TAPIT’s Champion 2-Year-Old Essential Quality put on a show when dueling down the stretch in the 2021 Blue Grass Stakes (G2) but in the end he showed how classy he is, winning the race to stay undefeated.
Making his second start of the year and returning to the scene of his two career Grade 1 victories, Essential Quality was ready to roll in the important Kentucky Derby (G1) prep race. Showing his trademark adaptability, he spent this race running just off the pace throughout. Jockey Luis Saez positioned him just half a length behind the leading Highly Motivated as he raced the 1 1/8 miles around Keeneland.
The race turned into a match race as they started to pull away from the field at the top of the stretch with the rest of the horses five lengths behind them.
Neither was willing to give up with Essential Quality gaining on him with every stride but having to put in a determined run to get there in time. Essential Quality’s undefeated record stayed safe as they approached the wire and he put his head in front. The final strides saw him start to pull away and have a length on his beaten rival at the line with the rest of the field 5 ¾ lengths behind the pair.
“It’s a tremendous feeling,” said trainer Brad Cox. “He had to dig in today. It was probably what he needed. It was good for him to get a good test today He did everything easy enough in his last race. I was proud of what he was able to overcome today. Big effort.”
A second generation Godolphin homebred, Essential Quality is out of the stakes-placed Delightful Quality. That mare is a half-sister to Champion 2-Year-Old Filly Folklore, whose Japanese Triple Crown winning grandson Contrail is also schedule to run in a Grade 1 this weekend, and stakes winner Divided Attention. There are Grade 1 winners under four of Essential Quality’s first five dams with the only one who didn’t produce a Grade 1 winner being a Grade 1 winner herself.
It is setting up to be a top Kentucky Derby for TAPIT with Essential Quality leading the Road to the Kentucky Derby leaderboard and sons Greatest Honour and Proxy sitting eighth and 22nd, respectively.