Godolphin were yet to win the signature contest at this meeting headed into 2021 but looked to have their best chance yet, with their representative Essential Quality having made his way to the head of the market. Winning the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile in 2020, the colt had built on that effort at three in landing the Belmont Stakes and Travers Stakes in good style.
Next in the betting came Hot Rod Charlie, who had chased Essential Quality home in the Belmont, before landing a Grade 1 success of his own in the Pennsylvania Derby; and 2020 Breeders Cup Dirt Mile champ, Knicks Go, who had begun 2021 with a win in the Pegasus World Cup. Art Collector and Max Player were also proven at the top level, whilst the Bob Baffert-trained Medina Spirit looked the type to take a big step forward, heading into the race on the back of a career-best success in the Awesome Again Stakes.
- 1st – Knicks Go 16/5, Jockey: Joel Rosario, Trainer: Brad Cox
- 2nd – Medina Spirit 68/10, Jockey: John Velazquez, Trainer: Bob Baffert
- 3rd – Essential Quality 19/10F, Jockey: Luis Saez, Trainer: Brad Cox
Prize Money Breakdown
- 1st – £2,277,372.26
- 2nd – £744,525.55
- 3rd – £394,160.58
- 4th – £218,978.10
- 5th – £131,386.86
- 6th – £87,591.24
- 7th – £43,795.62
- 8th – £43,795.62
Tote and Forecast Payouts
- Tote Win – $8.40
- Tote Places – 1st – $4.00, 2nd – $4.00, 3rd – $2.80
- Exacta – $32.60
- Trifecta – $83.90
As many expected, it was Knicks Go who was taken into an early lead when the stalls opened. However, Joel Rosario was no doubt delighted that none of his rivals opted to challenge his mount at the head of affairs, allowing him to set the fractions to suit himself – creating an ideal scenario for a runner with serious speed, but who was stepping up to this 1m2f trip for the first time. Art Collector tracked the pace to the outside, together with Medina Spirit, whilst Essential Quality was settled in midfield, taking the shortest route around the inside rail.
Into the backstretch and Knicks Go slowly but steadily began to increase the pace, opening up a gap of two lengths back to the pack. Rounding the turn for home, the leader still seemed to be travelling within himself. Amongst those in behind, Medina Spirit and Art Collector were close up but being ridden, with Hot Rod Charlie appearing more of a danger, travelling smoothly into contention on the inside. Rosario had, however, kept something up his sleeve on the leader, kicking again and sealing the deal with a late finishing burst to come home 2¾l clear of a one-paced Medina Spirit, and Essential Quality, who did well in the end to nab third from an unpromising position.
This was a huge win for Brad Cox, who had seven wins at this meeting to his name but, prior to this, had never claimed the main event. It was a second success for Joel Rosario, who previously partnered the John Sadler-trained Accelerate to victory in 2018.
- 1. Tripoli – SP: 158/10, Trainer: John Sadler, Jockey: Irad Ortiz Jr.
- 2. Express Train – Non-runner
- 3. Hot Rod Charlie – SP: 16/5, Trainer: Doug O’Neill, Jockey: Flavien Prat
- 4. Essential Quality – SP: 19/10F, Trainer: Brad Cox, Jockey: Luis Saez
- 5. Knicks Go – SP: 16/5, Trainer: Brad Cox, Jockey: Joel Rosario
- 6. Art Collector – SP: 102/10, Trainer: William Mott, Jockey: Mike Smith
- 7. Stilleto Boy – SP: 52/1, Trainer: Ed Moger Jr, Jockey: Kent Desormeaux
- 8. Medina Spirit – SP: 68/10, Trainer: Bob Baffert, Jockey: John Velazquez
- 8. Max Player – SP: 13/1, Trainer: Steven Asmussen, Jockey: Ricardo Santana Jr.