There were plenty of talented horses in the 2013 Kentucky Derby, but Orb's victory at Churchill Downs was a display of composure and fortitude distancing a horse from his competition.
Orb—who has now won five straight starts—started out behind the competition after a slight nudge at the gate, but it wasn't like he was running at a slow pace. Jockey Joel Rosario said after the race on NBC that Orb responded exactly how he wanted him to; it was a case of Rosario holding Orb back for the final stretch as the rest of the competition charged early.
And charge early it did.
Palace Malice set a blistering pace in the first half of the race as several horses jostled for position behind him. Orb was among the last horses in the pack during that stretch, as Rosario chose to patiently keep the horse back and avoid bumping in traffic.
Orb then turned it up a notch in the second half of the race, and by the time the back stretch came, he was passing horses left and right as if they were standing still.
He ended up winning by two-and-a-half lengths over second-place finisher Golden Soul on Saturday. The patience exhibited by the horse, as well as Rosario, was the kind of stuff that gets people talking about the possibility of another Triple Crown winner.
Rosario called it a "perfect trip," according to the New York Times.
Orb's speed also came into play, obviously. Having endurance is one thing, but closing like that is another. Orb—whose sire is the notable Malibu Moon and whose dam is stamina-infused Lady Liberty (of 1990 Kentucky Derby winner Unbridled)—showed the closing burst to also be a contender at the Preakness Stakes.
As they say, it's not how you start, but how you finish. Orb finished like a champion on Saturday, using his reserved energy at the end to explode past the competition, marking a stunning Kentucky Derby.