Essential Quality Profile

Name Essential Quality
Born Apr 09, 2018
Age 3 years

Essential Quality was the favourite heading into the 2021 Kentucky Derby, but ultimately fell short by finishing fourth behind winner Medina Spirit, Mandaloun and Hot Rod Charlie.

Essential Quality is a three-year-old colt who is owned by the highly-regarded Godolphin Stables. He is trained by Brad H. Cox and was considered the favourite heading into the 2021 Kentucky Derby following an unbeaten record in qualifying. However, he had a tough time getting started and failed to recover, finishing fourth behind Medina Spirit, Mandaloun and Hot Rod Charlie.

Despite this disappointment, Essential Quality still picked up $150,000 for his connections.

Sire: Tapit

Essential Quality is the son of Tapit, who became the leading sire in North America in 2014. Tapit won three of six total races and set an earnings record that year, which he then broke in 2015 and again in 2016. His stud fee in 2015 was $300,000, the highest in North America. Tapit's earlier crops include five Breeders’ Cup winners and three Belmont Stakes winners.

Tapit is a grey horse, inheriting the gene through his dam, Tap Your Heels. This means that any foal sired by him on a non-grey mare will be grey, which is the case for Essential Quality.

He was purchased for $625,000 by Verne Winchell as a yearling in 2002. Tapit is considered a well-balanced racehorse with an appearance that is representative of his Arabian ancestors.

Tapit won both of his races at age two, including a one-mile maiden special weight race at Delaware Park and the G3 Laurel Futurity Stakes on November 15, 2003. After suffering shin problems, he returned for his three-year-old season to finish sixth in the G1 Florida Derby on March 13, 2004. The bad finish was due to a lung infection, but he recovered strongly and went on to take the G1 Wood Memorial Stakes after moving up from last to first. Coming in as the 5/1 second favourite, he finished ninth in the 2004 Kentucky Derby.

Dam: Delightful Quality

Essential Quality is the second foal of Delightful Quality and the first winner produced by the dam. Delightful Quality is a daughter of Elusive Quality and half-sister to champion filly Folklore. The Delightful Quality family lineage traces back to La Troienne, one of the most famous and influential Thoroughbred broodmares in the 1900s. La Troienne produced 10 winners, including two Hall of Famers.

Elusive Quality, who is Essential Quality's damsire, was a record-setting sprinter. The leading sire in North America in 2004, Elusive Quality is responsible for names like Kentucky Derby winner Smarty Jones. He raced a total of 20 times with nine victories, including two stakes races. His victories came on both turf and dirt.

To close his career, Elusive Quality finished fourth in the Woodbine Mile and sixth in the Kelso Handicap as a five-year-old. His total earnings were $413,284.

Godolphin Stables

Essential Quality's owner, Godolphin Stables, is a thoroughbred racehorse ownership, training and breeding operation. Located in the English town of Newmarket, Godolphin is considered one of the top owners in the sport. They have produced many high-level racehorses and are regarded as one of the best racing establishments worldwide.

Godolphin Stables is owned and operated by Godolphin Racing, the largest flat racing operation in the UK. Built in 1903 by Frederick Stanley, the stables were originally called Stanley House Stables. Godolphin Racing acquired them in April 1988, renaming them under head trainer John Gosden. The name comes from Godolphin Arabian, one of the first Arabian horses to arrive in the UK.

Road to the Kentucky Derby

Essential Quality was the leading contender on the 2021 Road to the Kentucky Derby, a series of races leading up to the Kentucky Derby. The eligible races award qualifying points to the top four finishers, who fight for spots on the standings board. Higher point amounts are awarded in the prep races taking place in March and April.

Essential Quality was flirting with qualifying for the Kentucky Derby, sitting on 40 points following his success in the Southwest Stakes on February 27. He confirmed his place at Churchill Downs by winning the Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland on April 3, picking up 100 additional points.

Strong start for Essential Quality

Essential Quality kicked off his two-year-old season with his first start on September 5, 2020. He ran in a maiden special weight race at Churchill Downs over six furlongs. In that outing, the colt sat in the middle of the pack as Copa set a fast early pace. He was able to find a better position around the turn, but he got stuck in traffic going into the stretch. He moved to the outside before moving ahead to win by four lengths.

Next time out, Essential Quality moved up in class for the G1 Breeders' Futurity Stakes at Keeneland on October 3. The colt came in as the 2/1 favourite in a field of nine, which caused a lot of attention given his inexperience. After the early pace was set by Upstriker, Essential Quality took the lead in the final turn, eventually beating Keepmeinmind by three-and-a-quarter lengths.

With his Breeders' Futurity Stakes victory, Essential Quality received an automatic berth in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, which ran on November 6 at Keeneland. He went up against a field of 14, coming in as the 7/2 second favourite behind the undefeated and fellow Road to the Kentucky Derby contender Jackie’s Warrior. Jackie’s Warrior had many big wins under his belt, including the Saratoga Special Stakes, the Hopeful Stakes and the Champagne Stakes.

Essential Quality had a bad break, making contact with Keepmeinmind before settling into the middle of the pack. Dreamer’s Disease set the fast early pace with Jackie's Warrior following. Dreamer’s Disease took the lead turning into the stretch, followed by Hot Rod Charlie, who also held the lead for a time. In the final turn, Essential Quality made a sweeping move before closing strongly to win by three-quarters of a length over Hot Rod Charlie.

The colt has had success with jockey Luis Saez, who was aboard the runner in his Breeders' Futurity Stakes and Breeders’ Cup Juvenile victories. He registered a winning time of 1:44.37 in the Futurity and 1:42.09 in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile.

In his debut maiden special weight win, he was joined by jockey Shaun Bridgmohan. For that four-length victory, he registered a winning time of 1:09.98.

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