Preakness 2013: Orb's Lack of Competition Widens Door to Win at Pimlico

John RozumCorrespondent IMay 15, 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 Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Rob Carr/Getty Images

The 2013 Preakness Stakes may offer weakened competition for Orb as he looks to win the Triple Crown's second leg.

Other contenders such as Golden Soul and Revolutionary are not expected to come out of the Pimlico gates on Saturday. According to Alex Brown of the New York Times on May 6, the Preakness is looking easier for Orb:

The second-place finisher, the longshot Golden Soul, is planning on waiting to challenge for the Belmont Stakes, the third leg of the Crown. He will have freshness on his side at that point.

Revolutionary, who finished third, was the best finisher of the trainer Todd Pletcher’s five starters. At this point, none of those starters are expected to return to challenge Orb in Baltimore. Overanalyze and Revolutionary may return to for the Belmont.

Simply put: Orb would have increased expectations to take the Preakness just like I'll Have Another did in 2012.

One major difference for he and jockey Joel Rosario, though, was the distance of winning the Kentucky Derby. I'll Have Another won the first leg of the Triple Crown by a smaller margin.

Now factor in the potential decrease of competition, and that only enhances Orb's odds. Although the Pimlico track (9.5 furlongs) is shorter than Churchill Downs (10 furlongs), Rosario's veteran experience will conduct a smooth race.

He got Orb to lurk just behind the front of the pack in Kentucky and then made a strong move to win rather convincingly. Obviously Rosario will have to act sooner than later in Baltimore, but Orb possesses the pedigree for stamina and explosiveness to quickly accelerate and play catchup.

Don't anticipate the pressure of winning to take on a distracting role, either.

Orb enters on a five-race win streak that began in late November of 2012 at Aqueduct. Coming from way back at the Derby was just an extension of his previous wins. Churchill Downs is just a grander stage against better competition.

Mesh that tenacity with Rosario's 1,600-plus victories, and Orb's only competition right now is himself. It's now only a matter of getting the job done once the Pimlico gates open up.