner Racing, and William Strauss, and trained by Doug O’Neill, Hot Rod Charlie won the Pennsylvania Derby (G1) in his most recent start.

Following his frontrunning victory in the “Win and You’re In” Awesome Again Stakes (G1) at Santa Anita Park, Zedan Racing Stables’ Medina Spirit has jumped from seventh place to fourth this week with 206 votes.

Godolphin’s 4-year-old Maxfield dropped one spot to fifth place with 180 votes. Trained by Brendan Walsh, Maxfield, who finished second in the Woodward Stakes (G1) at Belmont Park on Saturday, earned an automatic starting position in the Longines Breeders’ Cup Classic when he captured the Stephen Foster Stakes (G2) at Churchill Downs in June.

The big mover in this week’s Classic Rankings was Bruce Lunsford’s 4-year-old Art Collector, who leaped from 18th place into a sixth-place tie with George E. Hall and SportBLX Thoroughbreds Corp’s Max Player. Trained by Bill Mott, Art Collector won his third consecutive race when he captured Saturday’s Woodward wire-to-wire by 1 ½ lengths.

The 4-year-old Max Player, trained by Steve Asmussen, earned an automatic berth in the Longines Breeders’ Cup Classic when he won the Suburban Stakes (G2) at Belmont Park in July, and followed up that score with a victory in the “Win and You’re In” Jockey Club Gold Cup (G1) at Saratoga on Sept. 4. Art Collector and Max Player have 163 votes apiece.

St. George Stable’s 5-year-old mare Letruska, a three-time Grade 1 winner this year for trainer Fausto Gutierrez, improved from 10th place to eighth with 70 votes.

Prince A A Faisal’s 4-year-old Mishriff (IRE) dropped one position to ninth place with 61 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.

St. Elias Stable’s Dr Post and Hronis Racing’s Tripoli are tied in 10th place with 35 votes each. Trained by Todd Pletcher, the 4-year-old Dr Post, who has two Grade 3 wins this year, finished third in the Woodward Stakes. The John Sadler trained 4-year-old Tripoli, who secured a free berth in the Longines Breeders’ Cup Classic when he won the TVG Pacific Classic (G1) in August, dropped from sixth place to 10th following his fourth-place finish in the Awesome Again Stakes.

Longines Breeders’ Cup Classic Rankings – Oct. 5, 2021*

Rank Horse Votes First-Place Votes Previous Week
1 Essential Quality 328 14 2
2 Knicks Go 325 16 1
3 Hot Rod Charlie 269 1 3
4 Medina Spirit 206 1 7
5 Maxfield 180 1 4
6 Art Collector 163 1 18
6 Max Player 163 0 5
8 Letruska 70 0 10
9 Mishriff  (IRE) 61 2 8
10 Dr Post 35 0 13
10 Tripoli 35 0 6

*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 are determined by a panel of leading Thoroughbred racing media, horseplayers, and members of the Breeders’ Cup Racing Directors/Secretaries Panel. Rankings will be announced each week through Oct. 11. 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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