How can you choose against the essential quality?


SARATOGA SPRINGS – The race we’ve been waiting for all summer has arrived.

The Travers Stakes, Saratoga’s flagship event of the season, will be played for the 152nd time on Saturday night at ten to six.

Since a big, robust 3 year old colt named Essential Quality took up residence on the Oklahoma Training Track in early July, he has been the horse everyone is talking about. From the backstretch to the main track, from Pennell’s to Sperry’s, from Adelphi to Gideon Putnam, horse lovers and riders have dissected Tapit’s son’s strengths. And there have been many.

Essential Quality has been called the best of his generation, the best 3 year old in the country. And he certainly supported that.

Seven wins in eight career starts. Five different tracks. All of his starts, except for his first win, have been high-stakes races. Essential Quality was the 2-year-old champion. He won the Belmont Stakes Grade I. Most recently he took his last big step towards Travers by winning the Jim Dandy Grade II here on July 31st.

As soon as Essential Quality crossed the finish line in the Belmont, Jimmy Bell, the president of Godolphin, owner of the colt, declared that the summer goal was the Travers. And here we are.

Essential Quality showed how good he was in the Jim Dandy when he ran the widest of all in the 1 1/8 mile race and was by far the best when he held Keepmeinmind by a half. length. Watching this race from the winner’s circle, I never doubted that Essential Quality was going to win this race.

The style of Essential Quality exudes confidence. He runs knowing he’s not going to lose.

This is what I saw of him watching him this year. I saw him train in Kentucky for the Derby, where he lost his only race, finishing fourth. I watched him prepare for the Belmont Stakes on Long Island and he still looked like he was part of it.

Here he flourished. As cheesy as it sounds, he looks better every time I see him.

“I think he’s bigger,” his trainer, Brad Cox, said this week. He’s stronger now than he was before the Belmont. It comes with age. He is still a young horse and I continue to see signs of progress. That’s why he’s 4-5 in the Travers. “

These are the morning odds for Essential Quality, which will face six others. He’s already raced against five of them, beat them all. The only horse he hasn’t seen on a race track is Miles D, trained by Chad Brown, who has only started three times.

Which brings us to the question of the day, of the meeting. Can Essential Quality be beaten in the Travers? I say no. And, yes, I know the great horse has been beaten in races at Saratoga before. Triple Crown winner American Pharoah lost Travers 2015. The Immortal Secretariat lost Whitney in 73.

Calm. I’m not saying Essential Quality is in the same league as Pharoah or Big Red. He is not.

For this culture, however, he is the most accomplished horse and continues to thrive. He might not win the Midsummer Derby by pole, but I’m pretty confident he will win. Since 2010, three favorites have won the Travers, the most recent being Tiz the Law last year. Essential Quality will be the second in a row to win the Travers.

The most convincing race of the race will be for the second. You can make a case for each of them. Dynamic One looks like a horse that could have a big second part of the season. Keepmeinmind is still knocking on the door. One of these days he will go for it. Masqueparade is Trainer Al Stall’s premier racer and has a great history with his owners in New Orleans whose first Saratoga horse is this one.

Midnight Bourbon tripped and nearly fell in the Haskell and finished second in the Preakness. Miles D will improve as he gets older. King Fury was my choice of Derby before scratching the day before with a fever. Two starts ago, he was second in the Ohio Derby. He could very well exceed his chances.

But the first choice in the Travers? It is obvious.

Choices : 1. Essential quality. 2. Dynamic. 3. Keep in mind. 4. Thousand D.

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