Joel Rosario is one of the fastest rising jockeys around at the moment, and the 28-year-old could very well prove that with a Triple Crown atop Orb in 2013.
After his success in the 2013 Kentucky Derby—where he expertly guided Orb from the back of the pack to a comfortable victory in the end—Rosario has shown himself to be more than capable of succeeding on the grand stage in America and that he is a serious threat at taking out the Triple Crown this year.
Rosario has already won the Dubai World Cup in 2013 aboard Animal Kingdom and finished in the top five in the National Earnings List in each of the last four years.
Yet now, with a Derby win under his belt, the 28-year-old may well be set to take his biggest step to date. Rosario rode a perfect race on Orb in the Derby this year—recognizing the early speed in the race and quickly dropping the favorite to the back of the pack.
And even when the likes of Goldencents and Normandy Invasion tried to conquer the lead around the home turn, Rosario waited. He timed his run on Orb to perfection and was able to spring to the lead halfway down the straight—a moment in which it became clear Orb was not going to be beaten.
However, for Rosario, it was also clear that he is the real-deal and a world-class jockey—one that has the skills and talents to make the step across to the elite.
Orb will head to the Preakness Stakes at the Pimlico Race Course in Maryland as the firm favorite. Rosario will likely be the jockey on board the Derby champion, but there are no definite guarantees on that fact given that John Velazquez had the chance to ride Orb for the prestigious race.
He chose Verrazano instead , and after Rosario's success you'd think it would likely stay that way, but there are no guarantees when it comes to horse racing.
Assuming Rosario is the jockey, you'd have to think he has a great chance to keep his Triple Crown chances alive with victory in the Preakness.
The harder course and quicker tempo should suit Orb—who usually likes to run in behind the leaders—and bring his pedigree of speed and residual stamina to the table by kicking it up a gear when he hits the home straight.
The Pimlico Race Course is shorter than that of the Derby too (with a smaller field), and so it will be easier for Rosario to navigate Orb to exactly where he wants to be—either at the front or at the back. For as he showed this weekend, he's capable of getting Orb to the finishing line in either style.
Rosario guided a perfect race on Saturday at Churchill Downs.
And if what we've seen so far this year from both Rosario and Orb rings true, then they'll be an incredibly tough combination to stop at the Preakness.
I'd give you 5/1 on Rosario and Orb chalking up the Triple Crown this year, and I think that's being generous. They're brilliant apart, and as they proved Saturday, they're brilliant together as well—something they could well show over the rest of 2013.
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