Brad Cox-trained Essential Quality wins Belmont Stakes

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Essential Quality, who opened as the 2-1 favorite, paid $4.60 to win, $3 to place and $2.60 to show. Preakness winner Rombauer was third and Known Agenda fourth.

“That was a long way around there a mile a half, but it was exciting,” Cox said. “It looked like the horse on the inside, he still had run left. I knew it was going to be a battle down the lane.”

Essential Quality finished fourth as a beaten favorite in the Kentucky Derby because of a rough trip. Essential Quality showed in the Belmont why he has long been considered one of the top 3-year-olds in the country.

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“He has never run a bad race in his life, and I think he showed today he met the test of a champion,” said Jimmy Bell, president of Godolphin Stable that owns Essential Quality. “To do what he did as a 2-year-old and come through these races as a 3-year-old with the mile-and-a-half classic, it’s a great tribute to him.”

Backdooring his way to becoming the first Louisville-born trainer to win the Kentucky Derby wouldn’t allow Cox the same joy of victory as the Belmont, which the up-and-coming star will likely remember as his first true Triple Crown triumph.

And Cox saw this coming. He predicted last summer that Essential Quality would be his horse for the Belmont, and that proved true in beating a tough field of seven other horses.

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