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NEW YORK — Favorite Essential Quality won the Belmont Stakes on Saturday to give trainer Brad Cox his first victory in a Triple Crown race — maybe.

Cox could get another from Mandaloun in the Kentucky Derby if Bob Baffert-trained Medina Spirit is disqualified. But Cox was able to enjoy this one with Essential Quality being Hot Rod Charlie by 1 1/4 lengths.

Essential Quality, who went off as the 6-5 favorite, passed early leader Hot Rod Charlie around the final turn and held on to win the 1 1/2-mile $1 million race.

“That was a long way around there a mile a half but it was exciting,” Cox said. “It looked like the horse on the inside, he still had run left. I knew it was going to be a battle down the line.”

Preakness winner Rombauer was third and Known Agenda fourth.

The striking gray finished fourth as a beaten favorite in the Kentucky Derby because of a rough trip. Essential Quality showed in the Belmont why he has long been considered one of the top 3-year-olds in the country.

Backdooring his way to becoming the first Louisville-born trainer to win the Kentucky Derby didn’t allow Cox the same joy of victory as the Belmont, which the up-and-coming star will likely remember as his first true Triple Crown triumph.

And Cox saw this coming. He predicted last summer that Essential Quality would be his horse for the Belmont.

Essential Quality had plenty of stamina to beat a tough field of seven other horses.

Jockey Luis Saez won a Triple Crown race for the first time. He was aboard Maximum Security when they crossed the finish line first in the 2019 Derby, but was disqualified for impeding other horses.

“Luis did a fantastic job of getting him in position turning for home and he was able to really show his stamina late,” Cox said.

Saez said Belmont was his “second home,” adding, “This was the race I wanted to win.”

United Arab Emirates ruler Sheik Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum owns Essential Quality.

Cox made it a point to thank him moments after the Belmont.

“Sheik Mohammed, he’s been supporting us the last two years and this is a tremendous organization, world-class organization and we wouldn’t be here obviously without this horse and his support, so I just wanted to really thank him,” Cox said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Wyshynski: My picks for every series in the 2024 Stanley Cup playoffs

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Wyshynski: My picks for every series in the 2024 Stanley Cup playoffs

Before each season, I predict who will win the Stanley Cup. I predict who they will defeat for the Stanley Cup.

Both the champion and the runner up from those preseason predictions for 2023-24 qualified for the 2024 Stanley Cup playoffs. Rather than hedge or waver against that prognostication, I actually see a path for both of them in this tournament. Call it delusional, call it stubborn, call it hubris — I’m sticking with them.

Here is how the Stanley Cup playoffs will play out, from the opening round through the last game of the Final. I apologize in advance for spoiling the next two months for you, as obviously all of this is going to happen exactly to script and none of these picks will be incorrect.

Please enjoy the best postseason tournament in all of sports, no matter how it actually plays out.

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Rocky flight: FAA probes MLB coach’s video post

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Rocky flight: FAA probes MLB coach's video post

The Federal Aviation Administration and United Airlines are investigating an incident involving the Colorado Rockies during a chartered flight from Denver to Toronto.

In a since-deleted video posted to social media, Rockies hitting coach Hensley Meulens is seen sitting in a pilot’s seat in the cockpit while the plane is in flight.

“Had some fun in the cockpit on our flight from Denver to Toronto. Thanks to the captain and the first officer of our United charter that allowed me this great experience,” Meulens wrote in a caption for the social media post.

A United spokesperson said the airline was conducting its own investigation of the April 10 flight. The airline said the cockpit visit was “a clear violation of our safety and operational policies” and was reported to the Federal Aviation Administration.

“We’re deeply disturbed by what we see in that video, which appears to show an unauthorized person in the flight deck at cruise altitude while the autopilot was engaged,” United spokesperson Russell Carlton said.

The pilots on the flight have been withheld from service while the airline investigates, Carlton said.

A spokesman for the FAA said it does not “comment on the details of open investigations” but noted that “federal regulations restrict flight deck access to specific individuals.”

Rockies manager Bud Black said Friday that Meulens apologized to the organization and United Airlines.

“I can’t comment really any further because of the investigation of the matter,” Black said, according to The Denver Post. He also said the incident won’t impact Meulens’ employment.

Meulens is in his second year as the team’s hitting coach. He has previously served as a coach and manager for the Dutch national team.

Colorado (4-15) has lost five straight, including its final two games against the Blue Jays.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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Rockies put Freeland on IL due to strained elbow

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Rockies put Freeland on IL due to strained elbow

The Colorado Rockies placed left-hander Kyle Freeland on the 15-day injured list Friday with a left elbow strain.

The move is retroactive to Tuesday.

Freeland appeared to injure his right shoulder while attempting to score the go-ahead run in the ninth inning Monday against the Philadelphia Phillies. Manager Bud Black, however, said Freeland was “fine” after the game.

Freeland, 30, has limped to a 0-3 record with a 13.21 ERA in four games (all starts) this season. He is 55-68 with a 4.53 ERA in 188 career games (183 starts) with the Rockies.

Also on Friday, Colorado recalled right-hander Noah Davis from Triple-A Albuquerque.

Davis, 26, owns a 0-2 record with a 6.62 ERA in four games (all starts) with the Isotopes. He is 0-4 with a 9.00 ERA in nine career games (six starts) with the Rockies.

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