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Essential Quality wins 2021 Belmont Stakes

Essential Quality has won the 2021 Belmont Stakes, finishing off this year's Triple Crown races. Essential Quality came into the race as the favorite at 9-5 odds while Rombauer, the Preakness Stakes winner, was given 6-1 odds just prior to post time.

The Belmont Stakes resumed its usual place as the final leg of the Triple Crown this year after it was held as the first of the three races in 2020, when the coronavirus pandemic caused the order to change. The race at Belmont Park also returned to its typical length of 1.5 miles after being shortened to 1.125 miles last year. Attendance for this year's race had initially been capped at 11,000 spectators to comply with New York coronavirus restrictions that limit venue capacity to 33%, however, those restrictions have since been relaxed. 

153rd Belmont Stakes
Luis Saez celebrates atop Essential Quality after winning the 153rd running of the Belmont Stakes at Belmont Park on June 05, 2021 in Elmont, New York. / Getty Images

There was no chance of a Triple Crown winner this year after Medina Spirit failed to win the Preakness Stakes. Medina Spirit's Kentucky Derby win is also in jeopardy after the horse failed two post-race drug tests. Should Medina Spirit's win be vacated, runner-up Mandaloun would become the winner. Mandaloun did not compete in the Preakness Stakes.

Shortly after the Preakness Stakes, the New York Racing Association announced that Medina Spirit trainer Bob Baffert was temporarily suspended, preventing him from entering any horses in the 2021 Belmont Stakes. He has since been banned by Churchill Downs, the racetrack where the Kentucky Derby is run, for two years.

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