News and STORIES

Essential Quality Furthers Kentucky Derby Claims With Blue Grass Stakes Victory

Author: Ryan Knuppel
Published: Monday April 05, 2021
The Keeneland Spring meeting was always set to be a thrilling weekend of action, and that proved to be the case. Kentucky Derby-hopeful Essential Quality was involved in one of the featured races of the meeting, and he furthered his claims for the first of the Triple Crown events with success in the Blue Grass Stakes.

Essential Quality Victorious On Return

Essential Quality, trained by Brad Cox, remains the favorite for the Kentucky Derby after winning his fifth straight race at Keeneland this past weekend. The three-year-old started slowly in the Blue Grass Stakes but recovered well to challenge for the lead. The class of Essential Quality showed in the final furlong, as he was able to build up a solid lead before being challenged towards the line.
Fortunately, he was able to hang on to win by a neck from Highly Motivated. The runner-up also looks set to be a main contender in the Kentucky Derby, and this run would have pleased connections. However, it was all about Essential Quality maintaining his perfect record, and he remains the joint-favorite for the Kentucky Derby, alongside Concert Tour.

Bourbonic Upsets Odds In Wood Memorial Stakes

The performance of the weekend came in the Grade 2 Wood Memorial Stakes, as 72/1 shot Bourbonic caused a massive shock against a number of horses that would have been aiming for a strong prep run before the Kentucky Derby. The three-year-old was excellent, as he managed to hold on to the win by a head from Dynamic Ore. However, we potentially learned more about Risk Taking at Aqueduct.
The three-year-old was considered a live chance for the Kentucky Derby before the race, but he finished a massive seven lengths behind the eventual winner of the Wood Memorial Stakes. The Chad Brown-trained horse traveled to Aqueduct having won his last two and was the heavy favorite to claim a third straight success. However, defeat has seen his odds for the Kentucky Derby drift to as low as 20/1. Meanwhile, Bourbonic is now a 12/1 shot for an unlikely Kentucky Derby success.

Malathaat Claims Grade 1 Success

Malathaat certainly looks to be an exciting filly and one that looks excellent value for Kentucky Oaks' success next month. The three-year-old won for the fourth straight time for trainer Todd Pletcher this past weekend, as she picked up Grade 1 success in the Central Bank Ashland Stakes. The victory was a second straight Graded victory, as she had previously won the Grade 2 Demoiselle Stakes back in December.
Malathaat held on excellently well to win by a head from Pass The Champagne, and she certainly looks like one that will attract a lot of attention for the Kentucky Oaks. Will’s Secret was also involved in the contest, but the Dallas Stewart-trained three-year-old finished more than five lengths behind the winner.

Pauline’s Pearl Wins Fantasy Stakes

Pauline’s Pearl also looks set for a challenge at the Kentucky Oaks, as she claimed a second win in three. The three-year-old for trainer Steven Asmussen won the Grade 3 Fantasy Stakes at Oaklawn Park on Saturday, as she finished a length clear of Ava’s Grace. The only defeat that Pauline’s Pearl has suffered this calendar year came in the Honeybee Stakes, as she finished narrowly behind Will’s Secret.
However, there were certain signs of improvement from the three-year-old at Oaklawn Park on Saturday, and she could be one worth a second look when it comes to the Kentucky Oaks for gamblers. Modernist was also a winner this past weekend, as she won the Grade 3 Excelsior Stakes at Aqueduct from Haikal.