HALLANDALE BEACH, FL, August 1, 2021 – There’s absolutely nothing wrong with riding the best horse like he’s the best horse. In fact, that’s the preferred tack. But one of these days, Luis Saez’ overconfidence in Essential Quality will make the difference between victory and defeat.
But until then just know that Essential Quality, now 7-for-8 lifetime, is going to find a way to beat you. Just as it appeared he was becoming one-paced inside the sixteenth pole, he dug down deep and overcame, just like he’s always done, except that one time.
And recall that he was carefully handled and saved no ground at any point to lose the Kentucky Derby by a length.
In fairness, Saez found that seam between a rock and a hard place. The Jim Dandy pace was somewhat competitive but deliberate, by no means suited to a late run type, even if late runners did manage to complete a dandy exacta.
However, the winning dynamic appeared to be more a function of the tiring surface than any other factor. And the time of 1:49.75 under the circumstances was very solid, especially since he sustained an unusually long drive.
Many fans might have been underwhelmed by Essential Quality’s performance. And even if the purse was a lofty $600,000, it still was a Grade 2 prep for a Grade 1 Midsummer Classic. But it turned out to be the perfect prep. He had put on weight since the Belmont and needed to go forward in condition. All set now.
Dynamic One took advantage of the distance and a tiring tiring surface from an opened sealed sloppy track to get the job done with authority in Friday’s Curlin Stakes. A perfectly judged and well time finish by Irad Ortiz Jr. didn’t hurt, not did Todd Pletcher’s ability to bring back classy individuals after a lengthy freshening.
Laoban’s Legacy trainer said post-race he believed his debuting baby was a work or two short of his best but still made a wow debut despite racing greenly, taken in hand in deep stretch. Was it the sealed slop or the filly? Probably a little of both…
American Xperiment benefitted from his Main Track entry was in complete control of his debut, looking a winner every step. He was that and more, impressing most favorably and appears to have a bright future. The strong of impressive first starters from the Asmussen shedrow rolls on…
First race Saturday was loaded with interesting takeaways: Kevin’s Folly showed class to break maiden despite racing in close quarters virtually throughout; note. Master Game raced greenly, showed very good speed, and likely wasn’t wrapped all that tightly, appearing short of best; bet back… Hoist the Gold made sustained, wide turn-move, entered the stretch in the 6-path and continued willingly when he had every right to chuck it; note.
Going long on turf, juvenile colt Limited Liability finished like a wild horse in deep stretch, seeming more like a 4-year-old than a baby… Doctor Davis was bet strongly from the bell and was a near run-off as he raced 4 to 5 wide throughout. He had a license to tire and did so in deep stretch; next time dear diary…
Unlike today, when the beat-the-favorite club had reasons to find an alternative to First Captain (7-5) in the Curlin Stakes, finding alternates to Essential Quality (1-2) in Saturday’s Jim Dandy will be more difficult.
Nothing First Captain has done would give bettors cause to beat him. Undefeated in three lifetime starts and a graded winner by virtue of a condition-book loophole—he has the scope and the stride to suggest two turns could be better for him than one.
But this is why they run races and it’s reasonable not to accept a short price. Dynamic One (4-1), Beren (5-1), and Harvard (6-1) are all viable, as are Weyburn and Masqueparade in Saturday’s Jim Dandy. But while the latter two are on improving, they will have to raise their game significantly.
Dynamic One is proven around two turns at the trip with a maiden-allowance score and G2 Wood Memorial placing after making a sustained, premature run; Beren, most experienced at 5-for-10 lifetime, and our choice, Harvard, is 2-for-2 around two turns after adding blinkers and attracts leading rider Luis Saez here.
Essential Quality just has too many weapons for the promising Weyburn (6-1), the “comeback colt” who is sharp and wants to beat you. Masqueparade (4-1) is developing smartly and owns progressive figures for trainer Al Stall Jr. who’s been extremely live at the meet.
The defending champion is 6-for-7 lifetime, his only loss by a length coming in the wide-throughout Kentucky Derby run, his figures are consistently faster and have improved incrementally. Best of all, he loves a fight. He even sheds two pounds off his magnificent winning Belmont battle over Hot Rod Charlie.
Simulcast Saturday features graded stakes from coast to coast, including two “Win-and-In” Breeders’ Cup Sprint events, Saratoga’s G1 Alfred G. Vanderbilt and Del Mar’s G1 Bing Crosby.
Monmouth offers the G3 Monmouth Oaks and Gulfstream Park showcases Florida-bred babies for both sexes, the Dr. Fager for colts and Desert Vixen for the ladies.
SARATOGA RACE COURSE
G1 Alfred G. Vanderbilt Handicap Race 8
A: 2-Mischevious Alex (2-1)
B: 9-Special Reserve, 3-Firenze Fire (3-1)
C: 6-Whitmore (4-1), 8-Montauk Traffic (15-1)
G2 Jim Dandy Stakes Race 9
A: 5-Essential Quality (1-2)
B: 3-Weyburn (6-1), 2-Masqueparade (4-1)
C: 4-Keepmeinmind (6-1)
G2 Bowling Green Race 10
A: 1-Channel Cat (5-1), 5-Channel Maker (5-2)
B: 2-Cross Border (9-2)
DEL MAR RACE COURSE Race 10
A: 8-Dr. Schivel (7-2), 6-Collusion Illusion (4-1)
B: 9-Brickyard Ride (7-2), 3-C Z Rocket (5-2)
Desert Vixen Stakes Race 10
A: 11-Demurely (8-1)
B: 2-Royal Rocker (15-1), 10-Ukiyo (10-1)
C: 7-Silver Smile (7-2), 3-Noble Dreamer (5-2), 4-Soul Flight (20-1)
Dr. Fager Stakes Race 12
A: 3-Cajun Magic (5-1), 9-Dean Delivers (4-1)
B: 7-Hope in Him (8-5), 6-Lightning Larry (6-1)
G3 Monmouth Oaks Race 9
A: 9-Edie Meeny Miny Mo (4-1)
B: 8-Coppelia (6-1), 3-Midnight Obsession (3-1), 6-Allworthy (5-1)
C: 1-She A Hot Mess (10-1), 7-Miss Leslie (15-1)
When multiple horses are listed in a category, preference is for first horse listed