Author: Steve Keating
(Reuters) – The basic quality was a disappointment from the Kentucky Derby when he beat home Hot Rod Charlie to win the Belmont Stakes on Saturday, pulling back the curtain of a tumultuous year for the US Triple Crown racing title.
The favorite to win the Kentucky Derby in May, Essential Quality, returned home fourth in Churchill Downs, but this time got the perfect ride from jockey Luis Saez.
When Hot Rod Charlie set an early stormy pace, the big gray jumped in the last turn, then fought the front racer and neck and neck at home before starting to win for a length and a half.
It was the fifth victory in six career races for Essential Quality, owned by Dubai ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum.
Preakness Stakes winner Rombauer was third.
“We’re making history today,” Saez said. “In the Kentucky Derby, we were so sure we would win the race, he was ready, but we had a bit of a bad start.
“Today was the main thing to try to break through, I know the rest of the race will do it.”
It was the first victory in the Belmont Stakes and Triple Crown for coach Rob Cox, who could end up with two Triple Crown jewels if the Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit is stripped of the victory after a positive test for the banned substance betamethasone.
If Medina Spirit is banned from Cox, the coached second Mandaloun will be declared the winner of the Kentucky Derby.
While the 1-1 / 2 mile test featured a quality field with eight horses, the talks in the run were more focused on who would not be at the starting gate of Belmont Park.
Hall of Famer Spirits Baffert, who received a two-year sentence from Churchill Downs for his role in the positive test, was also missing. Earlier, the New York Racing Association indefinitely shut down Baffert from its tracks.
The victory in the Belmont Stakes also comes with a controversy with owner Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, who is being watched by human rights groups over allegations that the Dubai ruler organized the disappearance of his own daughter.
Rights groups have tried to ban the rulers of the Kentucky Derby by filing a complaint with the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission.
Cox avoided disputes, but praised the sheikh several times for his support and support.
“Sheikh Mohammed has been supporting us for the last two years and this is a world-class organization,” Cox said. “Obviously we wouldn’t be here without this horse and his support, so I really wanted to thank him.”
(Report by Steve Keating in Toronto. Edited by Sonya Hepinstall and Marguerita Choy)