Orb to tackle Triple Crown

Updated: 2013-05-07 07:13

By Reuters in New York (China Daily)

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 Orb to tackle Triple Crown

Orb, ridden by jockey Joel Rosario, crosses the finish line first in the 139th Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs on Saturday. John Sommers II / Reuters

Derby winner likely to face new-look field in Preakness

The connections of Kentucky Derby winner Orb have already set their sights on trying to complete the Triple Crown after their colt pulled up well from his victory in the first leg.

Shug McGaughey, the Kentucky-based trainer of Orb, wasted no time declaring his intentions to run the three-year-old in the remaining two legs.

Speaking to reporters outside the winner's barn at Churchill Downs on Sunday morning, McGaughey said he was already thinking about the next two races, the Preakness Stakes on May 18 and the Belmont Stakes on June 8.

"I'm looking forward to getting the process going again and seeing what happens and go from there," McGaughey said.

"I said last week that I wished it had happened to me earlier so I didn't have to worry about it anymore, but I'm not sure I believe that now.

"Yesterday was quite a day and today's been quite a day so far. It's been quite, quite a thrill."

McGaughey said Orb was being flown to New York on Sunday and would remain there before being moved to Baltimore next week to finish off his preparations for the Preakness.

It has been 35 years since a horse last completed the Triple Crown. That was Affirmed in 1978 and the wait for another horse to win the three races has been agonizing.

Last year, I'll Have Another won the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness to renew hopes, but was scratched on the eve of the Belmont and never raced again.

What makes the Triple Crown so difficult to win is the makeup and timing of the three races.

They are each held in different states, over different distances, during a span of five weeks. And the winner invariably faces different opposition each time.

It is not uncommon for the horses which finish close behind the winner in the Preakness (1 3/16 mile) to save themselves for the 1 1/2 mile Belmont, the longest and most grueling of the three races. The Kentucky Derby is 1 1/4 miles.

The field for the Preakness will not be decided until just a few days before the race but only a handful of the 19 horses who contested the Derby are expected to back up.

Trainer Dallas Stewart, who prepared the Derby runner-up, Golden Soul, said his horse was unlikely to race in the Preakness.

"At this point, I think we will pass on the Preakness and look at the Belmont," Stewart said. "That would give us five weeks and hopefully we can get one of the three (races in the Triple Crown series)."

Revolutionary, which finished third for trainer Todd Pletcher, was also skipping the Preakness to save himself for the Belmont, as was his stablemate Overanalyze.

Normandy Invasion, which led the field turning for home and finished fourth, will not race in the Preakness either and was being aimed at the $1 million Travers at Saratoga.

Mylute, which finished fifth under jockey Rosie Napravnik, was a strong possibility to take on Orb in the Preakness as long as the horse was not fatigued.

(China Daily 05/07/2013 page23)