2021 Triple Crown: Essential Quality Makes 2021 Debut on Saturday

2021 Triple Crown: Essential Quality Makes 2021 Debut on Saturday

Written by on February 24, 2021

The top-rated 3-year-old in the world finally gets onto the racetrack, a Todd Pletcher trained prospect attempts to prove his last race was an anomaly, and one of the best trainers in the world has pegged starts for two of his top Triple Crown contenders. Check out the latest news on the 2021 Triple Crown Trail so you can continue getting ready to make your bets against their Triple Crown odds.

Updated 2021 Triple Crown Betting Predictions

2021 Kentucky Derby

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

In Southwest, Essential Quality will break from the rail

It’s warming up in Arkansas, which means Oaklawn Park can finally run the 2021 Southwest Stakes. One of the most important Kentucky Derby prep races of the year, this year’s Southwest marks the return of Essential Quality, the 2020 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner.

If Essential Quality hopes to win the Southwest, he must work out a trip from the rail. That may not be as easy as horseplayers believe it will be. We take a deeper dive into the race on Friday in our Derby Odds update.

For now, know that top runners Spielberg and Jackie’s Warrior aren’t shying away from the fight. Bob Baffert trains Spielberg and Steve Asmussen puts the saddle on Jackie’s Warrior. Asmussen’s other runner, Saffa’s Day, may also be ready to roll.

Prime Factor versus Greatest Honour rematch in Fountain of Youth

Heading into the Grade 3 Holy Bull, most felt Todd Pletcher trained and last-out maiden winner Prime Factor would roll through his competition. After all, Prime Factor had broken his maiden the easiest of winners.

Also, once Pletcher got a three-year-old going, they often kept improving. But Prime Factor failed in the Holy Bull. The Quality Road sired runner gets another crack at Holy Bull winner Greatest Honour in the Grade 2 Fountain of Youth on Saturday.

Like with the Southwest, we’ll reserve our Kentucky Derby Odds piece for the deep dive. One thing about the Fountain of Youth? It looks deeper than the Southwest. 

In addition to Prime Factor and Greatest Honour, Grade 3 Swale winner Drain the Clock will run. So will Papetu, second-place Holy Bull finisher Tarantino, and 2020 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf winner Fire At Will.

Trainer Chad Brown sending Highly Motivated to the Gotham and wait until the Wood to run Risk Taking

Trainer Chad Brown has found the next starts for two of his stakes winning Triple Crown contenders, Highly Motivated and Risk Taking. Nyquist winner Highly Motivated will head to the Gotham Stakes a week from this Saturday on March 6.

Sired by Into Mischief, Highly Motivated won the Nyquist Stakes in his last. He should have no trouble stretching out from 6 ½ furlongs.

Risk Taking is bred to relish 1 ¼ miles. In fact, he’s already won two races at 1 1/8 miles, including the Grade 3 Withers in his last. The Medaglia d’Oro sired equine is from a Distorted Humor mare. 

If he improves in the Grade 1 Wood Memorial on April 3, he could be one of the favorites heading into the Derby. Of Brown’s two Triple Crown runners, Risk Taking has the pedigree and talent to take all three legs. The jury is still out on Highly Motivated.

We should reserve our enthusiasm regarding either until their next starts. Make sure to check out our Derby odds piece on Friday to get a feel for this weekend’s top Kentucky Derby preps.

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