Watch: Essential Quality leads Derby workers at Churchill

Watch: Essential Quality leads Derby workers at Churchill
Photo: Eclipse Sportswire

On an action-packed Saturday morning beneath the Twin Spires at Churchill Downs, Godolphin’s undefeated champion colt Essential Quality continued his march to the $3 million Kentucky Derby with a swift five-furlong move in 59.6 early Saturday morning. Fellow Derby contenders Mandaloun (six furlongs, 1:11.4) and Soup and Sandwich (five furlongs, 59.8) also worked toward their start in the Run for the Roses.

Essential Quality, the recent winner of the $800,000 Blue Grass (G2) at Keeneland, worked at 5:15 a.m. (all times Eastern) with jockey Luis Saez aboard through splits of 12.8, 24.6 and 47.4. The gray Tapit colt began his work one length behind two-time winning stablemate Spa City and finished even at the wire. Spa City’s final five-furlong time was 59.8, according to Churchill Downs clocker John Nichols. Essential Quality galloped out six furlongs in 1:13.2 and completed seven furlongs in 1:28.6.

“I’m not taking a deep breath yet but we’re very pleased with where we are at today two weeks from the Derby,” trainer Brad Cox said. “He really had to work for that win in the Blue Grass and we were very pleased how well he ended up bouncing out of it.”

Following Essential Quality’s move, Juddmonte Farm’s Mandaloun worked with jockey Florent Geroux aboard in company with maiden winner Colonel Bowman. The duo began their six-furlong move from the five-eighths pole through splits of 12.40, 24.2, 35.6 and 58.8. Mandaloun continued to extend his stride in front of Colonel Bowman through a seven-furlong gallop out in 1:25.2 and completed one-mile in 1:41.6. Colonel Bowman’s final six-furlong time was 1:11.8.

“(Mandaloun) worked great,” Cox said. “We were all puzzled after the Louisiana Derby (G2) but he’s been doing great since that race maybe that was just a head scratcher. He’s a really good looking son of Into Mischief and we know he’s better than what we saw in his last start.”

At 7:30 a.m., Live Oak Plantation’s homebred Soup and Sandwich cruised five furlongs with jockey Tyler Gaffalione on board. The undefeated son of Into Mischief worked in company with four-time winner Epic Dreamer through opening fractions of 12.4, 24.2 and :35.2. Soup and Sandwich began drawing clear of his workmate at the wire and galloped out strongly in front with a six-furlong time of 1:12.4 and completed seven furlongs in 1:25.2.

“This horse is just starting to figure things around the racetrack,” trainer Mark Casse’s assistant David Carroll said. “Tyler was in cruise control around there and that gallop out was great.”

Saturday started the 7:30-7:45 a.m. training period for Derby and Kentucky Oaks contenders. During that time window, Phoenix Thoroughbred’s $200,000 Gulfstream Park Oaks (G2) winner Crazy Beautiful worked a five-furlong bullet move in :59 with opening fractions of 12.4, 24.0, 35.4 and 47.0 She completed her work with a six-furlong gallop out in 1:12.4.

Fellow Oaks contender Ava’s Grace, the runner-up in the $600,000 Fantasy (G3) behind Pauline’s Pearl, worked a half-mile in 48.6 at 5:15 a.m. with jockey Adam Beschizza up. Owned by Cypress Creek Equine and trained by Robertino Diodoro, Ava’s Grace has yet to finish off the board four starts with one win, one second and two third-place finishes.

2021 Kentucky Derby (G1)

*Rating is based on HRN fan votes, which rank the Top Active Horses in training.
RankSilksHorse / SireRatingTrainer / JockeyLast StartStatus
 Essential Quality
Tapit
8.56
B. Cox
1st, 2021 Blue Grass Stakes (G2) 
Probable
 Rock Your World
Candy Ride
8.31
J. Sadler
1st, 2021 Santa Anita Derby (G1) 
Probable
 Hot Rod Charlie
Oxbow
8.18
D. O'Neill
1st, 2021 Louisiana Derby (G2)
Probable
 Known Agenda
Curlin
8.08
T. Pletcher
1st, 2021 Florida Derby (G1) 
Probable
 Medina Spirit
Protonico
8.04
B. Baffert
2nd, 2021 Santa Anita Derby (G1) 
Probable
 Super Stock
Dialed In
7.74
S. Asmussen
1st, 2021 Arkansas Derby (G1) 
Probable
 Midnight Bourbon
Tiznow
7.51
S. Asmussen
2nd, 2021 Louisiana Derby (G2)
Probable
 Highly Motivated
Into Mischief
7.48
C. Brown
2nd, 2021 Blue Grass Stakes (G2) 
Probable
 Soup and Sandwich
Into Mischief
7.40
M. Casse
2nd, 2021 Florida Derby (G1) 
Probable
 Like the King
Palace Malice
7.35
W. Ward
1st, 2021 Jeff Ruby Steaks (G3) 
Probable
 Caddo River
Hard Spun
7.31
B. Cox
2nd, 2021 Arkansas Derby (G1) 
Probable
 Helium
Ironicus
7.27
M. Casse
1st, 2021 Tampa Bay Derby (G2) 
Probable
 Dream Shake
Twirling Candy
7.11
P. Eurton
3rd, 2021 Santa Anita Derby (G1) 
Possible
 Crowded Trade
More Than Ready
6.88
C. Brown
3rd, 2021 Wood Memorial (G2) 
Unlikely
 Bourbonic
Bernardini
6.84
T. Pletcher
1st, 2021 Wood Memorial (G2) 
Probable
 Mandaloun
Into Mischief
6.81
B. Cox
6th, 2021 Louisiana Derby (G2)
Probable
 Sainthood
Mshawish
6.65
T. Pletcher
2nd, 2021 Jeff Ruby Steaks (G3) 
Probable
 O Besos
Orb
6.60
G. Foley
3rd, 2021 Louisiana Derby (G2)
Probable
 Hidden Stash
Constitution
6.49
V. Oliver
4th, 2021 Blue Grass Stakes (G2) 
Probable
 Dynamic One
Union Rags
6.46
T. Pletcher
2nd, 2021 Wood Memorial (G2) 
Probable
 Keepmeinmind
Laoban
6.19
R. Diodoro
5th, 2021 Blue Grass Stakes (G2) 
Possible
 King Fury
Curlin
5.92
K. McPeek
1st, 2021 Lexington (G3) 
Possible
 Get Her Number
Dialed In
5.85
P. Miller
4th, 2021 Arkansas Derby (G1) 
Possible
 Hockey Dad
Nyquist
5.27
D. O'Neill
8th, 2021 Lexington (G3) 
Possible

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