Essential Quality wins the Belmont after a stretch run duel with Hot Rod Charlie. The handsome gray colt, who was the favorite for the Kentucky Derby, came through today and showed his “quality”.
After a clean break, the colt trailed the leaders — Hot Rod Charlie and Rock Your World, who set a fast pace for the opening quarter mile. Hot Rod Charlie continued to put up a good fight as Rock Your World and France Go de Ina dropped back. Essential Quality pulled out four wide to run for the lead and the two horses battled down the stretch, leaving the rest of the field behind.
In the end, Essential Quality pulled away to win by 1 1/4 lengths. This is the colt’s sixth win in seven starts; his only loss to date being the Derby.
For jockey Luis Saez, the win was a redemption. He had piloted Maximum Security to a Derby win in 2019, only to have the colt disqualified for interfering with other horses. Saez dedicated his win to his younger brother, Juan, who was killed in a racing accident in 2014 at the age of 17.
The Belmont win also marked the first Triple Crown race win for trainer Brad Cox. Although Cox, as the trainer of Mandaloun, may pick up a Derby first if Medina Spirit is disqualified. Cox predicted that Essential Quality was his “Belmont horse’ last summer.
Essential Quality also gave owner Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum his first American Classic Win under the Godolphin banner. The Sheikh has been eying the Kentucky Derby for decades — since 1999 — a prize that has so far eluded him, despite spending millions of dollars on their breeding program and having entered 11 times. Their last four entries have been home breds, and Essential quality is another. As the top 2-year-old in the country last year, the colt had already won $2.2 million.
Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the prime minister and a vice president of the hereditarily ruled United Arab Emirates, has been been plagued by rumors that he has violated human rights and orchestrated the disappearance of his own daughter.
One of Sheikh Mohammed’s daughters, Sheikha Latifa bint Mohammed Al Maktoum, said last spring that she is being held against her will, according to video diaries she said were recorded inside a Dubai villa and broadcast by the BBC. Sheikha Latifa was detained by commandos in 2018 after she tried to flee Dubai in a yacht. The princess’ 38-year-old sister, Shamsa, was taken from Cambridge, England, on Aug. 19, 2000, and hasn’t been seen since. His wife, Princess Haya, fled Dubai in 2019 with her two children saying that she was scared of her husband’s threats.