In a tight finish between the 2-year-old champion and fellow Derby contender, HIGHLY MOTIVATED, ESSENTIAL QUALITY manages to secure 100 additional points towards the Kentucky Derby.
Coming down to the wire, the pair were 7 lengths ahead of the field, but it wasn't quite the easy victory ESSENTIAL QUALITY was looking for. He stalked HIGHLY MOTIVATED from the start and they both seemed to fire their engines heading for home. In a day with multiple dead heats at Keeneland, it was another close finish with ESSENTIAL QUALITY just barely getting ahead for the win.
ESSENTIAL QUALITY was the 1-2 favorite in the nine horse field for the 1 ? mile Blue Grass. The final time was 1:48.50. The Godolphin owned colt was able to keep his undefeated record intact. HIGHLY MOTIVATED adds another 40 points towards the Road to the Kentucky Derby, giving him 50 total. ESSENTIAL QUALITY moves back to the top of the leaderboard with 140 points. ROMBAUER and HIDDEN STASH finished out the order.
Jockey Luis Saez admitted in an interview with Gabby Gaudet that he was a little worried coming down the stretch, as HIGHLY MOTIVATED was not giving up, making his colt fight for the win.
Stay tuned to Horse Racing Radar for a full recap of Keeneland's weekend action on Monday.