Photo: Eclipse Spotswire
Fact - In the past 41 editions, only one horse has won the Preakness from the #1 post position. Fact - Orb will break from that #1 post position in the Preakness. So the question becomes: did Orb’s chances to move one step closer to Triple Crown immortality change significantly for the worse with the unlucky pull of a pill?
My answer, as simply stated as possible, is no, yes, no, yes, and no.
No Worries - Orb has already done well from a rail post position, having won the Fountain of Youth Stakes from the #1 hole. Coincidentally, in that race in which he methodically wore down Violence, it was also a field of nine just like the Preakness.
Troublesome - There has to be something to the lack of success for the #1 post in the Preakness. On paper, you would think it is not the most ideal spot, but for Tabasco Cat to be the only winner in the last 41 years is not only surprising futility, but it also has to give anyone who believes Orb to be near a sure thing, cause for pause.
Clear Sailing - With bona-fide speed horses like Goldencents and Titletown Five in the next two spots in the starting gate, the likelihood of Orb being bothered early on is small. Joel Rosario should be able let those two zoom by early and get his mount a comfortable and ground saving trip into the first turn. From there, the pair should have plenty of time to maneuver for a clear run in the 1 3/16 mile race.
Race Riding 101 - Given that Orb is the horse they all have to beat in the run for the Black-Eyed Susans, the riders of his competition may make a real effort to keep the heavy favorite pinned down to the rail for as long as possible, thereby giving their mount a better chance to spring a classic upset.
Not so Fast, My Friends - To the casual fan, drawing the rail is thought to be the kiss of death. I attribute much of this thinking to the fact that such a big deal is made about it for the Kentucky Derby. They are totally different animals, though. The chance for traffic issues in the 20 horse Derby field is considerably magnified as compared to a normal field size like the one in the Preakness. Horses win from the one-hole routinely on any given day … although, that 1-for-41 stat still lingers.
In the end, we all hope for a safe trip for all, and that the best horse wins, which would be good news for Orb.
But just in case you believe that the rail draw of Orb is a big problem ... my second pick, Departing, and my top long shot, Oxbow, both drew perfectly in the four and six spots respectively.