Essential Quality to skip Preakness; Belmont a possibility

Essential Quality to skip Preakness; Belmont a possibility
Photo: Scott Serio/Eclipse Sportswire

Essential Quality will bypass the Preakness Stakes as connections pursue their long-term goal for the Godolphin homebred: The Aug. 28 Travers Stakes (G1).

Jimmy Bell, president of Godolphin USA, told Horse Racing Nation Tuesday that the Belmont Stakes is a consideration after favored Essential Quality finished fourth in the Kentucky Derby.

"There are other options, and there are other factors that come into that," he said. "Nothing is set in stone."

Earlier Tuesday, Essential Quality trainer Brad Cox said on the "At The Races with Steve Byk" radio program that a Preakness decision will be made soon for stablemate Mandaloun, second in the Kentucky Derby, and Arkansas Derby (G1) runner-up Caddo River.

"The Travers is our ultimate goal" for Essential Quality, Bell said, "so we are going to point toward that work backwards from there. We'll continue to monitor his energy level. And his next start may or may not be the Belmont, as all options are being considered. We're looking at everything, not just, 'this is what we're doing.' This is five weeks away. He's got at least three breezes."

The plan for now is to determine the "best way forward" to the Travers, he said.

"The goal was to get the Kentucky Derby. We got there. Now, then, we reset, recalibrate. The goal is now the Travers."

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