(AP) Orb favored to take Preakness, set up Triple try
By RICHARD ROSENBLATT
AP Sports Writer
Orb is ready for his whirl at history.
The Kentucky Derby winner was in a playful mood the day before the Preakness, making faces for photographers between nibbles of grass outside his stall at Pimlico Race Course.
If he can defeat eight rivals in the 1 3-16-mile Preakness on Saturday, it would set up a Triple Crown try in the Belmont Stakes in three weeks. Orb is the even-money favorite, and there’s a growing feeling that this 3-year-old bay colt may be special enough to give thoroughbred racing its first Triple Crown champion since Affirmed in 1978.
Orb extended his winning streak to five with a thrilling victory in the Derby two weeks ago, when jockey Joel Rosario patiently guided the colt from 17th to first in the final half mile over a sloppy track.
In the Preakness, Orb will break from the No. 1 post, a spot that has seen only one winner _ Tabasco Cat in 1994 _ since 1961.
While rival trainers aren’t conceding the race, most agree Orb is the best of the bunch.
Baffert has been there before. Three of his five Preakness winners had also won the Derby, but were unable to complete the Triple Crown with a win in the Belmont. He says the Preakness is the least stressful of the three races.
Getting to the next one may sound easy. It isn’t. Six of the past eight Derby winners did not win the Preakness, and McGaughey is well aware of the pitfalls.
Among the challengers are Goldencents, who did not take to the slop at Churchill Downs and finished 17th after winning the Santa Anita Derby in April.
It might be Itsmyluckyday’s lucky day. He’s another highly regarded colt who did not handle the sloppy track and finished 15th in the Derby.
Or it could be Departing, one of the three horses in the race who did not run in the Derby. Orb knows Departing well _ the two were pals growing up at Claiborne Farm in Paris, Ky., and ran around together in the same field. The gelding has won four of five starts, and comes into the Preakness off a win in the Illinois Derby.
And, of course, there’s D. Wayne Lukas, who has three of the nine entries in Oxbow, Will Take Charge and Titletown Five, a colt owned by Green Bay Packers greats Paul Hornung and Willie Davis. Lukas, like Baffert, has five Preakness wins, and his next victory in a Triple Crown race would give him a record 14 _ one more than “Sunny Jim” Fitzsimmons.
Oxbow was sixth and Will Take Charge eighth in the Derby, while Titletown Five is a maiden winner who ran fourth in the Derby Trial.
Weather could be a factor, too. The latest forecast for Saturday is calling for a 50 percent chance of rain with temperatures reaching the low 70s. Post time for the race on NBC is 6:20 p.m.
While Orb will take his shot at becoming the 34th horse with a chance at the Triple Crown _ 11 have done it, 19 failed and three others did not run in the Belmont _ several other historic milestones are in play. Rosie Napravnik will be aboard 5-1 second choice Mylute in an attempt to become the first female to the win the Preakness and Kevin Krigger, who rides Goldencents, looks to become the first black jockey to win since Willie Simms with Sly Fox in 1898.
Orb is owned by Ogden Mills “Dinny Phipps and Stuart Janney III, first cousins who have been breeding and racing their own horses for decades. McGaughey has been with the Phipps Stable for 28 years, and is one of the most respected trainers in the business.
And, as McGaughey says: “`We’re excited about giving him a whirl to see if we can get it done and go on to the next step.”
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