For those rooting for Kentucky Derby winner Orb at the 2013 Preakness Stakes, drawing the rail position may have seemed like the worst possible thing that could have happened.
But a closer look at the horse and the race should ease doubts about Orb's chances of winning the second leg of the Triple Crown.
It's true, the No. 1 post position is rarely a favorable place to be. As David Grening of Daily Racing Form noted after the draw, Tabasco Cat (1994) is the only Preakness champion at the rail since 1961.
But don't forget that Orb already won a race at the rail position this year, capturing the Grade 2 Fountain of Youth in February. In that race, he was far back through a half-mile but roared into fourth place through three-quarters of a mile. In the final stretch, he burst past two horses to capture the race by a nose.
But more importantly, this is a relatively small field at the Preakness this year. Only nine horses are running, which means there will be much less clutter and jockeying for position than there would be with the maximum of 14 horses.
In fact, while trainer Claude "Shug" McGaughey ultimately wanted the No. 8 position for Orb at the Preakness, he wasn't demoralized by the No. 1 position.
He told Chris Korman of the Baltimore Sun after the draw:
It's a pretty straight start with only nine horses. They won't be jockeying for position as much going into the first turn as they did in the Derby. I think we'll hold our position and see how the race plays out and take it from there.
By the way, when Tabasco Cat won the Preakness from the rail in 1994, only 10 horses were in the field. That's something to keep in mind.
While it's not the preferred draw for Orb and company, this horse proved at the Derby that he has the combination of speed and endurance to defy the odds. He also showed that he won't be pushed around after emerging victorious from the rail at the Fountain of Youth.
Orb has won his last five races, dating back to November 2012. He's won all four of his races in 2013. Don't think that his position on the track will instantly take him out of contention at Pimlico in Baltimore.
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!