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ELMONT, NY – Godolphin homebred Essential Quality drew post 2 and was named the 2/1 morning line favorite for Saturday’s 153rd running of the $1.5 million Belmont Stakes (G1) Presented by NYRA Bets at Belmont Park.
A total of eight 3-year-old males comprise the field for the third and final leg of the Triple Crown.
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Essential Quality, the 2020 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) champion, was the 5/2 favorite with an undefeated record entering the Kentucky Derby (G1), where a wide trip kept him a head from crossing the wire in third. The Brad Cox trainee will once again have Luis Saez in the irons as he seeks to right the ship in what will be his seventh career start.
“Luis has a ton of confidence in the colt and he’s confident Essential Quality can get the distance,” Cox said. “We’re hopefully set up for a big race Saturday.”
Finishing just a head past Essential Quality in the Kentucky Derby was Hot Rod Charlie (7/2), who drew post 4 for his second start on the Triple Crown. The Doug O’Neill trainee won the Louisiana Derby (G2) earlier this season and will once again receive the riding services of Flavien Prat.
“With the distance, I think it will suit him well,” O’Neill said. “He’s won going 1 3/16 (miles) in the Louisiana Derby. I think his gate speed and versatility will be an asset as well.”
Racing Dudes 2021 Belmont Stakes Wagering Guide and Picks Presale
Prat’s decision to pilot Hot Rod Charlie left the recent Preakness Stakes (G1) champion Rombauer (3/1) in need of a rider. A suitable replacement was found in Hall of Famer John Velazquez, who will exit aboard the Michael McCarthy trainee from post 3 for the Belmont Stakes.
“He’s had several different riders and it’s not something that’s bothered me,” McCarthy said. “It would have been nice to have Flavien back, but I feel we have a wonderful substitute. This has been Johnny’s home track for 25+ years and he’s very familiar with this race and the way it plays out. I’m very happy with where I’m at.”
Here’s the full field for the 2021 Belmont Stakes:
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