Kentucky Derby 147 Horse Preview: Essential Quality

Essential Quality trainer Brad Cox has a chance to be the first Louisville-born trainer to win the Kentucky Derby.


LOUISVILLE, Ky (WTVQ) – Back in 2017, Monomoy Girl was added to trainer Brad Cox’s stable.  In 2018, she would win the Kentucky Oaks skyrocketing Cox’s name into the spotlight.  He’s had horses win a lot since then, but that light is never brighter than now.

Cox’s horse ‘Essential Quality’ has opened as the morning line favorite for the 147th Kentucky Derby. Cox has won two Kentucky Oaks and is the reigning Eclipse Award winner.  That award is given out to the nation’s top trainer.

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Now in his first Kentucky Derby, Cox has his eyes set on a new milestone.  He could
become the first Louisville-born trainer to win a Kentucky Derby.

Cox will have two shots to do so Saturday. One of his horses, Mandaloun, will come out of the 7 post and sits at 15-1 odds. Then there’s Essential Quality. He’s the morning line favorite at 2-1.  That’s for good reason. The three year old won the Breeders Cup Juvenile back in November. Then came back to Keeneland in April and won the Bluegrass Stakes. Cox had to wait until the second to last draw to find out where his top horse would come out, but is relieved at where they landed.

“I think the one, I don’t want to use the word. I just don’t know,” says Cox. “She’s had a lot of success.”

Had Essential Quality drawn the post position one, he had a positive spin ready.

“Churchill does have a new gate that’s kinda I think balanced the playing field,” said Cox. “Gives the one a little bit more opportunity for more of a cleaner run. That started last year, so that was the positive spin I was going to take on it if I ended up with the one hole, but I’m fortunate I don’t have to use that excuse or that positive spin.”

While the track may add different features or equipment every year, Cox knows the racing never changes. To win, you need a lot to go your way early.

“You’re just hopeful that your horse breaks well and the horses around you break well. I mean that’s really what it comes down to.”

While the horses make a difference, the jockeys aboard make a difference as well.

“And everybody as far as the jockeys play fair. We’ll see how it goes. You gotta in the Kentucky Derby some racing luck. It’s out of your hands and hopefully it’s with us on Saturday.”

Cox will have to break several more streaks if he’s going to win with Essential Quality.
It’s been 30 years since a Bluegrass Stakes winner won the Derby and 60 year since the 14 had the winner.

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Bryan Kennedy hails from the Bluegrass State. He was born and raised in Owensboro, KY where he graduated from Apollo High School in 2006. Bryan graduated from the University of Kentucky with a degree in Broadcast Journalism and a minor in Spanish in 2010. He also received his master's degree in Sports Media and Branding from Western Kentucky University. While at UK, Bryan was the general manager of the on-campus TV station. He also did sports reporting, anchoring, producing and even the weather for UK Student News Network. While working for UKSNN, he also had the pleasure of covering Coach John Calipari's first press conference when he was introduced as the new head coach of the Kentucky Wildcats; easily one of his favorite moments as a young sports reporter. Before coming to ABC 36, Bryan was a morning anchor and reporter at WXXV News 25, our sister station in Gulfport, MS. He anchored more than four hours of news every day, including morning shows on NBC and Fox. While down south, Bryan had the opportunity to cover the Sugar Bowl, New Orleans Saints and the New Orleans Pelicans. After spending a little more than two years at WXXV, Bryan is extremely excited to return home. In his spare time, Bryan enjoys playing sports, especially rugby. He also enjoys crossfitting and watching sports (obviously). He's extremely excited to cover Central Kentucky. Feel free to say hello and send story ideas