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Essential Quality is 3-5 Blue Grass favorite

HORSE RACING: SEP 05 Kentucky Derby

LOUISVILLE, KY - SEPTEMBER 05: Essential Quality (5) wins race 4 during the 146th Kentucky Derby on September 5, 2020 at Churchill Downs in Louisville, KY. (Photo by Zach Bolinger/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

LEXINGTON, Ky. -- Unbeaten Essential Quality is the 3-5 morning line favorite and will start from the No. 4 post for the $800,000 Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland race course.

The Brad Cox-trained, Eclipse Award-winning colt, who won the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and Breeders’ Futurity last fall at Keeneland, is 4-0 lifetime including a 4\-length win in the Grade 3 Southwest Stakes at Oakland on Feb. 27. Highly Motivated will start the nine-horse, Grade 2 race for 3-year-olds beside Essential Quality as the 7-2 second choice from the No. 3 post. Untreated and Keepmeinmind are the 8-1 third choices from the Nos. 2 and 9 posts respectively.

The 1 1/8-mile race awards 100, 40, 20 and 10 points respectively for the top four for the May 1 Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs. The top 20 points earners during the racing season qualify for the Derby.

The Blue Grass highlights the opening weekend for Keeneland’s spring meet that will feature six graded stakes races worth $2.1 million.

Simply Ravishing is the 5-2 favorite from the No. 3 post for the $400,000 Grade 1 Ashland for fillies, with 170 total points up for grabs towards the Kentucky Oaks on April 30. The top 14 points earners during the racing season qualify for the Oaks. She has three wins and enters with consecutive fourth-place finishes, including last fall’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies.