Godolphin celebrated a Group 1 treble on Saturday when Essential Quality and Althiqa followed up Adayar’s success in the English Derby with triumphs at Belmont in New York.
The Brad Cox-trained Essential Quality redeemed for his failed bid at the Kentucky Derby in May with the Belmont Stakes win, while Althiqa came home first for Charlie Appleby in the Just A Game Stakes to take Godolphin’s Group 1 tally to seven for the year.
Essential Quality broke cleanly for Luis Saez to come from the middle of the eight-runner race to win by a length and-a-quarter on the line from Red Hot Charlie and the Preakness Stakes winner Rombauer in third, a further 11-and-a-quarter-lengths back.
“That was a long way round there going a mile and a half but it was exciting,” Cox told godolphin.com.
“I thought the pace benefited our horse. Hot Rod Charlie ran a tremendous race and I think we were in a good spot with the hot pace, where they would come back.
“Luis did a fantastic job of getting Essential Quality into position turning for home and he was able to really show his stamina late. It looked like Hot Rod Charlie still had running left, so I knew that it was going to be a battle down the lane.
“Right now, I think Essential Quality is the best three-year-old in the country. That was a tremendous race.
“I want to thank Sheikh Mohammed [bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai]. He has been supporting us for the last two years and Godolphin is a tremendous organisation, a world-class organisation.
“We wouldn’t be here without this great horse and his support, so I really want to thank him.”
Saez pointed out he was “so confident” for the Kentucky Derby. “He was ready for that day but we had a little unlucky start and got bumped,” he said.
“Today, the main thing was trying to break clean and I knew that he was going to do the rest.
“I had a feeling about Essential Quality the first time I rode him. I have been riding a lot of good horses but when he won the Breeders’ Futurity pretty easily, I was excited.
“I know that he has a lot of talent and he was my first Breeders’ Cup winner, so he is more special than anything.”
Appleby enjoyed a second Group 1 success hours after landing the British Classic when Althiqa under Mike Smith produced a late run to win from stablemate Summer Romance with Saez in the saddle.
“We are delighted with both Althiqa and Summer Romance and it is great to get a Group 1 victory with a homebred filly,” Appleby said.
“Althiqa is as tough as old boots and deserved to get her head in front at this level, while Summer Romance lost nothing in defeat.
“They had both won Group 2 races at the Dubai World Cup Carnival, so it’s nice to see the form get franked so strongly. We might potentially keep them out in the USA for the time being and have a look at the Group 1 Diana Stakes at Saratoga next month.”