Blue Norther Stakes
New Years Stakes
Road to the Derby
Year in Review
Luis Saez and Essential Quality head to the winner's circle after the Jim Dandy
There were three graded stakes contested on Saturday at Saratoga, on an unusually cool day with overcast skies and temperatures in the high 60's at the historic upstate oval.
Down the stretch in the Jim Dandy
Jockey Jose Ortiz sent 11-1 longest shot Dr Jack to the lead first time by and he set fractions of 23.81 and 47.41 while pressed by Masqueparade and stalked by Weyburn. Turning for home, Essential Quality, 4th early under Luis Saez, came out 3 wide for room and swept to the front through 1 mile in 1:36.53. 9-1 Keepmeinmind put in a strong late rally from last but Essential Quality held him off to win by 1/2 a length in 1:49.92. It was another 2 1/4 lengths back to Masqueparade third.
The Vanderbilt and Bowling Green Handicaps also on the card
Pgm Horse Jockey Win Place Show 5 Essential Quality Saez 2.80 2.10 - 4 Keepmeinmind Rosario 4.00 - 2 Masqueparade Mena - Winning Time: 1:49.92 $1 Exacta 5-4 3.25 $1 Trifecta 5-4-2 8.50 $1 Superfecta 2-5-4-1 13.00
Right: Essential Quality heads back to the barn after the race. Winning jockey Luis Saez said, "I knew they were going to slow the pace down, so my tactic was to break and be right there. At the half-mile, I saw everyone was very comfortable so it was time to start moving. He gave me a kick. We came to the top of the stretch and he just took off. I saw [Keepmeinmind], but I had a lot of horse and I knew he was going to finish. The plan today was not to take too much away from him. He always fights and he always wants to win."
Left: Essential Quality in the paddock. Jimmy Bell, president of winning owner-breeder Godolphin USA said, "Consistency has been his hallmark and it was a battle down the stretch. It was probably good for him, which is easier to say after the race than when they're at the sixteenth pole. He shows that determination, that class and that grit. Luis rides him with such confidence and this was a hard fought race. He was a little wide but he found a way and overcame whatever he needed to do to get the job done. That's the mark of a really good horse that when things aren't always their way, they find a way."
Right: Essential Quality heads out for the post parade. Cox added, "It reminded me a lot of the Blue Grass. Even though we turned for home we were right there, but it took a while to get past [Highly Motivated]. He's able to dig in, fight and move on. He's not the flashiest horse and Luis works on him. That's just him. As long as he comes out of it well, we'll probably work him 7-14 days out weather permitting on the main track. Similar works to what he had leading up to this. He's going to get more out of this that he is working in the morning. I'm glad we were able to get this in him as a tightener for the Travers."
Left: Second place finisher Keepmeinmind heads out for the post parade. Jockey Joel Rosario said, "It looked like he was always in the back but he broke really sharp today. I just tried to ride him from there and save a little bit for the end. He kept on going and going, but the horse on the outside [Essential Quality], he couldn't hold him."
Right: Third place finisher Masqueparade in the paddock. Trainer Al Stall Jr. said, "I can't find much of an excuse. We were dealing with the pace horses and we survived the pace and the other two up there with us were out the back door. We were still there fighting towards the end. He's a horse who has given up a lot of seasoning to these types of horses and I think he handled himself really well."
The horses break from the gate for the Jim Dandy Stakes. Bell added, "We all know how these small fields can be sometimes, too. It doesn't always play out the way you think it will, but Luis just rode the race as he found it. He rode him like he was the best horse and got the job done."
On to the Vanderbilt and Bowling Green Handicaps also on the card
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