Essential High quality will carry a 5-for-5 document to Churchill Downs subsequent month with an opportunity to remain unbeaten on racing’s largest stage.
The 2020 champion two-year-old reigned supreme Saturday (April 3) within the Grade 2, US$800,000 Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland.
The Tapit colt outduelled sport rival Extremely Motivated, profitable by a neck.
“I am happy with what our colt was in a position to do,” coach Brad Cox mentioned. “It was a dogfight down the lane, and he was in a position to pull it out.”
Important High quality coated 1 1/8 miles in 1:48.50 beneath jockey Luis Saez, returning $3 because the heavy 1-2 favorite.
The Godolphin homebred earned 100 Street to the Kentucky Derby factors with the victory, additional cementing his standing because the one to beat come Could 1.
“4 weeks from at the moment,” Cox mentioned. “Hopefully we’re prepared.”
Keeneland’s Blue Grass awarded Kentucky Derby factors on a 100-40-20-10 foundation. Ending second by fourth and incomes these factors have been Extremely Motivated, Rombauer and Hidden Stash.
The nine-horse Blue Grass lacked true need-the-lead varieties, so it was a query of who would set the early tempo. Extremely Motivated, the 7-2 second alternative within the betting, assumed that function, tracked carefully by Important High quality.
After fractions of 23.83, 48.21 and 1:12.08, Extremely Motivated held a half-length lead over Important High quality. These two hit the stretch effectively away from the sector and prepared for a battle – Important High quality and Saez on the skin, Extremely Motivated and jockey Javier Castellano on the rail.
“I used to be a bit of frightened after we acquired to the stretch as a result of, ( Extremely Motivated), he appeared fairly good,” Saez mentioned. “I do know Important High quality at all times tries however at that time we have been a bit of frightened.
“He knew what the deal was, and eventually, he went.”
Important High quality dug in beneath an extended drive and prevailed for the closest win of his profession. The colt’s 4 earlier begins had produced victories by margins of 4, 3¼, ¾ and 4¼ lengths.
“This was his first actual dogfight,” Godolphin USA President Jimmy Bell mentioned. “He’d proven that versatility in his all of races doing various things – on the lead, off the tempo. At this time, he confronted a horse that actually needed to win this race. Hat’s off to ( Extremely Motivated), for certain.
“They have been decided, each of them, and he simply digs down and finds a bit of bit extra.”
Ought to Important High quality enhance to 6-for-6 4 weeks from now at Churchill Downs, he would earn a primary official Kentucky Derby triumph for Cox, Saez and Godolphin. He may also intention to turn out to be the primary Blue Grass Stakes winner to take the Derby since Strike the Gold in 1991.
Extremely Motivated ought to be safely within the Kentucky Derby subject after selecting up 40 factors for his runner-up effort Saturday. A Keeneland stakes winner at 2, the Klaravich Stables runner entered the day with 10 factors after a third-place effort final month in Aqueduct’s Gotham (G3).
Like Cox, Extremely Motivated coach Chad Brown is one other Eclipse Award winner who’s pursuing a primary Kentucky Derby rating.
“He ran an enormous race,” Castellano mentioned. “I am very happy the way in which he did it at the moment. I acquired beat, completed second, however I am so happy with my horse and the way in which he did it at the moment. Straightforward fractions on the lead, he galloped alongside – that is the primary time he did two turns.
“We examined him a bit of bit to see how far he may go and he did it. He tried with among the best horses within the nation and I give all of the credit score to the winner.”
Third-place finisher Rombauer entered the day with 14 Kentucky Derby factors from his performances in earlier preps. The Michael McCarthy trainee now has 34 and can be on the bubble to make the Churchill beginning gates.
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