Essential Quality will vie for favoritism in the Nov. 6 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) at Keeneland following a stylish victory in Saturday’s $400,000 Breeders’ Futurity (G1) over the same track. Now 2-for-2 for Brad Cox, the Godolphin homebred son of Tapit drew off in the short stretch to record a 3 3/4-length decision with Luis Saez.
“I never rode him before,” Saez said. “I was watching the replay (of his career debut), and he looked like ‘Wow, what a horse.’ And today he proved that he’s a very good horse. He did it pretty easy. He was a little green when he came to the track – he was looking around a little bit, but he took off. He was running.
“What a horse. I’m so glad I’m on this horse.”
The 1 1/16-mile race served as a “Win & You’re In” for the Juvenile and awarded 10 points to Essential Quality as a Road to the Kentucky Derby series qualifier.
Off as 19-10 favorite in the nine-horse field, Essential Quality was prominent from the start tracking an opening quarter-mile in :48.86. The gray colt took over before the completion of the backstretch, reaching the half-mile mark in :48.86, and led by a half-length after three-quarters in 1:13.40.
Essential Quality began to open up on the competition entering the stretch, widening his advantage to the wire, and stopped the teletimer in 1:44.37.
Keepmeinmind, the 52-1 longest shot in the field after a runner-up in his debut vs maiden special weight foes, rallied to be a clear second while never a threat to the winner. It was 1 1/2 lengths back to Super Stock, who left the starting gate at 10-1 following a third in the Sept. 5 Iroquois (G3) at Churchill Downs.
“We’ve had some very nice 2-year-old fillies, but this is probably the best (2-year-old colt) I’ve had as far as talent goes,” Cox said. “He’s our first Grade 1 winner as a 2-year-old colt. He means a lot to us. He showed us from Day 1 that he’s special, very talented. Luis (Saez) did a good job of getting him to relax.
“He’s a very green horse. That was my concern today – could he put it all together? And he did. He pulled up a bit on the backside. He’s got some learning to do. If he can figure it out, he’s a serious animal.”
Upstriker was another 4 1/2 lengths back in fourth. Founder, Dixie’s Two Stents, 2-1 second choice Calibrate, King Fury, and Notary completed the order.
Essential Quality was exiting a four-length romp in his career debut, a 6-furlong maiden special weight event on the Sept. 5 Kentucky Derby undercard. The Kentucky-bred is out of the multiple stakes-placed Elusive Quality mare Delightful Quality, a half-sister to 2005 champion 2-year-old filly Folklore.
Keeneland featured a pair of dirt stakes Saturday, and Inthemidstofbiz rolled to a 13-1 upset in the $200,000 Thoroughbred Club of America (G2) for female sprinters.
After notching her first stakes win in the Aug. 31 Satin N Lace S. at Presque Isle Downs, Inthemidstofbiz earned her first graded tally with a three-length decision. The 4-year-old filly closely stalked the pace in third through an opening quarter-mile in :22.12, advanced to even turns on the far turn, and accelerated away into the stretch.
Inthemidstofbiz finished 6 furlongs in 1:09.84 with Martin Garcia. She’s owned by Andrew Knapczyk and trainer Cipriano Contreras, and the bay daughter of Fed Biz was the fifth choice among seven runners.
The Nov. 7 Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint (G1) over the same track could be a target for Inthemidstofbiz, who was claimed by her current connections for a $20,000 tag at Keeneland last October.
“We got lucky today,” Contreras said. “She’s getting better and better. We claimed this filly (for $20,000 at Keeneland during the 2019 Fall Meet) and ran her for (a $16,000 claiming price) at Oaklawn. She started running better, and we took a shot. It worked out.”
Sneaking Out, the 7-5 favorite, rallied to be a non-threatening second, a half-length better than Palace Avenger in third. It was another two lengths to Dos Vinos in fourth. Our Probation, Lady’s Island, and Divine Queen came next under the wire.
Inthemidstofbiz increased her bankroll to $297,121. Bred in Kentucky by J.D. Stuart and Mueller Farms, she is out of the stakes-winning Closing Argument mare Midst.