Essential Quality rallies to win Belmont Stakes

AP photo by Eduardo Munoz Alvarez / Essential Quality jockey Luis Saez celebrates after riding the Brad Cox-trained horse to victory in the 153rd running of the Belmont Stakes on Saturday in Elmont, N.Y.

NEW YORK - Brad Cox insisted he wasn't sitting around waiting or worrying about whether a disqualification of Bob Baffert's Kentucky Derby winner would give him his first victory in a Triple Crown race.

Essential Quality captured the Belmont Stakes on Saturday to make sure Cox wouldn't need to wait a second longer to have that distinction.

The striking gray colt who was bet down 6-5 as the favorite passed early leader Hot Rod Charlie around the final turn and charged ahead to the wire to win the 1 1/2-mile race with a $1 million purse in front of 11,238 mostly maskless fans at Belmont Park.

Cox, the 41-year-old trainer from Louisville, could be a Kentucky Derby champion with Mandaloun if Baffert-trained Medina Spirit is disqualified for failing his drug test after that May 1 race at Churchill Downs.