Post positions for the 2013 Preakness Stakes have been revealed, and as expected, the morning-line favorite is Orb, the winner of the Kentucky Derby earlier this month.
The 138th running for the Black-Eyed Susan Blanket will feature only nine horses, which only increases the odds that Orb can notch the first two jewels in the Triple Crown. However, there will be some dangerous contenders that will look to spoil his chances at history.
Below is a breakdown of what you need to know ahead of Saturday's marquee race at Baltimore's Pimlico Race Course, including top storylines and predictions for the top three.
Note: All information, unless otherwise indicated, is courtesy of Preakness.com.
When: Saturday, May 18
Where: Pimlico Race Course, Baltimore, Md.
TV: NBC—coverage begins at 4:30 p.m. ET
Live Stream: NBC Sports
For complete information with regard to the 6.5 hours of coverage by NBC, visit BloodHorse.com.
Post Positions and Complete Field
D. Wayne Lukas
Albert M. Stall Jr.
Brian Hernandez Jr.
D. Wayne Lukas
Will Take Charge
D. Wayne Lukas
|Bob Baffert || |
Eddie Plesa Jr.
|John Velazquez |
*Odds via KY Derby Contenders on Twitter, as of 7 p.m. ET, May 15
Orb's Pursuit of the Triple Crown
Affirmed was the last to pull off horse racing's ultimate trifecta in 1978, and the hype surrounding Orb is definitely justified after his storm to the front at Churchill Downs.
HRTV's Twitter page suggests that perhaps destiny has Orb on a collision course with the most prestigious accolades in horse racing:
Coincidence or not that Orb is right behind Big Red's nameplate? http://t.co/WOXlfzSY7I2013-5-15 19:30:46
Jockey Joel Rosario notched his 130th victory of 2013 aboard Orb in the Run for the Roses, which also gave trainer Shug McGaughey his first Kentucky Derby triumph. That meant a lot to the world-renowned McGaughey, who is a Lexington native.
The No. 1 post position is historically difficult to overcome against far fewer horses, as David Grening of the Daily Racing Form alludes to:
David Grening @DRFGrening
Tabasco Cat (1994) only Preakness winner from the rail since 1961. #orb2013-5-15 22:12:08
Having said that, there's little reason to dismiss Orb's chances with Rosario in the saddle—particularly since it will be a far more diminished field in terms of numbers and viable competition than it was in Louisville.
Jockeys Bid for Landmark Achievements
Kevin Krigger would be the first black jockey to win the Preakness Stakes since 1898 aboard Goldencents, but the speedy colt is coming off a 17th-place effort at the Kentucky Derby.
The fast pace in the beginning thwarted any hopes for Doug O'Neill to be the seventh trainer to repeat notching the first leg of the Triple Crown. When victory seemed out of reach, the decision Krigger made to slow up may actually help Goldencents in this one.
Pimlico is a slightly shorter track than Churchill Downs, which works to the benefit of a horse like Goldencents, who is reliant on speed. As poor as the Derby run was, though, it's hard to pick Goldencents with any kind of conviction.
Meanwhile, Rosie Napravnik will mount Mylute for a second consecutive time and couldn't be more excited to get going:
Rosie Napravnik @RosieNapravnik
Get your PREAK ON baby I'm coming home ;-) I promise you there is no other jockey who wants to win the #Preakness more than me! MYLUTE2013-5-11 12:03:11
Napravnik began her career at this track at age 17, and rode Mylute to fifth in Louisville. Mylute continues to improve and could be due for a breakout performance. It would make Napravnik the first female in history to win this race.
Chris Korman of the Baltimore Sun reports that Orb and Departing grew up roaming the same fields in Kentucky to prepare for a racing career, beginning in September 2010.
Another link between the odds-on favorites can be traced to Departing's trainer, Albert M. Stall Jr., and Tom Amoss, who works with Mylute. The two are good friends, and for the first time they will be competing against each other in a Triple Crown race, according to Alicia Wincze Hughes of the Lexington Herald-Leader.
Considering that Mylute and Departing are projected to finish in the top three, it should only raise the hype surrounding the horses with the most favorable odds.
However, the trainer who essentially has a monopoly on the field is Hall of Famer D. Wayne Lukas. Three of the nine competitors are Lukas pupils, with Mike Smith's Will Take Charge possessing the best odds.
Don't sleep on Oxbow at 15-1, though. Gary Stevens came out of retirement to ride him to sixth place in the Kentucky Derby, and Oxbow has the quickness to threaten at this course.
It's hard to fathom anyone legitimately challenging Orb, given his form in workouts and the burst he showed at the end of the Kentucky Derby.
The rest of the Triple Crown season would be somewhat of a letdown if Rosario isn't able to guide Orb to victory. That shouldn't be much of a problem, though, because Orb is simply a cut above the rest of this field.
Departing will play second fiddle to Orb simply becuase of Rosario's prowess this season and the superior experience of McGaughey, too.
The fact that Departing has won all but one of his starts—and that was against extremely difficult competition—works in his favor. Unfortunately, it won't be quite enough to overtake the superior physical specimen in Orb down the backstretch.
This is jockey Brian Hernandez Jr.'s maiden run at the Preakness Stakes, and though he's one of the premier young jockeys, he will fall just short.
Finishing has been the big issue for Mylute, who has just two wins in 10 previous starts. With the aforementioned strong run at Churchill Downs, though, the horse continues to show marked improvement.
The stamina that Mylute showed in the Kentucky Derby was a wonderful sign, and this track is slightly shorter, which helps. However, Orb and Departing are slightly superior in terms of natural ability.
Nevertheless, Napravnik will still notch the best finish by a female in Preakness history, continuing to enhance her resume and status as a go-to option in marquee Triple Crown events.