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Kentucky Derby Profile: Essential Quality

Current Favorite as Run for the Roses Nears

The 2021 Kentucky Derby promises to be one of the more even fields in recent history.

The only standout runner, Life Is Good, was scratched three weeks ago and will undergo surgery to repair an ankle chip.

Louis Saez, riding Essential Quality, celebrates after winning the Breeders Cup Juvenile at Keenland
Bobby Ellis/Getty Images/AFP

It leaves a wide-open Kentucky Derby Odds market, headlined by Essential Quality. We go through the form of the Brad Cox-trained runner, which firmed into favoritism after winning the Blue Grass Stakes.

Online sports betting is open for the 2021 Kentucky Derby, which runs on May 1.

Essential Quality Form

The 3-year-old has five career starts and has yet to taste defeat, which always adds to the excitement of the Kentucky Derby.

His career started with a maiden win at Churchill Downs before appearing on the world stage in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Futurity at Keeneland. The win came over the well-performed Keepmeinmind and Super Stock, with the latter on the fourth line of betting for the Derby.

A month later, the son of Tapit defeated more Kentucky Derby hopefuls in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. It was a stylish win and confirmed his top-end ability.

His unbeaten run continued in the Grade 3 Southwest Stakes and Grade 2 Blue Grass Stakes. The Blue Grass Stakes win wasn’t overly impressive, but he did what he needed to do.

That other horse was fighting, and I thought we weren’t going to get him,” jockey Luis Saez told Bloodhorse.com. “But I always had faith in Essential Quality. He’s a nice horse. No matter how fast or slow the pace, he always wants to be first at the wire.”

It’s not the electric form we’ve seen from Derby favorites but Essential Quality’s form stacks up nicely compared to his rivals.

Can Godolphin Finally Win?

Godolphin is one of the world’s biggest horse racing operations, but it’s yet to win the Kentucky Derby.

Eleven horses have tried to win in the dark blue colors of Sheik Mohammed, but the controversial figure is determined to win America’s greatest race.

Essential Quality is Godolphin’s 2021 hopeful and American operation manager Jimmy Bell believes there is no pressure.

““The great news is that there has never been an ounce of pressure,’’ Bell said. “It is just that everyone would love to see it happen, from Sheikh Mohammed, who is above all an astute horseman and understands this all probably better than we do.

He is just excited to have opportunities and even more excited that a couple of these are homebreds as well. He makes it very easy because he is so understanding and has a great outlook on things.”

We disagree there is no pressure on having a Kentucky Derby favorite. Godolphin has yet to win or place in the Derby, so its failure to produce Derby winners is a concern.

Is Essential Quality the next big thing? Or will he be the 12th Godolphin runner to bite the dust?

Horse racing odds suggest he’s got an excellent chance of bucking the trend. He will need to improve from his Blue Grass Stakes win, but it did showcase his will to win.

He might not have the brilliance of Kentucky Derby betting favorites of yesteryear, but discounting Essential Quality as anything but a future champion could be a mistake.

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