Orb is the 2013 Kentucky Derby champion after powering down the outside to beat off Golden Soul and a fast-finishing Revolutionary in the 139th Run for the Roses.
And as soon as the colt crossed the winning post with ease, the biggest question on everyone's lips was whether or not he stands a chance at the Triple Crown this year.
The last Triple Crown winner was Affirmed—all the way back in 1978—though I'll Have Another was very close last year. He won the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes before withdrawing from the Belmont Stakes and thus ending his shot at taking out the illustrious achievement.
But does Orb have a chance at the Triple Crown in 2013?
Well, the answer to that starts with his chances at the Preakness Stakes, which will be run on May 18, 2013 at famed Pimlico Race Course in Maryland.
And after his Kentucky Derby win, Orb will no doubt enter the race with a great chance of chalking up his second major-race victory in 2013.
The shorter course at Preakness will make for an intriguing option for Orb, who showed here that he has great ability to come from behind and swamp the front-runners. Granted, that was helped by a wet track, but Joel Rosario will undoubtedly have to keep in mind that with a good track, the 9.5 furlongs at Preakness will require a different strategy to that which he employed so successfully over 10 furlongs.
The smaller field will also be a key factor to watch for the Derby champion.
He was able to successfully navigate his way around the other 18 horses in the field (which many could not do) and will surely be able to do that again in the Preakness, which only holds a field of 14 horses. And as retired Hall of Fame jockey Gary Stevens (now NBC analyst) points out, via FoxSports, the Preakness is therefore won by the better horse and not just a horse that had a better run or luck.
A lot of the difference [between the two races] is with 20 horses in the Kentucky Derby, there are a lot of bad trips and very few good trips. Whereas the Preakness with 14 horses, it's a lot easier to maneuver around. The atmosphere is a lot different. Everybody is more settled in at this point, and you get better trips.
The Preakness is always won by a legitimate horse.
Inasmuch, there's little doubting that Orb is a legitimate horse this year.
Rosario is in red-hot form and is developing a great connection with the horse, who, in turn, is performing on the biggest stage and winning races.
After his win on Saturday, Orb has now won five races in a row.
He has won them in various styles and fashions with different contexts and problems thrown at him, and yet he has emerged triumphant time and time again.
The Grade I Florida Derby, the Kentucky Derby—it doesn't matter for Orb.
And so he'll no doubt come into the Preakness as the firm favorite to repeat on his Kentucky Derby success—even with a dry track and different conditions.
Horses are able to run much quicker times at the Preakness than at the Derby, and we'll likely see that from Orb this year. He has shown electric pace when required throughout his major victories this year and has shown no inconsistencies to suggest he will struggle in Maryland.
Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert said, via Fox Sports:
"The Derby winner is always the horse to beat here [at Preakness]. Usually this is the easiest leg. When a horse wins the Derby, he's in the zone. He's peaking."
For those that watched Orb at the Kentucky Derby this year, they know full well what he's capable of on the track. And for those that merely saw his name listed alongside that of "champion," they too can see that this is the horse to watch out for heading into the Preakness Stakes this year.
Orb is the early favorite, and whilst the odds may change between now and then, there's little doubting that he'll be a huge contender to watch come race time.
He proved that with an incredible win at Churchill Downs this weekend.
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