Essential Quality fights off Hot Rod Charlie to win Belmont Stakes

Essential Quality outran Hot Rod Charlie during a stretch duel to capture the 153rd running of the Belmont Stakes on Saturday at Belmont Park in Elmont, N.Y.

Trainer Brad Cox notched his first victory in a Triple Crown race, though his Mandaloun could be named winner of this year’s Kentucky Derby after Bob Baffert-trained Medina Spirit tested positive for a banned substance following the race.

Hot Rod Charlie and jockey Flavien Prat employed a fast, early pace and led well into the far turn. Essential Quality, the 6-5 favorite ridden by Luis Saez, moved up from mid-pack with about a half-mile to go.

The two 3-year-old colts pulled away from the field and battled down the stretch before Essential Quality hit the wire in front.

Essential Quality
Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

Essential Quality posted a winning time of 2:27.11 for the 1 1/2 miles. He paid $4.60, $3.00 and $2.60. The Godolphin-owned colt won the 2020 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and the Eclipse Award last year as best 2-year-old.

Hot Rod Charlie, who went off at 9-2, finished second. Preakness Stakes winner Rombauer, ridden by John Velazquez, was third, ahead of Known Agenda and Jose Ortiz.

The $1.5 million race was run before an estimated crowd of 11,000 fans.

–Field Level Media (@FieldLevelMedia)