There will be no question which horse will enter the Preakness Stakes as the favorite to earn the Black-Eyed Susan Blanket.
With an impressive win at the Kentucky Derby and a legitimate chance at winning horse racing's first Triple Crown since 1978, the second leg is Orb’s to lose.
Orb burst from the pack to outpace the field at Churchill Downs on May 4, earning the Garland of Roses and a great deal of respect as the best horse in a loaded field.
Despite sloppy track conditions and a few horses expected to give the colt a run for his money, the Shug McGaughey-trained thoroughbred removed all doubt that he was the best horse in the race.
The same should hold true at Pimlico on May 18, but that doesn’t mean Orb is guaranteed a win. Several challengers are well-equipped for the 1 3/16-mile track, especially Goldencents and Itsmyluckyday—two of the fastest sprinters in the field.
Post position often plays a huge role in the outcome of thoroughbred races. With the draw set to take place on Wednesday, May 15, odds and rankings will vary until the race begins. For now, we’ll power rank each horse in the field without that information, based on other factors such as speed, race history, running style and more.
|1||Orb||Stuart Janney||Shug McGaughey||Joel Rosario||1-1|
|2||Goldencents||W.C. Racing||Doug O’Neill||Kevin Krigger||8-1|
|3||Departing||Claiborne Farm||Albert M. Stall, Jr.||Brian Hernandez, Jr.||5-1|
|4||Govenor Charlie||Michael E.Pegram||Bob Baffert||Martin Garcia||8-1|
|5||Itsmyluckyday||Trilogy Stable||Eddie Plesa Jr.||John Velazquez||12-1|
|6||Mylute||GoldMark Farm||Tom Amoss||Rosie Napravnik||10-1|
|7||Will Take Charge||Willis D. Horton||D. Wayne Lukas||Mike Smith||12-1|
|8||Oxbow||Calumet Farm||D. Wayne Lukas||Gary Stevens||15-1|
|9||Titletown Five||Hornug/Martin et al||D. Wayne Lukas||Julien Leparoux||30-1|
*Odds acquired from HorseRacingNation.com.
Last year, I’ll Have Another did exactly what Orb hopes to recreate at Pimlico this year.
The Derby-winning colt stormed past the competition in Baltimore to take down the first two legs of the Triple Crown in 2012 before withdrawing from the Belmont Stakes due to tendinitis, leaving horse racing without a Triple Crown winner for a 34th straight year.
Orb has a chance to break that drought with two more wins this year, but it all starts at Pimlico on May 18.
McGaughey’s best horse isn’t just another racing thoroughbred. With the speed, endurance and versatile running style to run from nearly any starting position (not to mention a winning jockey in Joel Rosario), Orb will rightfully be the pre-race favorite barring any major setbacks.
4. Govenor Charlie
Trainer Bob Baffert decided to not start a horse in the Kentucky Derby, ruling out Govenor Charlie as a long-shot option to compete on Churchill Downs’ 1 1/4-mile track. He obviously likes his chances at Pimlico, however, and his horse is an early 8-1 favorite to win the Black-Eyed Susan Blanket.
Govenor Charlie has competed in just three races since January, but the colt has won the last two and took second in the first race.
One of the biggest question marks for Baffert’s horse will be how well he responds to the length of the track. Govenor Charlie’s two wins came on tracks of one mile and 1 1/8 miles—neither quite as long as Pimlico’s 1 3/16-mile dirt track. It may prove to be a non-issue, but his lack of experience at that length may cause some problems down the stretch.
9. Titletown Five
Ranked last of the nine horses already announced in the field, Titletown Five is the early pick to offer the most lucrative payout.
However, like Govenor Charlie, the D. Wayne Lukas-trained Colt has yet to run on a track longer than 1 1/8 miles. He placed fourth or better in every race seven furlongs or shorter since last June, but posted a fourth- and ninth-place finish in his only two races over a mile in length.
That doesn’t necessarily mean Titletown Five can’t succeed at Pimlico, but there isn’t much to go on at this point. Against a field with proven distance sprinters like Orb, Goldencents and Itsmyluckyday, 30-1 odds on Lukas’ horse coming out on top aren’t all that unreasonable.