Orb was one of the favorites at the 2013 Kentucky Derby, and he certainly raced like one. The horse ridden by jockey Joel Rosario won the Run for the Roses on Saturday, bursting from the back to ultimately take the lead down the final stretch.
Now, the question becomes: Can he win the Triple Crown this year?
There hasn't been a Triple Crown winner since Affirmed in 1978. Last year, I'll Have Another won both the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes before having to unfortunately withdraw from the Belmont Stakes due to tendonitis.
In 2011, Animal Kingdom won the Derby before placing second at the Preakness and sixth at the Belmont. The 2010 winner, Super Saver, finished a disappointing eighth at the Preakness.
The 20-horse field for the Derby, combined with the fact that the Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes test a horse in different ways, makes it extremely difficult to win the the Triple Crown in the modern era. Over the course of the three historic races, a horse's speed, endurance and fortitude are all pushed to the brink.
Just when it looks like a horse is unbeatable, it falls short in the ultimate quest. Big Brown, for example, won the first two races in 2008 (both in very convincing fashion) before finishing ninth at the Belmont.
A horse needs to be prepared for each of the three legs, both mentally and physically. Feeling less than perfect on one of these legs is all that it takes to sink a horse's chances of making history.
All that said, Orb is the type of horse that could win the Triple Crown.
On Saturday, we were all witness to what makes Orb special. He was patient early when Palace Malice burst out to the lead, staying attentive to his young jockey's commands. Then, Orb's outstanding speed took center stage after Rosario worked him around the outside down the stretch.
The 2013 Derby winner, out of post No. 16, closed like a champion on Saturday, blowing past the rest of the competition in dramatic fashion.
There are some concerns about Orb's tendency to get pushed back by other horses out of the gate. But, as Jessica Paquette of Bleacher Report noted, his slow start at the 2013 Kentucky Derby had less to do with that and more to do with the rest of the competition started out at a blistering pace that they couldn't maintain.
In the end, Orb's composure, speed and endurance won the Derby—all necessary traits to win the Triple Crown.
Another Triple Crown winner has been a long time coming, but Orb is on a scintillating run right now, winning his last five races. He has a better shot than some may think.