Godolphin’s champion colt Essential Quality, the likely top betting choice for the June 5 Belmont Stakes (G1), breezed a sharp five furlongs in :59.80 the morning of May 22 at Churchill Downs, the fifth fastest of 40 horses at the distance.
Trained by Brad Cox, Essential Quality was the 5-2 betting favorite in the May 1 Kentucky Derby (G1) and crossed the wire fourth behind Medina Spirit, Mandaloun, and Hot Rod Charlie. The son of Tapit worked Saturday in company with 5-year-old graded stakes winner Night Ops through early fractions of :24.20 and :47.60, according to Churchill Downs clocker John Nichols.
There were 169 horses that donned the Saturday work tab at Churchill Downs including Kentucky Derby runner-up Mandaloun who cruised an easy half-mile in :48.20. His next start is still to be determined, according to Cox.
At Santa Anita Park on Saturday, Louisiana Derby (G2) winner Hot Rod Charlie also worked five furlongs in 1:01.60 under Flavien Prat at 7:45 a.m. in preparation for his expected run in the 153rd Belmont Stakes.
“I was very happy with the breeze,” said trainer Doug O’Neill. “I got him in 1:01 and out (six furlongs) in 1:13 and change. “He looked great. If all goes well, he’ll breeze again here Friday and get on a plane (to New York) on Saturday.”