2021 Triple Crown: Essential Quality Stays Undefeated

2021 Triple Crown: Essential Quality Stays Undefeated

Written by on March 3, 2021

Top contenders for the 2021 Triple Crown rolled on in a couple of huge Kentucky Derby prep races over the weekend. The world’s top-rated three-year-old, Essential Quality, made his 2021 debut in the Grade 3 Southwest Stakes while Bill Mott trained Greatest Honour ran in the Fountain of Youth. Did either horse show he has what it takes to win the Triple Crown? Let’s find out so you can continue making your bets against their Triple Crown odds.

Triple Crown Betting Predictions: Essential Quality Wins His 2021 Debut

2021 Kentucky Derby

  • When: Saturday, May 1, 2021
  • Where: Churchill Downs, Louisville, KY

Essential Quality wins the Grade 3 Southwest Stakes

After multiple delays due to cold weather that hit Arkansas, Essential Quality finally made his 2021 debut. The 2020 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner entered the starting gate an even money favorite.

At even money, the Brad Cox trained runner was an overlay. Facing a strong field, including Jackie’s Warrior and the Bob Baffert trained Spielberg, the two-year-old champ overtook the front runners at the top of the stretch and held off Spielberg for a comfortable 3 to 4 length victory.

Because he calls Tapit his sire, no one questioned whether Essential Quality could run over the rain-soaked and muddied Oaklawn Park dirt. The big question was whether he’d fire a big shot in his first race since 2020.

No doubt, the champ proved why he’s a less than +600 chalk to win the Kentucky Derby on May 1. But Essential Quality, as good as he looked beating Spielberg, didn’t post a super fast time. If he improves, he can not only take the Derby, but he can also win the Triple Crown.

Greatest Honour impressive in Grade 2 Fountain of Youth Stakes win

Greatest Honour and Essential Quality are half-brothers, Tapit sired both, and like his half-bro, Greatest Honour must run much faster if he hopes to win the Kentucky Derby, much less the Triple Crown.

Facing a somewhat lackluster Fountain of Youth field, Greatest Honour easily handled his competition for his second straight graded victory. The win impressed because Greatest Honour had to change gears a couple of times in the race.

Let’s not kid ourselves, though. Drain the Clock tired enough in the middle of the stretch for Greatest Honour to motor by. If the Mott trainee allows a horse like Life Is Good to get an easy lead on him like Drain the Clock did, he won’t go past nearly as easily. 

Greatest Honour must show more before we move him up our Derby Rankings, much less consider him a Triple Crown possibility. 

Grade 3 Gotham and Grade 2 San Felipe this weekend.

Capo Kane takes on Highly Motivated in the Gotham Stakes at Aqueduct on Saturday. Of the two, Highly Motivated has the breeding to become a Triple Crown threat. 

The Chad Brown trainee hasn’t raced around two-turns, though. If Highly Motivated wins the Gotham, he’s a Derby and Triple Crown possibility.

Capo Kane proved he has trouble carrying his speed longer than a mile. If he wins the Gotham, it will be difficult to make him a Derby contender until he proves he can take a 1 1/8 mile race.  

Santa Anita Park runs the Grade 2 San Felipe on Saturday. Bob Baffert will saddle the first and second choices. Both Life Is Good and Medina Spirit, the two Baffert runners, have the breeding and talent to win the Derby, Preakness, and Belmont.

The other horse who could become a Derby and Triple Crown contender is Roman Centurion. The Simon Callaghan runner broke his maiden on January 3 and then finished second behind Medina Spirit on January 30. If Roman takes another step forward, he could become a Triple Crown player.