Who might upset Essential Quality in the Blue Grass Stakes?

Keeneland black and white

copyright 2016 AGameofSkill.com

There is one simple question concerning Saturday’s running of the Grade 2, $800,000 Toyota Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland.

Can Essential Quality be beaten?

The Godolphin homebred is the current Kentucky Derby favorite, based on his perfect 4-for-4 career record. Two of those wins came at Keeneland. And both were Grade 1 victories. Essential Quality won the Breeders’ Futurity last October, then followed up with a Nov. 6 victory in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at Keeneland to clinch the Eclipse Award for 2-year-old champion.

Trained by another 2020 Eclipse Award winner, Brad Cox, the son of Tapit was impressive in his 2021 debut, winning the twice-delayed Southwest Stakes at Oaklawn by 4 1/4 lengths over a sloppy track on Feb. 27. Rather than remain in Hot Springs for next week’s Arkansas Derby, Cox decided to ship Essential Quality back to Kentucky and make the Blue Grass his star attraction’s final prep before the big Churchill Downs race on May 1.

Even as the 3-5 morning-line favorite Saturday, Essential Quality does faces an interesting if not formidable field Saturday, starting with 3-1 second choice Highly Motivated, owned by Seth Klarman’s Klaravich Stables and trained by Chad Brown, who won the 2018 Blue Grass with Good Magic…

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About Editor

Rich Nilsen is a 19-time qualifier to the National Horseplayers Championship (NHC), an event he has cashed in four times. He was the first player to finish in the top 10 of the NHC twice. A former executive with Brisnet.com and a member of the NHC Players’ Committee, Rich is a graduate of the University of Louisville Equine Business Program and is founder of AGameofSkill.com, a site devoted to horse racing education and promotion.

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