Orb established what appeared to be clear dominance over the three-year-old class of thoroughbreds with his surging run from far back to win the Kentucky Derby on the first Saturday in May.
While he could go off as a commanding 3-5 favorite in the 138th Preakness Stakes this Saturday at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore, they won't just hand him the second leg of the Triple Crown.
Only eight challengers will line up to face him—three of them new faces who were not among the vanquished at Churchill Downs. Other runners from the Kentucky Derby are skipping the Preakness to await the Belmont Stakes on June 8.
Orb now has won five races in a row, so the connections of the other runners have to look hard to find where they might find an advantage, or at least a level playing field. They can look at the track conditions at Churchill Downs, which were sloppy on Kentucky Derby Day.
Orb ran his best Beyer Speed Figure (a 104) that day, and his other best figures (two 97s) are comparable to the best of the others in the Preakness field. The weather forecast calls for mostly sunshine on Saturday, high in the mid-70s. A fast track might be an equalizer, or so the other runners can dream.
The following are my power rankings of the field for the 138th Preakness Stakes.