Essential quality the boss in the Jim Dandy


SARATOGA SPRINGS – There was no silence in the crowd of 36,840 people who packed Saratoga racecourse on Saturday afternoon. There would be no upheaval in the great race of the day of the last day of July.

When the $ 600,000 Jim Dandy Grade II race was over, the ones you’d expect to see in the winner’s circle were there. Brad Cox, the coach in his familiar blue and white baseball cap, was all smiles, as was Jimmy Bell, the president of Godolphin USA. And, of course, the star of the show was in the foreground.

It would be the striking gray colt named Essential Quality, who took all the bows with his jockey Luis Saez.

Who knows what to win, Essential Quality has done it again, putting the Jim Dandy on his ever more impressive resume. The 2-year-old champion from last year won seven of eight career starts, including the Belmont Stakes. His only loss came in the Kentucky Derby when he finished fourth.

Saratoga, long known as a paradise for upheaval, was not ripe for another on this comfortable summer day. Cox admits he thought about it during the week – he saw big favorite Malathaat lose at Coaching Club American Oaks last weekend – but wasn’t obsessed with it. He didn’t have to because he had the big gray freight train by his side.

Cox was not going to start singing for his horse, although he would be perfectly entitled to do so. Essential Quality is the best 3-year-old colt in training.

“I would say he’s the most accomplished 3-year-old in the country,” Cox said. “I’m not the type to brag about my own horse. He’s a damn good colt.”

It wasn’t the brightest of victories, but Tapit’s son did what he had to do as he hurtled down the Saratoga stretch to win the 1 1/8 mile Jim Dandy by a half length on a determined Keepmeinmind.

The win, worth $ 330,000 for the winner, brings Essential Quality’s career bankroll to $ 3,545,144. It also makes him the slam dunk favorite to return here in 27 days and win the biggest prize on Saratoga’s calendar, the $ 1.25 million Travers Stakes.

Essential Quality was supposed to win the Jim Dandy. He was sent off as a 2-5 favorite, but had to work to secure the victory. From the start of the traditional Travers preparation, Saez and Essential Quality were the broadest of all in the field of five horses. It was originally supposed to be six, but coach Chad Brown opted to remove the risk-taking on Saturday morning.

Essential Quality stayed five wide all around the Spa Oval and when the real race started he was right in the middle of it. He entered the stretch and the last eighth mile was a race to the finish between Essential Quality and Keepmeinmind, which was ridden by Joel Rosario. Keepmeinmind, on the inside, was a stubborn enemy, but Essential Quality was too much.

“There were times of anxiety along the way,” Cox said. “I don’t know if I would use the word worried, but there were times of anxiety.”

“It gives you a lot of confidence,” Bell said. “Look at his PP (past performances). Just amazing at this level. They are big races, every one of them. You have the target in your back and he has to come out and prove it every time and time and he did it. “

“He gave me a kick,” said Saez, who has driven Essential Quality in his last seven starts. “We got to the top of the section and it just took off.”

Keepmeinmind, who was the 9-1 fourth pick, did everything right except win. It was the sixth start of the year for the colt trained by Robertino Diodoro. He doesn’t have a win, but that second followed a third in the Ohio Derby on June 26.

Diodoro was not at Spa for the race. A family function took him to Minnesota, where he watched the race on television.

He was impressed with his horse’s effort and hopes to regain Essential Quality in the Travers.

“He ran huge,” Diodoro said over cell phone. “We expected a big effort. Essential Quality is a very tough horse, a great horse. I thought we were going to bring him down the hall. Our horse stepped forward and he took another step forward.”

Essential Quality covered the distance in 1: 49.92 on the track labeled “fast”. He paid $ 2.80 and $ 2.10. There was no show bet.

After Keepmeinmind, Masqueparade was third, Weyburn fourth and point guard Dr Jack fifth.

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