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Essential Quality Wins Belmont Stakes

Essential Quality, with jockey Luis Saez, crosses the finish line to win the 153rd running of the Belmont Stakes horse race on Saturday at Belmont Park in Elmont, N.Y.
Essential Quality, with jockey Luis Saez, crosses the finish line to win the 153rd running of the Belmont Stakes horse race on Saturday at Belmont Park in Elmont, N.Y.

A horse named Essential Quality won the Belmont Stakes on Saturday, a first Triple Crown win for trainer Brad Cox.

The gray colt was a favorite to win among gamblers ahead of the race.

Essential Quality passed early leader Hot Rod Charlie around the final turn to win by 1 1/4 lengths, according to The Associated Press, picking up winnings of $1 million.

"Our horse really showed his stamina, talent and stamina, the last quarter mile, which we've always suspected he had," Cox told reporters after the race.

"We've always thought that he was a horse with the talent and the ability and the stamina to get the mile and a half."

Essential Quality's jockey, Luis Saez, said: "Today the main thing was to try to break clean, the rest (of the race) I know he was going to do it," Reuters reported.

Cox could still retroactively win another race in the three-race Triple Crown —the Kentucky Derby. Cox trained Mandaloun, who finished that race in second place. The Derby winner, Medina Spirit, failed two tests for banned substances, but officials have yet to announce whether Medina Spirit will be disqualified, which would elevate Mandaloun to the win.

Churchill Downs, the site of the Kentucky Derby, announced the suspension on Wednesday of Medina Spirit's trainer, Bob Baffert, for two years. Any trainer affiliated with his stables is also banned from entering horses in races operated by Churchill Downs.

Essential Quality is owned by Dubai ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum. Human rights lawyers have attempted to have him banned from entering horses in the Kentucky Derby over alleged human rights violations, including the disappearance of one of his daughters.

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