Belmont win not only crown for Brennan

Jockey Luis Saez reacts after crossing the finish line atop Essential Quality (2) to win the 153rd running of the Belmont Stakes horse race, Saturday, June 5, 2021, At Belmont Park in Elmont, N.Y. (AP Photo/Eduardo Munoz Alvarez)

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Posted June 7, 2021 | By Carlos Medina,

Jockey Luis Saez reacts after crossing the finish line atop Essential Quality (2) to win the 153rd running of the Belmont Stakes horse race on June 5, at Belmont Park in Elmont, N.Y. (AP Photo/Eduardo Munoz Alvarez)


It was a heck of a week for Niall Brennan. On Friday, he celebrated the birth of his first grandson. A day later, Essential Quality, a graduate of his Ocala training operation, won the Belmont Stakes.

“People have been calling congratulating me. I don’t know if it’s for the baby or the Belmont. It’s been an exciting week,” said Brennan, who last week also celebrated his 60th birthday.

He got to share his second Belmont Stakes win with the newest addition to the family.

“I watched the Belmont at the hospital holding the baby in my arms. It was special,” he said.

The baby was born to Kaylynne and Brennan’s son Colin, who also works in the thoroughbred business.

“With any luck we could have another generation join the horse business. This is the place to do it in Ocala, Florida,” said Brennan, referring to Marion County’s prominence in training and breeding thoroughbreds.

Five of the eight horses that ran in the Belmont received their early training locally.

In the race at Belmont Park in New York, Essential Quality, the heavy 6-5 favorite passed early leader Hot Rod Charlie around the final turn and charged ahead to the wire to win the 1 1/2-mile $1 million race in front of 11,238 fans.

Essential Quality paid $4.60 to win, $3 to place and $2.60 to show. Preakness winner Rombauer – who received his early training at Ocala’s Eddie Woods Stables – was third and Known Agenda – another Woods’ pupil – finished fourth.

The Belmont win was also vindication for Essential Quality who was the favorite in the Kentucky Derby. Essential Quality finished fourth in the Derby after a rough trip in the 20-horse field. Marion County-bred Medina Spirit won the Derby. After the race, however, the colt tested positive for a banned substance. Churchill Downs officials may disqualify the horse.

“It’s very nice to be associated with a classic winner. (In the Derby) he got a wide trip. According to the trackers, that day he went 68 feet further than the winner. He was only beaten by a length (about 8 or 9 feet). That’s racing and that’s the Derby. I think it was great that he got a measure of redemption.”

Brennan was also happy that the colt’s owner, Godolphin, which is run by Dubai ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, scored its first classic winner. For years Sheikh Mohammed has invested millions into the sport but until Saturday fell short of winning one of the three jewels of the Triple Crown.

“They put an awful amount into the sport. It’s great to see them get rewarded. We’re just happy to be a part of that,” said Brennan, who breaks yearlings for Godolphin.

Brennan said Essential Quality was a good student when he had him.

“He had a very good mind. Some of them can be a little cantankerous. He had a very good demeanor,” he said. “He was smart and professional early on. He was very focused and took that on right away He always trained very well.”

With the win, Essential Quality has won six of his seven races and earned more than $3.2 million.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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