The weeks leading up to the Kentucky Derby are full of excitement and anticipation. By the time the winning horse is draped in the garland of roses, the focus shifts to the second leg of the Triple Crown, and all eyes are fixed on potential winners.
Orb entered the Run for the Roses the co-favorite at 6-1 and proved it was the best choice for the role. With a time of 2:02.89, the three-year-old colt beat long shot Golden Soul by 2.5 lengths and became the prohibitive favorite to win at Pimlico Race Course in less than two weeks, and the only thoroughbred this year able to challenge for the first Triple Crown in 35 years.
Several top Derby challengers are unlikely to make the trip to Baltimore, however. According to Ron Mitchell of BloodHorse.com, trainer Todd Pletcher may not enter any of his five Derby thoroughbreds in the Preakness this year—a list that includes pre-race favorites Revolutionary and Verrazano.
Oxbow and Will Take Charge could both be headed to the second leg of the Triple Crown, however. Mitchell notes that D. Wayne Lukas does plan on entering his two Derby horses in the race at Pimlico on May 18.
The field is yet to be determined, but we have a pretty clear picture of some of the top contenders to race in less than two weeks at the Preakness Stakes. Let’s take a look at three of the top potential challengers and break down their chances of winning the Black-eyed Susan Blanket.
Kentucky Derby Finishers
|1||Orb||Joel Rosario||Shug McGaughey||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|
Itsmyluckyday wasn’t so lucky on Saturday, but the three-year-old has plenty of good races left to run this season.
The Eddie Plesa Jr.-trained colt was expected to put on a good show at Churchill Downs, but it seems the sloppy track conditions slowed one of the fastest sprinters in the field. Starting in the No. 12 post position wouldn’t have ordinarily been a problem for the versatile horse; the conditions just weren’t ideal for an upset bid.
Should Plesa’s best three-year-old run at the Stakes, it will definitely be worth keeping an eye on as a pre-race favorite and potential Preakness winner. Itsmyluckyday has the speed and stamina to run from anywhere in the pack from any starting position, and jockey Elvis Trujillo now has a big race under his belt on the back of the Holy Bull Stakes winner.
Like Itsmyluckyday, Goldencents failed to live up to lofty expectations at Churchill Downs. The highly regarded colt finished the Derby in 17th place, dashing the hopes of trainer Doug O’Neill in the process.
But according to Mitchell, O’Neill may take another crack at it with Goldencents at the Stakes. Should the three-year-old run on a dry track at the Preakness, there’s no reason it shouldn’t be considered an early favorite to win.
Easily one of the fastest-sprinting horses at the Derby, Goldencents has the speed to make any race competitive. Sloppy track conditions at the Derby prohibited it from getting a good break from the gates and setting the pace (something Goldencents excels at), but things may turn out a little different at the Preakness.
Orb will be the favorite entering the Preakness, and why not? Everyone is hoping to see a Triple Crown winner for the first time in 35 years, and Orb is the only horse with the chance of accomplishing that feat this year.
Shug McGaughey’s only Derby-winning horse hasn’t lost a race since last November and has the makings of a true Triple Crown contender. It’s still early, but there’s reason to be hopeful.
One of the most exciting aspects of Orb’s style is its ability to burst from the pack down the stretch. One of the best closers among all three-year-old racing thoroughbreds, the McGaughey-trained horse can’t be ruled out until the race is complete.
Provided Orb doesn’t sustain any major injuries in the two weeks leading up to the Stakes, expect the Derby winner to be an overwhelming favorite to secure the second leg of the Triple Crown.