Preakness Stakes 2013: Latest Buzz on Top Contenders at Pimlico

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Preakness Stakes 2013: Latest Buzz on Top Contenders at Pimlico
Matthew Stockman/Getty Images
Orb is the prohibitive favorite entering the Preakness Stakes.

As Saturday's 138th running of the Preakness Stakes approaches, it's worth checking in on the latest buzz surrounding the top odds-on favorites.

Who has the best chance to deny Orb of a Triple Crown bid?

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Those include Kentucky Derby winner Orb, new shooter Departing and Mylute, whose jockey, Rosie Napravnik, will attempt to become the first female to win this marquee race at Pimlico Race Course.

Orb's pursuit of the Triple Crown, Departing's potential to play spoiler as the fresh horse and Napravnik's storyline provide plenty of enticing developments to watch for by themselves.

Let's take a closer look at each of those horses and what is being said about their prospects as race day approaches.

Note: Statistics and information, unless otherwise indicated, are courtesy of Preakness.com.

 

Post Positions and Complete Field

Post No.

Horse

Trainer

Jockey

Morning Line

1

Orb

Shug McGaughey

Joel Rosario

1-1

2

Goldencents

Doug O'Neill

Kevin Krigger

8-1

3

Titletown Five

D. Wayne Lukas

Julien Leparoux

30-1

4

Departing

Albert M. Stall Jr.

Brian Hernandez Jr.

6-1

5

Mylute

Tom Amoss

Rosie Napravnik

5-1

6

Oxbow

D. Wayne Lukas

Gary Stevens

15-1

7

Will Take Charge

D. Wayne Lukas

Mike Smith

12-1

8

Govenor Charlie

Bob Baffert

Martin Garcia

12-1

9

Itsmyluckyday

Eddie Plesa Jr.

John Velazquez

10-1

 

Orb

All signs indicate that Orb is still in top form after his triumph at Churchill Downs, and it makes sense that he opened as the even-money favorite in the morning line.

Pat Forde of Yahoo! was on hand just days ago to watch Orb work the track at Belmont Park before he left for Pimlico, and trainer Shug McGaughey was glowing with praise:

Jockey Joel Rosario has more wins than any of his peers in 2013, per Equibase.com, and though Orb is not typically known for blazing speed, he feels Orb is as swift as anyone. Rosario compared him to a very fast sports car, as logged by BloodHorse.com expert Claire Novak:

Denver Broncos wide receiver Wes Welker was part of the celebration with ex-New England Patriots teammate Tom Brady when Orb won the Kentucky Derby. It's unclear whether he bet on him, but he must have had some sort of stake, and he believes Orb can pull off the Triple Crown feat:

The Belmont Stakes is certainly hoping Orb can capture the Middle Jewel. If he does not, the business consequences would be difficult to swallow, per ESPN's Darren Rovell:

Orb appears to be a cut above the rest of the field, but with a shorter track and a substantially smaller field filled with sprinters, he will have his work cut out for him.

 

Departing

Pregame.com's Marco D'Angelo and Dave Tuley discuss the hype involving Departing.

The emerging No. 2 favorite appears to be Departing, who knotted Mylute with odds of 13-to-2 on Friday, according to Bovada.

Departing is gaining steam to place in the Preakness in the eyes of experts, including Horse Racing Nation's Brian Zipse and Jay Privman of the Daily Racing Form:

That makes sense because Departing's lone loss in five prior starts was to Mylute and winner Revolutionary at the Louisiana Derby. ESPN's Amanda Duckworth logged comments made by trainer Albert M. Stall Jr., who wasn't concerned about not running in the Kentucky Derby:

After the Louisiana Derby, the Kentucky Derby was off the table with the point system. It worked out well for us. The Illinois Derby billed itself as a prep for the Preakness, and hopefully we can make it successful for the Illinois Derby.

Departing romped to a win at the Illinois Derby by three and one-quarter lengths and has one of the best jockeys in Brian Hernandez Jr. aboard in Baltimore. It appears the strategy is paying off.

Duckworth also points out how Departing and Orb grew up together as foals, and now they could ironically be the ones battling down the final stretch for a Triple Crown victory.

 

Mylute

Rob Carr/Getty Images

As mentioned before, jockey Rosie Napravnik has a significant chance to make history and already logged a record finish for a female in the Kentucky Derby, riding Mylute to fifth place.

Mylute was the top finisher at Churchill Downs other than Orb, proving he could get it done even on a relatively sloppy track. But Napravnik felt Mylute fell too far off the ambitious Derby pace set by Palace Malice, which ultimately proved costly.

That strategy will be adjusted for the shorter course at Pimlico, as the Daily Racing Form's Mary Rampellini reports:

There are three Hall of Fame jockeys in the field, but Napravnik is no slouch in her own right. Horse Racing Nation's Ashley Tamulonis captures what makes Napravnik a formidable force to be reckoned with:

Heading into Saturday, she boasts the highest win percentage of any of the jockeys in the field, is fifth overall in terms of purses earned, and is third overall in terms of races won. Oh yeah, did I mention that for all intents and purposes, Pimlico is her home track?

Gary Mihoces of the USA Today confirms that Napravnik began her racing career as a 17-year-old at Pimlico, notching her maiden win in 2005 on a horse named Ringofdiamonds.

This information at least partially explains why the 25-year-old jockey is so ecstatic for the Preakness:

If that enthusiasm doesn't get horse racing fans excited enough to "get their preak on" in Baltimore in just over 24 hours, it's hard to fathom what else could.

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