All eyes will be on Orb during Saturday's Preakness Stakes as the Kentucky Derby winner looks to capture the second jewel of the Triple Crown. There are a few horses in the field that can potentially give Orb some trouble, but there are others that will serve as filler and little else.
There are only nine horses currently confirmed for the field at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore, so more will be added in the coming days. The Kentucky Derby returnees have already been entered, and the newcomers with a chance to do some damage are confirmed as well.
Among the nine horses in the race, there is no doubt that at least a couple of them will push Orb to the limit. At the same time, some of them will falter and fail to make much of an impact. Here are three horses that will be non-factors in the Preakness Stakes.
Goldencents entered the Kentucky Derby as one of the betting favorites, and it was easy to see why. With trainer Doug O'Neill going for a second consecutive Derby victory, jockey Kevin Krigger looking to become the first African American Kentucky Derby winner since 1902 and part-owner Rick Pitino aiming to continue his hot streak, Goldencents had all kinds of good karma working in his favor. Despite that, the accomplished colt faltered.
He shot out to the front along with Palace Malice to set a blistering pace at Churchill Downs, but it proved to be unsustainable. Goldencents ultimately faded and ended up finishing a disappointing 17th. Expectations were huge for Goldencents following his impressive Santa Anita Derby victory, but perhaps nerves got the better of both him and Krigger.
The pressure to succeed won't be as present in the Preakness, as all of that has shifted to Orb and Joel Rosario, but that won't make much of a difference. Goldencents has proven to be a front-runner, while Orb showed that he is adept at coming from behind.
Even if Goldencents is able to set a more reasonable pace on Saturday, he will ultimately succumb to the late kick of Orb. If a horse is going to beat Orb, it will have to be another closer similar to him and not a pacesetter such as Goldencents.
Perhaps it isn't fair to count out a horse so long before the race, but Titletown Five simply doesn't seem to have the makings of a contender. He is one of three D. Wayne Lukas-trained horses in the field, so it is almost as if the legendary trainer is going for quantity over quality.
The most intriguing thing about Titletown Five is likely his ownership group as Green Bay Packers legends Paul Hornung and Willie Davis are his co-owners, according to ESPN's Darren Rovell.
Despite Titletown Five's championship owners, he won't be able to give Orb a run for his money. Titletown Five is winless in three races this year and managed to finish fourth or worse in two of those races. In fact, Titletown Five only has one win in seven career starts, so it is hard to imagine him competing with a horse like Orb who looked so dominant down the stretch at the Kentucky Derby.
The one thing working in Titletown Five's favor is the fact that he will be guided by jockey Julien Leparoux. The 29-year-old Leparoux performed exceptionally well on Derby day in the races that occurred earlier in the day, so he is locked in right now. Even so, Titletown Five hasn't proven capable of competing in such a talented field, and there is nothing Leparoux can do to change that.
One of the most surprising performers of the Kentucky Derby was the unheralded Oxbow. He managed to finish sixth in a large and talented field, which was significantly better than most expected. Oxbow is one of three D. Wayne Lukas horses scheduled to run in the Preakness, and while he is arguably the most accomplished among them, don't look for Oxbow to be much of a factor on Saturday.
While Oxbow is quite experienced with 10 races to his credit, he rarely challenges near the front. Oxbow only has two career victories and isn't particularly proficient in any specific areas. He was the beneficiary of Goldencents, Palace Malice and others setting too torrid of a pace in the Kentucky Derby, but it is unlikely that he will get that lucky again in the Preakness.
Hall of Fame jockey Gary Stevens will mount Oxbow once again in the Preakness. As great as Stevens has been over the course of his career, he simply isn't in his prime anymore. Even when he was at his peak, though, he needed a great horse to succeed. Oxbow has definitely proven that he is good enough to be in the field, but he won't be a threat to Orb.
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