Essential Quality looms large as Travers favorite

(Courtesy: WAVE 3 News)
Published: Aug. 27, 2021 at 11:29 AM EDT
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - There’s a reason why Essential Quality is the early odds-on pick for Saturday’s Runhappy Travers Stakes at Saratoga. The Brad Cox-trainee is ultra-consistent, having won seven of his eight career starts.

A victory in the mile and a quarter Travers could just about nail down the three-year-old title for the gray son of Tapit. The only blemish on Essential Quality’s resume is his fourth place finish in the Kentucky Derby, and he only lost by a length. He then bounced back with an impressive Belmont Stakes triumph and is coming off a gutsy win in Saratoga’s Jim Dandy Stakes.

“He’s sharp, mentally. He’s sharper this race than going into the Jim Dandy,” Cox told the Saratoga publicity department . “My plan all along was to have him peak in this spot. Our goal since the Kentucky Derby was to have him at his best Travers Day and from a mental and physical standpoint, I feel he’s right where we want him.”

Six challengers will line up and try to upset Essential Quality, who’s listed at the 4-5 morning line choice.

Midnight Bourbon is considered to be the main threat to the favorite. This colt has finished in the money eight of his 10 races. He was running a solid third in the stretch of the Haskell until Hot Rod Charlie swooped in front of him, causing Midnight Bourbon to stumble and fall. His only other off-the-board effort came in the Derby as he endured a troubled trip and ran sixth.

Keepmeinmind, who finished second in the Jim Dandy, seems to be improving for the Travers, but this colt has been beaten by Essential Quality five times.

The Travers is one of six Grade One races on this Saratoga card. Post time is 6:12 P.M.

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