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Belmont Stakes


Essential Quality wins the Belmont, courtesy of Belmont (NYRA/Coglianese Photo)
By Nancy Brannon

The third jewel in the Triple Crown was run on the first Saturday in June (5th), 2021 at Belmont Park in Elmont, NY.  The 1½ mile race is the longest of the three races. Attendance for the 153rd running of the Belmont was limited to 11,000 spectators, with attendees required to provide proof of their COVID-19 vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test. NBC provided television coverage of the race.

There will be no Triple Crown winner this year, as Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit failed two post-race drug tests and finished third in the Preakness. Trainer Bob Baffert has been suspended by the NYRA from running any horses in races in the state of New York. 

At only half of the maximum field size, just eight horses were entered to vie for the 2021 Belmont Stakes, listed by their post position:

(1) Bourbonic, owned by Calumet Farms, trained by Todd Pletcher, ridden by Kendrick Carmouche
(2) Essential Quality, owned by Godolphin, trained by Brad Cox, ridden by Luis Saez
(3) Romkbauer, owned by John and Diane Fradkin, trained by Michael McCarthy, ridden by John Velazquez
(4) Hot Rod Charlie, owned by Roadrunner Racing, Boat Racing, Strauss Bros. Racing, and Gainesway Thoroughbreds; trained by Doug O’Neill; ridden by Flavien Prat
(5) France Go de Ina, owned by Yuji Inaida, trained by Hideyuki Mori, ridden by Ricardo Santana Jr.
(6) Known Agenda, owned by St. Elias Stable, trained by Todd Pletcher, ridden by Jose Ortiz.
(7) Rock Your World, owned by Hronis Racing and David Michael Talla; trained by John W. Sadler; ridden by Joel Rosario
(8) Overtook, owned by Repole Stable, St. Elias Stable, Michael B. Tabor, Mrs. John Magnier, and Derrick Smith; trained by Todd Pletcher; ridden by Manny Franco

Irad Ortiz Jr. was scheduled to ride Known Agenda in the Belmont, but on Thursday June 3, he was injured in a spill at Belmont Park.

From the Paulick Report: “… jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. was placed on a flat board and transported to a hospital via ambulance following a spill in Thursday’s fifth race at Belmont Park, according to NYRA analyst and former champion jockey Richard Migliore.

“Ortiz’s mount, Equal Pay, stumbled in the stretch and unseated the rider in the path of oncoming horses. The 3-year-old filly, who was making her first career start, did not appear injured as she regained her stride and finished the race before being collared by an outrider.

“NYRA's public relations man Keith McCalmont Tweeted that Ortiz is ‘awake and alert, moving all extremities, and will be transported to local hospital for further evaluation.’

“Late Thursday night, Jose Ortiz Tweeted a photo of his brother saying that X-rays were clean and that he would be back ‘in a couple weeks.’”

The Race
Blue Grass Stakes winner and Kentucky Derby favorite Essential Quality topped the field of eight to win the Belmont Stakes, beating Hot Rod Charlie by 1¼ lengths and giving trainer Brad Cox his first Triple Crown race win. Brad Cox is the reigning Eclipse Award winner for Outstanding Trainer.

Hot Rod Charlie took the lead out of the starting gate, with Rock Your World on the outside with Japan’s France Go de Ina among the early leaders. Hot Rode Charlie set a fast pace taking the first ¼ mile in 22.78 seconds. Leaders Hot Rod Charlie and Rock Your World continued the fast pace with a 46.49 half mile. But near the ¾ mile mark, fans could see Essential Quality moving up quickly on the outside. He was four-wide as they made their move into the far turn. Around the far turn, Essential Quality continued making progress and now it was Hot Rod Charlie, Rock Your World, and Essential Quality three-wide with Hot Rod Charlie still in the lead. At the top of the stretch, Essential Quality made his move on the outside of Hot Rod Charlie. Into the stretch it was Essential Quality and Hot Rod Charlie putting on a match race with only a furlong to the finish. Essential Quality pulled ahead to win the Belmont Stakes!

Hot Rod Charlie, ridden by Flavien Prat, was second; Rombauer, ridden by John Velazquez, was third; and Known Agenda, ridden by Jose Ortiz, was fourth.

Essential Quality is a 2018 Kentucky-bred gray colt by Tapit out of Delightful Quality. He was bred by and is owned by Godolphin, LLC.

Read the full account of the race at:


Contenders. Also see facebook: Belmont Stakes

Paulick Report Staff. 2021. “IradOrtiz Jr. Escapes Serious Injury In Belmont Spill.” Paulick Report. June 3.

Bohl, Brian. 2021. “Essential Quality outkicks pacesetter Hot Rod Charlie to win 153rd edition of G1 Belmont Stakes.” Belmont Stakes Recap. June 5.

Essential Quality. Bloodhorse.

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