Godolphin’s undefeated homebred Essential Quality, the champion 2-year-old male of 2020, had a relatively busy morning at Keeneland in advance of Saturday’s $800,000 Toyota Blue Grass (G2) in which he is the 3-5 morning line favorite.
About 8:15 a.m., Essential Quality, with Elver Vargas aboard, jogged to the starting gate accompanied by trainer Brad Cox’s assistant Tessa Bisha aboard stable pony Banana. The Tapit colt then galloped a mile.
“Going to the gate is something we do a few days before the race,” Cox said. “It emulates race day and reminds them to stay settled, wait behind the gate and stand in the gate.”
After cooling out at the barn, Essential Quality was led around the Saddling Paddock around 10:30 a.m.
Other Toyota Blue Grass entrants had activity this morning. At Keeneland:
BBN Racing's Hidden Stash worked 3 furlongs in :37.20 with trainer Vicki Oliver aboard when the track opened for training at 5:30 a.m.
Klaravich Stables' Highly Motivated, who arrived at Keeneland Wednesday afternoon, galloped under exercise rider Peter Roman. The Chad Brown trainee is scheduled for a Paddock schooling session with horses in Friday's second race.
The Joseph P. Morey Jr. Revocable Trust's Hush of a Storm galloped on the main track for trainer Billy Morey.
Cypress Creek Equine, Arnold Bennewith and Spendthrift Farm's Keepmeinmind arrived at Keeneland at 11 p.m. Wednesday from Oaklawn Park and walked the shedrow for trainer Robertino Diodoro. Keepmeinmind is scheduled to go the track after 9 a.m. Friday.
John and Diane Fradkin's Rombauer galloped at 6 a.m. with Brian O'Leary aboard for trainer Michael McCarthy.
Team Valor International's Untreated galloped early under Amelia Green, assistant to trainer Todd Pletcher. After training hours, he schooled in the Paddock along with Shadwell Stable's Malathaat, the morning line favorite for Saturday's Central Bank Ashland (G1).
Bonne Chance Farm's Leblon galloped at The Thoroughbred Center in Lexington for trainer Paulo Lobo.
Albaugh Family Stables' Sittin On Go galloped at Churchill Downs for trainer Dale Romans.