It is the essential quality of a horse to beat
Let’s go back in time.
Before the Kentucky Derby. Before we knew too much about Medina Spirit. Before the legendary trainer, Bob Baffert was once again in trouble and without much sense trying to find his way out of media circuit controversy.
Back then, Critical Quality was the center of attention. The colt was the favorite (2-1) at Churchills Downs, but was beaten early and had a rough ride.
However, he rallied to finish fourth and showed plenty of strength to carry into Saturday’s Belmont Stakes in Elmont, New York.
Saturday’s eight-horse field includes Preakness Stakes winner Rombauer (3-1) but not Medina Spirit, whose Kentucky Derby win could be stripped after a second post-race drug test reportedly came back positive.
Essential Quality is again the 2-1 favorite and there are plenty of reasons to think he will come through this time. The tiny field seems to mean less contact, his No. 2 position is prime and he is the longest of the Triple Crown races at a mile and a half, which giving a horse with a Critical Quality profile a special advantage. Also, Essential Quality is a son of Tapit, who has already sired three Belmont winners, so he’s almost like betting on Manning in football. (Almost.)
Trainer Todd Pletcher has three horses in the field in Bourbonic (15-1), Known Agenda (6-1) and Overtook (20-1), but that looks more like a sign of lack of confidence.
Rombauer has the pace, but it’s hard to imagine the colt getting the stamina to finish strong with the extra length.
At the end of the day it should be Essential Quality’s time to shine.
The selection: Essential quality (2-1)
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