In Saturday's Fountain of Youth Stakes (G-2) at Gulfstream Park, Orb settled comfortably near the back of the pack for jockey John Velazquez. Meanwhile, MAJESTIC HUSSARclicked of strong fractions on the lead, taking the field through a half mile in :45.45 and a half in 1:08.85. Turning for home, Magic Hussar shortened stride and was immediately pounced on by VIOLENCE. The morning line favorite opened up on the field and appeared headed for victory. But not so fast. Orb, flying four wide around the turn, caught up to Violence in deep stretch and after encountering mild resistance from Violence, Orb defeated his rival by ½ length.
Violence, making his first start since his December victory in the CashCall Futurity, was 6 ¾ lengths clear of the third place finisher SPEAK LOGISTICS . This was the second concurrent year since 2004 that the Fountain of Youth was contested at its traditional distance of 1 1/6 miles. Orb's final time of 1:42.24 was a tick faster than last year's race time of 1:42.68, set by Union Rags. Sadly, Violence incurred a fractured sesamoid in his right front ankle and is off of the Triple Crown trail. Watch the race here.
Trained by Claude “Shug” McGaughey, III, Orb won his maiden last November by two lengths over a nice field that included Withers Stakes (G-3) victor Revolutionary. In his first start of the year, Orb came from off of the pace at Gulfstream Park to win an 1 1/8 mile allowance contest at Gulfstream Park. Orb has compiled a 6-3-0-1 ($321,050) race record and earned 50 points on the Derby Points trail, second only to Risen Star victor I've Struck A Nerve, who has 51 points.
Bred and owned by Stuart Janney, III, and Phipps Stable, ORB (Malibu Moon - Lady Liberty, by Unbridled) is a member of racing royalty. Originally started in 1925 as Wheatley Stable, the patriarch of the family, Ogden Phipps changed the racing entity's name to Phipps Stables in the 1980's to continue the family name. The stable has had a long, close relationship with Claiborne Farm and the majority of their racing stock retire to Claiborne. Some of the legends bred, raised and raced by the Phipps family include Buckpasser, Belmont Stakes hero Easy Goer (trained by McGaughey), the undefeated Personal Ensign, Inside Information and Storm Flag Flying. The heroic Ruffian was also bred by this family.
Orb's sire MALIBU MOON, a son of A.P. Indy out of the French Group 1 winner Macoumba, was a very precocious youngster, which is rare for offspring of A.P. Indy. The dark bay colt raced only twice. He placed second in his debut in late April of his two year old season. A month later he beat maidens going five furlongs on the dirt at Hollywood Park. Unfortunately, Malibu Moon’s promising career was cut short due to a slab fracture of his right knee.
Malibu Moon started his breeding career in Maryland at Country Life Farm where he stood for $3,000. In his first crop, the well-bred stallion sired ten blacktype runners and his daughter Moon Thistle won the Russian Derby (Gr.1, 1 ½ miles, turf). The following year, along came 2004 Champion Two Year Old Declan’s Moon and Grade 1 sprinter Malibu Mint. Four years later, Malibu Moon moved to the big leagues in Kentucky. To date, the stallion has sired one champion and 26 graded stakes winners and 66 stakes winners. His progeny win at all distances and over all surfaces. Seven of his offspring have won at 1 ¼ miles or farther, including CCA Oaks winners Devil May Care and Funny Moon, Personal Ensign Handicap heroine Ask The Moon, and Delaware Handicap winner Life At Ten. All but one of Malibu Moon's winners at 1 ¼ miles are fillies.
Orb's dam LADY LIBERTY faced the starter 23 times. She was a late-developing mare and didn't make it to the races until the spring of her three year old season. After placing four times, Lady Liberty won her maiden going 1 1/8 miles. The daughter of Unbridled was an allowance class runner and went unplaced in eight stakes attempts. After racing for three years, Lady Liberty finished her career with a 23-4-4-4 ($202,045) record.
A young broodmare, Lady Liberty has produced four foals of racing age. Three have raced and Orb is the first to gain stakes earnings. Lady Liberty has a Dixie Union two year old, a War Front yearling and produced a Flatter colt this year.
Orb's second dam Mesabi Maiden (by Cox's Ridge) won the 1 1/8 mile Black Eyed Susan Stakes (G-2) over the good mare Cara Rafaela, who would later foal Classic winner Bernardini. Mesabi Maiden also placed third in the Astarita Stakes (G-2), Monmouth Oaks and Anne Arundel Stakes, Both grade 3 events. None of Mesabi Maiden's offspring earned blacktype and Orb is the first stakes winner in two generations.
Orb's third dam Steel Maiden (by Damascus) won two listed races and was a runner-up in the Black Eyed Susan. Going back a generation, Orb's fourth dam Laughter (by Bold Ruler) was a half sister to one of the best fillies of all time, Ruffian. Travers hero Coronado's Quest, Wood Memorial winner and sire Private Terms and Air Support, a multiple graded stakes turf winner are all descendants of this female family.
Unbridled was the Champion Three Year Old of 1990 after victories in the Kentucky Derby and Breeders' Cup Classic. He's one of the top sires of his generation, but sadly, died at only 14 years of age after a bout with colic. As a sire, Unbridled sired a Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont Stakes winner, plus three Champion fillies. His legacy as a stallion lives on in Empire Maker and Unbridled's Song, his best sons at stud. Broken Vow and Eddington are also popular sons of Unbridled.
As a broodmare sire, Unbridled's daughters have produced 57 stakes winners, including Preakness hero Shackleford, the popular sire Tapit, and Grade 1 winners Dream Rush and Lady Joanne. The later is one of eight winners at 1 ¼ miles or farther who claim Unbridled as their damsire.
UNBRIDLED (Fappiano - Gana Facil, by Le Fabuleux)
Race Record: 24-8-6-6 ($4,489,475)
Champion Three Year Old, 1990
1st – Kentucky Derby (G-1) 1 ¼ miles
1st - 1990 Breeders' Cup Classic (G-1) 1 ¼ miles
1st - Florida Derby (G-1) 1 1/8 miles
2nd – Preakness Stakes (G-1) 1 3/16 miles
2nd – Super Derby (G-1) 1 ¼ miles
2nd – Secretariat Stakes (G-1) 1 ¼ miles, turf
3rd - 1991 Breeders' Cup Classic (G-1) 1 ¼ miles
3rd - Fountain of Youth Stakes (G-2) 1 1/6 miles
3rd - Blue Grass Stakes (G-2) 1 1/8 miles
3rd - Fayette Handicap (G-3) 1 1/8 miles
Orb's second damsire Cox's Ridge was swift enough to win a graded stakes race at seven furlongs and the Met Mile. However, he was best at 1 1/8 miles. He also won at 1 3/16 miles and finished third in the 1 ½ mile Jockey Club Gold Cup in 1977. The son of Best Turn sired 55 stakes winners, including the Champion mare Life's Magic, Champion sprinter Cardmania, and Champion Older Horse Vanlandingham. Cox's Ridge also sired the graded stakes winner and sire Sultry Song. As a broodmare sire, Cox's Ridge is among the leading broodmare sires of route runners in Florida and is within the top 20 leading broodmare sires in Kentucky.
The Malibu Moon/Unbridled bloodline cross has produced seven runners and six winners. Orb is the first stakes winner. Overall, sons of A.P. Indy and Unbridled sire line mares have crossed well. Notable names from this pairing include the popular sire Tapit, Woodford Reserve (G-1) hero General Quarters, Hollywood Derby winner Unbridled Command and Frizette heroine Sky Diva.
Orb is a large, long-bodied, dark-bay colt with the body of a route horse. He is well balanced, with a deep, laid back shoulder and long hip, although he's more on the lean side, rather than muscular.
The son of Malibu Moon has a fluid gait without excess motion. He has correct leg action without wasted movement. A late-developing colt, Orb will likely put on muscle as he matures.
Already a winner at 1 1/8 miles, Orb has the pedigree to handle the demanding distances of the Triple Crown. He prefers to sit near the back of the pack and has the turn of foot to mow them down in the stretch.
The colt's trainer McGaughey is undecided regarding Orb's next start. Logically, he would contest the Florida Derby on March 30, since Orb has already won at Gulfstream Park at the 1 1/8 mile distance. Alternatively, Orb could wait an extra week and show up in the Wood Memorial in New York on April 6. Whichever route he takes to Kentucky, Orb is a colt to keep high on your Derby watch list.