The 139th Run for the Roses is complete, with Orb taking out the 2013 Kentucky Derby in dominant fashion for jockey Joel Rosario and trainer Shug McGaughey.
In a rain-soaked affair, the pre-race favorite was able to make a great run from the back of the pack and take the lead down the straight at Churchill Downs. And from that point, there would be no stopping the premier horse of 2013, who held off Golden Soul and a fast-finishing Revolutionary.
As dominant as the win was, attention now turns to the Preakness Stakes, which takes place three weeks from now, on Saturday, May 18.
Many of the Kentucky Derby horses will contend in the Preakness as well, which possesses a smaller field. As such, there's much to be learned from the Run of the Roses. Read on to see the key takeaways from the 139th Kentucky Derby and how they could play out in Pimlico.
2013 Kentucky Derby: Full Replay of Thrilling Race
Watch a full replay of the Kentucky Derby below, as provided by the Derby's official YouTube channel:
2013 Kentucky Derby: Key Takeaways Heading into Preakness Stakes
Is Oxbow a Surprise Contender for Preakness?
Oxbow surprised many with a strong run and may well have just played his way into contention for the Preakness.
Gary Stevens did a superb job of sticking on with the leaders here, and out of all the horses that tried to stick with the blistering pace set by Palace Malice, Oxbow did the best, fighting on gamely to cross the line in sixth.
He railed beautifully to push up and catch Palace Malice, but was swamped on the outside by Normandy Invasion and then Orb later on in the race.
A shorter track with firmer ground and Oxbow may well have taken it. He'll therefore go into the Preakness Stakes as a surprise contender to watch for.
What About a Struggling Goldencents?
Goldencents was a real contender in the eyes of many for the Derby, and after sitting inside the top three heading into the first turn, it seemed that Kevin Krigger had the horse in a good spot.
He was unable to match the blistering pace, however, and eventually fell well back in the field. So much so that when Orb crossed the finishing line, Goldencents was around 50 lengths off the leading pace.
A horrible run that shows no hope of future success, right?
Well, maybe not. I've picked four key images throughout the race for Goldencents that show he may well be a contender by the time Preakness rolls around.
The first image below highlights Goldencents coming out of the first turn. He is in a great position, but Palace Malice is going quick.
The second image highlights that even more. Palace Malice is trying to extend his lead and run the rest of the competition out of the race in the process—something that is hurting the horses directly behind him but not those at the back of the field. Note here how Goldencents is starting to slip from being behind the leading horses.
That slip is shown even further with the third, which appears to be the exact moment in which Krigger decides to pull up on Goldencents. His hands are weaker and he isn't riding the horse as hard, largely because he knows that he can't win. Not after trying to follow the blistering pace on a wet track, with the likes of Orb and Revolutionary about to sweep home from the back.
So he pulls up, and as he crosses the line, he's looking surprisingly fresh after conserving energy on the final strait.
Now whilst that won't necessarily win him the Preakness, it's important to remember that Goldencents wouldn't have finished 50 lengths behind if nor for the early pace and Krigger hadn't pulled up on him. The firmer track at the Pimlico Race Course should hold him in good stead, and given the lessons learned from the Derby, expect Goldencents to be a real contender.
Orb Must be Considered the Favorite
Yet out of all the performances in the Kentucky Derby this year, there was simply none greater than Orb's, who showed that he can win in a myriad of racing styles.
After winning the Florida Derby and Fountain of Youth by sticking with the pace and then pulling away with his gritty determination, some would have been surprised to see Orb so far back coming into the home stretch, especially given the strength and number of horses that were ahead of him.
But Joel Rosario knew exactly what he was doing—storming home down the outside to chalk up a very impressive (and relatively comfortable) victory.
On a shorter track and smaller field, Orb—born of a mating of Malibu Moon and a mare sired by Unbridled—will be an even bigger threat given the mix of speed and residual stamina he's shown throughout his past few wins. He must be the favorite for the Preakness Stakes and has a real chance to potentially even clinch the Triple Crown in 2013.
Hit me up on Twitter for more sports goodness: Follow @dantalintyre.