Essential Quality wins 153rd Belmont Stakes, edging out Hot Rod Charlie


Essential Quality, the favorite heading into the 153rd Belmont Stakes on Saturday, came out on top to win the final leg of the Triple Crown after a close race. 

Hot Rod Charlie took an early lead in the 1.5-mile long race but Essential Quality rounded the final turn to win by just a length-and-a-half. Preakness winner Rombauer finished third.

Belmont Park is home to the final and longest race on the Triple Crown trail, which was altered in 2020 in part because of the pandemic. 

Essential Quality’s win follows controversial news from earlier this week that Churchill Downs suspended legendary horse trainer Bob Baffert for two years following the confirmation of the positive drug test for Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit. 

Baffert was temporarily suspended from entering horses in the Belmont Stakes by the New York Racing Association last month. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report.