Godolphin homebred Essential Quality overpowered his rivals in the stretch to win Friday's $2 million Breeders' Cup TVG Juvenile presented by Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance (G1) at Keeneland.
Sent from post 5 under Luis Saez as the 7/2 second choice, Essential Quality sat well off the early pace in mid-pack and watched Dreamer's Disease outkick everyone for the lead heading into the clubhouse turn.
With Classier and the 4/5 favorite Jackie's Warrior giving closest watch, Dreamer's Disease posted opening fractions of :22.58, :45.31, and 1:10.48.
Jackie's Warrior made his move midway through the far turn and advanced to the lead near the 1/4 pole, but Hot Rod Charlie - at 94/1 the longest shot on the tote - ranged up three-wide and took command halfway home.
Saez began advancing Essential Quality while cornering and had him in prime position to rally down the middle of the lane, which he do so quite willingly.
To the lead inside the 1/8 pole, the Brad Cox trainee denied Hot Rod Charlie by 3/4 of a length while completing the 1 1/16-mile fast dirt route in 1:42.09.
"I had a perfect trip, a beautiful trip," Saez said. "My horse broke so well. He was in the right spot. I knew there was going to be a lot of speed, so we were in the right spot. At the 3/8, he gave me that kick, so I knew we had a chance to win the race. He can run all day. He’s a nice horse."
Hot Rod Charlie's nearly-successful upset attempt saw him finish 1 1/4 lengths ahead of a streaking Keepmeinmind, who rallied from last of 14 and pushed a fading Jackie's Warrior off the board in fourth.
Rombauer, Dreamer's Disease, King Fury, Sittin On Go, Reinvestment Risk, Calibrate, Camp Hope, and Likeable completed the order of finish.
Essential Quality's win was his third from as many career starts after his maiden-breaking debut score at Churchill Downs and the Breeders' Futurity (G1), the latter held over this same course and distance. The Tapit colt has now earned $1,335,144.
"It was a tremendous effort by this horse," said Cox, who also saddled Aunt Pearl to win the Juvenile Fillies Turf (G1) just one race prior. "Luis stayed after him the whole way. He overcame a lot today. He's a nice colt. Distance is no issue with him. He'll run all day. I’m very proud of him and I’m so happy for the Godolphin organization. What a horse. At the 3/8 pole, Luis stayed after him pretty good and I was hoping he wouldn’t flatten out, but he stayed on. He’s a tremendous horse, has an amazing amount of stamina."
Essential Quality returned $9.40 to win, $6.20 to place, and $4.40 to show. Hot Rod Charlie brought back $51.60 to place and $24 to show, while Keepmeinmind paid $11.20 to show.
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