Derby recorded in the history books, attention shifts to Maryland
and the Preakness. The question on everyone's lips is “Does he have
what it takes to win the Triple Crown?” Of course, I'm talking
the Derby favorite who didn't disappoint.
seen how Orb, wisely piloted by Joel Rosario, lingered near the back
of the pack while suicidal fractions were set by Palace Malice up
front. Orb picked it up around the far turn and blew by a tiring
Normandy Invasion to win the roses by 2 ½ lengths. Now it's on to
what could be the most difficult challenge of Orb's career.
to this report,
most of the Derby contenders won't tangle with Orb in the Preakness
and a few will await the Belmont Stakes to take on the champ. Orb's
greatest challengers in the second leg of the Triple Crown may come
from the speedy Goldencents,
or perhaps a newcomer will try to upset the race. Good luck with
that. Since 1984, only three horses that didn't compete in the
Kentucky Derby won the Preakness – Red Bullet, Bernardini and
this point, Orb is the likely favorite for the Preakness Stakes,
unless the public feels that Goldencents will rebound. That doesn't
bode well for Orb. Since 1984, only four favorites have won the
race. Last year, front-running Bodemeister was favored over the
Derby champ I'll Have Another, but was beaten by a heartbreaking
neck. The year before that, Animal Kingdom was rightfully made the
Preakness favorite after his dominating Derby win. While Animal
Kingdom dawdled at the back of the pack during the opening quarters,
the swift, tenacious Shackleford used his tactical speed to sit a
couple of lengths off of the leader. Turning for home, Animal Kingdom
cut into Shackleford's lead with every stride, but he was left with
too much to do. Shack spoiled the Animal's Triple Crown quest by a
dwindling ½ length.
Orb's running style fit the Preakness?
brings us to running styles in the Preakness. There's a wildly held
theory that inside speed rules at Pimlico. Speed defined as a horse
that runs on or within two lengths of the lead. Since 2000, this has
been true half of the time, and only one horse, the pronominal Rachel
Alexandra, wired the field. Six Preakness champs since 2000 proved
that they could sit between fourth and tenth place and still get the
job done. Remember, the 1 3/16 race distance is only half a furlong
shorter (330 feet) than the Kentucky Derby, so a horse that is
suspect to navigate the nine to ten furlong range won't find the
Preakness a cakewalk.
about the tight turns? The turns at Pimlico aren't any tighter than
those at Churchill. Both tracks are a mile oval, but Pimlico is 50
feet narrower and the stretch is 1,152 feet compared to Churchill’s
1,234, so the main concern shouldn't be how our champ corners, but
how quickly he can gun them down in the stretch.
speed is beneficial at Pimlico. Orb customarily likes to sit
mid-pack or further back and unleash his run around the turn. The
colt is learning more with every race, and his jockey remarked that
the horse puts himself where he needs to be in order to win. In the
Florida Derby, Orb sat a little closer to the pace than usual. He
runs his own race and isn't hampered by what is gong on up front.
The good horses do that.
about the jock?
Rosario is hotter than a Scotch Bonnet pepper. He rode the
aforementioned Animal Kingdom to victory in the Dubai World Cup,
broke a 22 year record for the most wins at Keeneland and won the
Kentucky Derby. He has experience riding in the Preakness Stakes,
too. Last year, he piloted Creative Cause to a third place finish,
so he knows what it will take to place Orb into position for the
optimal trip to the winner's circle.
will ride a five race win streak into the Preakness. At this point
there doesn't appear to be chinks in his armor or a rival that comes
close to the talent he's shown. His trainer Shug
McGaughey has navigated this route before, most notably with Easy
Goer, but this time, there's no Sunday Silence in sight.