by Danny Brewer

As a race horses move through their career they are tested time and again. The answers they provide will reveal certain things. The latest quiz for Essential Quality may not have been the Bar Exam, but it did tell us something about this striking son of Tapit.

The Jim Dandy Stakes at Saratoga has long been a springboard for three-year old males. The 2021 edition on July 31 featured a compact five horse field, but as we previously established, every race is a test and you never know who will be best on that day.

Essential Quality is just one wide trip away from being unbeaten. Traffic issues in the Kentucky Derby may have caused this handsome gray to come up just a little more than length short in his run at the roses. Coming into the Jim Dandy off a real Quality win in the Belmont Stakes, this Brad Cox trained grandson of Elusive Quality was looking for career win number seven.

As is the case most of the time in this very competitive sport, nothing comes easy. Saratoga has long been called the graveyard for favorites and going off at 2 to 5, Essential Quality was a HEAVY favorite. Could he escape the coffin here was the question.

A moderate early pace and a wider type trip were certainly causes for concern as the runners turned for home. Swinging up on the outside, Essential Quality struck the lead, but the others were simply not going away. Keepmeinmind was on the rail and had run a shorter distance in this mile and an eighth drive over this New York dirt. Trying to make like a mortician under jockey Joel Rosario, Keepmeinmind pulled even with Quality with the wire in sight.

This is where we found out even more about Essential Quality. In both the Bluegrass Stakes and Belmont earlier this year, Quality answered the call when challenged. Simply refusing to lose, this Godolphin owned colt displayed the guts of a real race horse. Digging deep within himself, he hunkered down and came home a half length in front.

The Jim Dandy win made it seven career triumphs at five different tracks. With earnings in excess of $3.5 million, there should not be much question about the Essential Quality in the Brad Cox barn.