Preakness 2013: Projecting Orb's Chances of Continuing Triple-Crown Pursuit

Joseph ZuckerFeatured ColumnistMay 5, 2013

LOUISVILLE, KY - MAY 04:  Joel Rosario atop Orb reacts after winning the 139th running of the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs on May 4, 2013 in Louisville, Kentucky.  (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)
Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

The 138th Preakness Stakes is a little less than two weeks away, but it's not too early to anoint Orb as the heavy favorite to continue his run for the Triple Crown.

Seeing any other horse being able to overtake Orb in the buildup will be difficult. He ran a great race at the Kentucky Derby, making a late push to win by 2.5 lengths.

Orb had a ton of pressure going into the race since he was the betting favorite. That signifies the horse's strength, but it's been a kiss of death rather than an encouraging notion. Rarely in recent history has the favorite actually been able to win the race (h/t ESPN Stats and Info):

Many Kentucky Derby winners have been labeled as "Triple Crown favorites." Sometimes, the horse really does impress you. Other times, it's more about the fans wanting to see a horse win a Triple Crown rather than actually believing that a horse can do it.

With Orb, you feel like it's more of the former. He has the total package.

Orb likes to break from the pack and make a final kick in order to get ahead of the leaders. That strategy was used to perfection on Saturday. Down the final stretches, fans were able to see what all the hype was about with Orb. He ran beautifully and looked far and away to be the best horse. It would have been interesting to see how much more he would have beaten Golden Soul over a slightly longer distance.

In case you missed the Derby, here are the results.

Place Horse Jockey Trainer Post
1 Orb Joel Rosario Claude R. McGaughey III 16
2 Golden Soul Robby Albarado Dallas Stewart 4
3 Revolutionary Calvin Borel  Todd Pletcher 3
4 Normandy Invasion Javier Castellano Chad Brown 5
5 Mylute Rosie Napravnik Tom Amoss 6
6 Oxbow Gary Stevens D. Wayne Lukas 2
7 Lines of Battle Ryan Moore Aidan O'Brien 11
8 Will Take Charge Jon Court D. Wayne Lukas 17
9 Charming Kitten Edgar Prado Todd Pletcher 15
10 Giant Finish Jose L. Espinoza  Anthony W. Dutrow 7
11 Overanalyze  Rafael Bejarano Todd Pletcher  9
12 Palace Malice Mike Smith Todd Pletcher  10
13 Java's War  Julien Leparoux Kenny McPeek 19
14 Verrazano John R. Velazquez Todd Pletcher 14
15 Itsmyluckyday Elvis Trujillo Eddie Plesa, Jr.  12
16 Frac Daddy Victor Lebron  Kenny McPeek 18
17 Goldencents Kevin Krigger  Doug O'Neill  8
18 Vyjack Garrett Gomez Rudy Rodriguez 20
19 Falling Sky  Luis Saez  John Terranova II  13

Aside from the pure talent of Orb, you've got a great combination of trainer and jockey.

Joel Rosario is one of the best young jockeys in the sport. The 28-year-old didn't have a ton of success at Churchill Downs coming in to the race. Now that he has that win, though, it's unlikely that this will be the only time he's a Kentucky Derby champion. And the win will give him plenty of confidence going forward in the Triple Crown races.

Rosario ran a great race. This was a nice example of how skilled a strategist he is. Starting at the 16th position allowed Orb to get on the outside early, and Rosario made that count. He timed the final run perfectly in order to jump out ahead before the finish line.

When it comes to trainers, they don't come much better than Shug McGaughey. He's a legend in the sport, and this was the first Kentucky Derby win of his illustrious career.

At this point, it's hard to see who else could challenge Orb. Goldencents and Verrazano were two of the Derby favorites, but they had disappointing showings in the race. Revolutionary did well, but you wouldn't favor him over Orb at Pimlico on May 18.

Orb doesn't look to be a transcendent horse, but if he repeats his Derby-winning performance at the Preakness, there isn't another horse who would be able to touch him.