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Essential Quality highlights Champion credentials again in G1 Travers Stakes


Essential Quality enhanced his position as the top three-year-old in North America with another display full of courage and professionalism in the G1 Travers Stakes on Saturday, 28 August.

The Brad Cox-trained colt went into the highlight of Saratoga’s Summer Meet having already established himself as the best of his generation with two G1 wins during a Champion juvenile campaign and a determined victory in this year’s G1 Belmont Stakes.

A slight stumble at the start was the only moment of real concern for Essential Quality, who soon recovered to settle in a clear second as Preakness Stakes runner-up Midnight Bourbon strode on into a four-length lead.

Midnight Bourbon’s advantage was reduced as his six rivals closed leaving the back straight, with Essential Quality responding gamely for Luis Saez to press the leader at the top of the lane.

Essential Quality narrowly took up the running a furlong and a half out and got the measure of the rallying Midnight Bourbon inside the final half-furlong for a comfortable neck verdict. The first two home pulled a full five lengths clear of Miles D in the 10-furlong feature.

Brad Cox said: “Essential Quality broke well. We were hoping that he wouldn’t lose as much ground and have more of a ground-saving trip as opposed to the Jim Dandy. Luis did a good job of recognizing that there wouldn’t be a whole lot of pace. He asked him to run out of there and established good position and didn’t let Midnight Bourbon get too far away up the backside. I was a little worried up the backside once he cleared up with softer fractions. He’s a tremendous horse. He’s a champion and he ran like one today.

“He has danced a lot of dances and shown up. His lone defeat was the Kentucky Derby, where we felt he was right there in the mix. He’s done nothing wrong. We are proud of what he has accomplished this year and he’s a very good horse with a fantastic resume.”

Luis Saez added: “It’s amazing - that’s my second Travers and I’m so thankful to be here and be a part of it in this amazing race. To me, Essential Quality is the best horse, the horse of the year, and he deserves all the credit.”

Godolphin USA President Jimmy Bell said: “It says a lot about his His Highness Sheikh Mohammed’s breeding and racing program to be able to put an athlete like this to the forefront as a two-year old and a three-year old.

“Essential Quality has brought a lot of joy to everyone. It’s been a great team effort. Brad and his team have done a great job. When you go to the Belmont at the mile and a half, to a mile and an eighth in the Jim Dandy and to a mile and a quarter here, hats off to the way they brought him into this race in good form.”