It was a history-making Belmont Stakes (G1) for the great TAPIT on Saturday when his champion juvenile son Essential Quality became his fourth Belmont Stakes winner in eight years, tying him for the most all-time Belmont Stakes winners. Only one other stallion has sired four Belmont Stakes – another great from the 1800s in 16-time champion sire Lexington.
A horse who has shown he can run from anywhere and win, Godolphin homebred Essential Quality was settled in the back half of the field by Luis Saez as the three leaders broke away to set a sizzling pace about five lengths in front of the rest of the field. The pack closed on the leaders just after the half and Essential Quality was quickly up to challenge longtime pacesetter Hot Rod Charlie.
The race turned into a duel between the top two finishers in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) with Essential Quality getting his head in front as they entered the stretch. Essential Quality showed determination to dig in and start to pull away from Hot Rod Charlie in the final sixteenth for a 1 1/4 length victory with Preakness Stakes (G1) winner Rombauer 12 1/2 lengths behind the winner in third.
“We were so fortunate to have another opportunity [to win a classic after the Kentucky Derby],” said Godolphin USA President Jimmy Bell. “He has never run a bad race in his life, and I think he showed today he met the test of a champion. To do what he did as a 2-year-old and come through these races as a 3-year-old with the mile-and-a-half classic, it’s a great tribute to him.”
The Brad Cox-trainee is the second classic winner for his female family in two years after Contrail won last year’s Japanese Triple Crown. That runner is a grandson of U.S. Champion 2-Year-Old Filly Folklore, who is a half-sister to Essential Quality’s own multiple stakes placed dam Delightful Quality. Essential Quality also finds Grade 1 winner Come Dancing under his third dam.
For Cox, the TAPIT influence convinced him that the Belmont Stakes was a perfect spot for him after he came out of his fourth place finish in the Kentucky Derby (G1) well.
“With the Tapit on top we really thought he would get the mile and a half when given the opportunity. We always thought he had the ability. After the Derby, you just have to see what it takes out of them. It’s a demanding race as well as the Belmont,” said Cox.
“We were watching him for a week or so. We put our heads together and felt like if we we’re going to keep him in training we might as well run him. I really didn’t think I could keep his feet on the ground the next couple of months without keeping him on some type of breeze schedule. He’s a very smart horse. He has a lot of energy, but he lets you know when he’s ready to run.”
𝚃𝙰𝙿𝙸𝚃 👑 𝙼𝙰𝙺𝙴𝚂 𝙷𝙸𝚂𝚃𝙾𝚁𝚈!
The only sire in over a century to sire FOUR @BelmontStakes winners.
Congrats to all connections of the champ Essential Quality ✨ @bradcoxracing @godolphin @luissaezpty https://t.co/ipoNDlWNoA
— Gainesway (@Gainesway) June 5, 2021
The only stallion to sire four Belmont Stakes winners in over 100 years, TAPIT is the King of the race with his accomplishments also including three top three placers in the past seven years. To add to that, he is also the grandsire of last year’s Belmont Stakes winner Tiz The Law.
Already proving to be a sire-of-sires, TAPIT is joined at Gainesway by his Belmont winning son TAPWRIT – now joined by Essential Quality as the only Belmont Stakes-winning sons of their sire to win a juvenile stakes.
Also running the second fastest Beyer of any Belmont Stakes winner in the past 13 years, TAPWRIT’s first yearlings go through the ring this summer.