Essential Quality was the post-time favorite to win the Kentucky Derby this past Saturday, but the colt finished fourth – his first time not winning a race in his young career. Oddsmakers still opened the Brad Cox-trained horse as the +250 favorite for the Preakness Stakes on May 15 at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore, but Cox said Tuesday that the horse will not run and be pointed toward the final leg of the Triple Crown, the Belmont Stakes on June 5 in New York.
"He didn't get the greatest trip as he was wide around both turns," Cox said of Essential Quality at the Derby. "That can happen when you start from the 14 hole, especially when don't get off to a good start. He was leaning out on the far turn and Luis (Saez) said he was shying away from the other horses."
Cox was making his first appearance in the Kentucky Derby and was trying to become the first Louisville-born trainer to win it. Also trained by Cox, Derby runner-up Mandaloun opened +700 for the 146th Preakness and Caddo River +1000, but Cox added Tuesday that decisions on both those horses running in Baltimore would be decided in the next few days with their respective owners.
Essential Quality out of the Preakness should make Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit the betting favorite – he opened +350 behind Essential Quality. Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez aboard Medina Spirit gave Bob Baffert his seventh Kentucky Derby win, breaking a tie with Ben Jones for the most victories all-time by a trainer.
Medina Spirit covered the 1¼ miles on a fast track in 2:01.02. At +1200 odds, he paid $26.20 on a $2 win bet. Velazquez became only the third jockey over the last 30 years to win consecutive Derbies and it was Velazquez's fourth Derby win overall.
Baffert has won seven times in the Preakness Stakes, tied for the record with R. Wyndham Walden, who won his seven in the late 1880s. Velazquez hasn't won the race and in 2019 was thrown from the saddle off at the start by Bodexpress, with the horse running without Velazquez, who wasn't hurt, for the duration of the race. The Preakness is a bit shorter than the Derby at 1 3/16 miles.
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