Race of the Week 2017

Orb will Face Obstacles in his Quest for the Crown

Orb arrives at Belmont Park (5-5-13).
Photo: NYRA, Adam Coglianese
On the day after the Kentucky Derby, I find myself agreeing with seemingly everybody in my excitement over Orb. He was the class of the Derby, there should be no doubt about that. He looked like the best horse in the flesh during Kentucky Derby week and he lived up to his appearance in spades by winning America’s most prestigious race in style. His 2 ½ length score under the famed twin spires of Churchill Downs was both deserving and authoritative. All this opens the door for the inevitable talk of a potential quest for the ever-elusive Triple Crown. While it happens on the first Sunday of every May, Orb’s marvelous coming to age over the last few months, combined with his relative place among the 2013 three-year-old crop, gives us all a much more realistic hope for two more big wins in a short period of time this year, as compared to most other years in recent memory. With the excitement over a potential Triple Crown firmly in place, it’s time to look ahead at what stands between Orb and immortality.

Unlike most, the Preakness is not the race that scares me the most. Everyone saw his powerful rally in the Derby and many have and will jump to the conclusion that this rally will translate to an automatic victory in the 1 ½ mile Belmont Stakes in June, and therefore the shorter Preakness will be the real test. History shows us otherwise.

Since Affirmed won the Triple Crown in 1978, only two horses, Swale in 1984 and Thunder Gulch in 2001, have completed the Kentucky Derby and Belmont Stakes double. In the same timeframe, no less than 12 horses have won both the Kentucky Derby and Preakness. While it is true that a few Derby winners have skipped the Belmont after losing their chance to make history with a loss in the Preakness, this overwhelming six-to-one ratio would seem to clearly point out that the Belmont is the more difficult task for Derby winners rather than the Preakness. What is the cause for the is phenomena and will Orb fit in with the norm?

The biggest reason is the obvious physical toll that the quest for a Triple Crown takes on our best three-year-olds and the monumental task their conditioners are asked to keep them at their very best over the entire series. And it is not just the five weeks of the Triple Crown that we are talking about. Every sophomore good enough to make the Derby is pointed for the singular race, and prepared to peak on Derby Day. Orb is a perfect example. He has never looked better than he does right now, and clearly trainer, Shug McGaughey did a fantastic job in preparing his charge for the Derby. Mission accomplished. Orb won the Kentucky Derby.

Now, like those dozen horses before him, I expect Orb to carry over this excellent form to Baltimore in 13 days. Put another way, I consider it more than likely for Orb to be able to carry the same dominance he displayed at Churchill Downs directly to Pimlico over such a short timeframe. He is the best today, and he is likely to be best on May 18. And make no mistake, at 1 3/16 miles, the distance of the Preakness is anything but too short for Orb to score another big win. The amount of good Derby horses that will skip the Preakness to lay and wait for the Belmont, horses like Revolutionary, also play to Orb’s chances to annex the Middle Jewel.

Then it will be on to Belmont, and that is where the test becomes more difficult, separating the great ones from the good ones. It’s difficult for horses to stay razor sharp over five, six, seven weeks or more. It’s difficult for stretch runners to be asked to kick in their powerful late runs after ten furlongs has already been run, and usually after slow early fractions seen in most Belmont Stakes. It’s difficult to not be a little tired for the race horses of today after such a demanding spring. I see Orb as a horse like Pleasant Colony and Alysheba. They were also powerful stretch runners who put it all together at the right time. Pleasant Colony and Alysheba were excellent horses that arrived to New York from Baltimore oh so very close to pulling off racing’s holy grail. For them, it was not to be. Can Orb do what they could not?

Yes America, we can get excited. Orb is a horse who could become racing’s first Triple Crown winner in 35 years, but for all of the above reasons, I am expecting the Belmont, rather than the Preakness, to be the one that we all have to worry about.



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Older Comments about Orb will Face Obstacles in his Quest for the Crown...

Sully, since Sunday Silence is otherwise occupied I am really curious as to the name of this wonder horse that will beat Orb. I've got 2nd and 3rd covered I believe, but if an upset is coming someone tell me now please.
  • Sully · Don't worry, Icy. I'm never shy about posting my picks. Bit early for that now though. And I'm not saying Orb can't win. But the price we'll get, I can assure you I'll be looking elsewhere. Sunday Silence isn't occupied with anything, btw. · 1658 days ago
  • Sully · Hey, Icy. Departing; Orb; Will Take Charge; Mylute. There's your wonder horse that will improve. · 1651 days ago
FASHION: He has it and i MUST have it too...I've seen it so much I could vomit
If someone really wanted to beat Orb they'd slow down on the lead.
So the t_v *logic* is “on any given day over95% of the stock running are running on the same crap, furosemide”... therefore>>” Can't make any discernable difference. “???? So why does everyone use it?
Regardless of one's beliefs about Lasix....Orb is indeed 5-for-5, but not due to Lasix; he was not given the med as a two y/o, yet won his final start (as a 2 y/o) on 11/24/12 without it. That was the beginning of his 5 race winning streak. He has won without Lasix. http://www.equibase.com/premium/eqbPDFChartPlus.cfm?BORP=P&STYLE=EQB&DAY=D&tid=AQU&dt=11/24/2012&ctry=USA&race=2
Searching for correlation...it is not there but don't tell this guy that on any given day over95% of the stock running are running on the same crap, furosemide....Can't make any discernable difference.
Orb(I believe) is 5-for-5 on Lasix, nada without it. It seems that it has enhanced his performance?
Why? It's not a performance enhancer, is it?
Take that back, do have a comment for TV. Hope Departing beats him with that lasix.
Ok cugel, let's play fun facts. Easy Goer was 3 for 6 lifetime when returning in 2 weeks or less. For the statistical enthusiast, that's 50%. Before the derby, he was 2 for 2 under these circumstances. That means he was 1 for 4 throughout the remainder of his career which were all in G1 races. Now, let's not forget these were completely different times where it was much more usual for a horse to return after 2 weeks rest. Orb also broke his maiden on 2 weeks rest (you apparently didn't know that because you didn't mention it). Again, as I said, very beatable. Can he win, yes, but the price you will get, "very beatable." Never said he can't win. TV, no comment.
Well, we all know the Belmont is gruler..Have towait and see thePreakness first to make a reasonable judgment...but with his trainer and blueblood breeding, if he wins the Preakness convincingly...Then I feel he cn handle the belmont distance better than most who are out there at least this years crop it looks that way we will just have to wait and see what he does next out...If anybody cn do it it's not only the horse but his great trainer behind him
fijate rosario va botando el caballo ..los otros jockeys no..orb.
Nothing I have seen from this horse says he won't win The Preakness, or the Belmont, but one race at a time.
No, speed duels occur when two or more horses are campaigning for the lead. This was just Palace Malice being let go by Mike Smith and not being reeled in because of Verrazano, Goldencents and Falling Sky who were almost pressing the pace
There was technically a speed duel .
True cocoa.
jmac, they already tried that in the Florida Derby. Remind me how it went? Now you're really bugging me
I agree with Mike in SB. Shug knows how to train and has brought this horse along perfectly. He has corrected issues such as rearing in the gate and other problems. He was lathered at the start of the Florida Derby and was cool as a cucumber at the Derby. Shug had said he was working on this issue with him.
Shug trained Easy Goer to win the Wood then in two weeks run a great Derby, two weeks later to almost win the Preakness and three weeks later to win the Belmont by 5 lengths. Later in the year Easy Goer won the Whitney and two weeks later won the Travers. Shug knows how to train horses to win on two weeks rest.
As always they will be gunning for the winner of the Derby, just as much fame at stake for winning the Preakness for all horses.

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