When the gates open on the 2013 Preakness, all eyes will be on Kentucky Derby winner and race favorite, Orb.
After setting Louisville ablaze with a strong come-from-behind victory to win at Churchill Downs, everyone wants to know if he can take the next step toward that ever-elusive Triple Crown. He enters the race at Pimlico at even 1-1 odds according to HorseRacingNation.com and that makes him the prohibitive favorite.
However, earning the second leg of the Triple Crown won't be an easy task. Aside from starting in the No. 1 post position, which as David Grening of the Daily Racing Form points out, hasn't produced a winner since 1994, he'll also face a nine-horse field full of strong horses that can give him a challenge.
Tabasco Cat (1994) only Preakness winner from the rail since 1961. #orb— David Grening (@DRFGrening) May 15, 2013
These are the horses that have the best shot at keeping Orb away from an appointment with history.
No horse was a bigger disappointment in the Kentucky Derby than Goldencents. Heading into the race there was plenty of buzz surrounding the colt. After finishing 17th in the big race, it would appear that the hype probably had more to do with minority owner and University of Louisville basketball coach Rick Pitino.
At Pimlico he'll have the opportunity to redeem himself for the disappointing showing in Louisville. According to HorseRacingNation, his odds are set at 8-1, which is about as good as any horse's not named Orb.
He got off to a strong start in the Derby but faded down the stretch. This time, the conditions should be much better (the track in Kentucky was a mess) and it's a bit shorter at 1 3/16 miles. Goldencents is an excellent sprinter and his top-end speed should be on display here.
Throw in the fact that he'll be starting right beside Orb in the No. 2 post and this is definitely a horse to watch come race time.
Expect this race to turn out much better than the Derby did for Goldencents.
Departing may not have the experience that many of the horses in the field have, but that doesn't mean he's not a contender. The three-year-old gelding didn't run in the Kentucky Derby but has won four of his last five starts.
In his last start at the Illinois Derby, he was able to make a six-wide move to take the lead and breeze to the finish line for an easy victory. While nothing will be easy here, it shows that moving to the front of the pack from his No. 4 starting post is not out of the question.
Despite the lack of name recognition and work against elite competition, Departing comes in at 5-1 odds, which is a testament to this horse's exciting potential.
Coming out of nowhere to win the Preakness will be challenging, but this is a fresh horse that could give Orb a challenge down the stretch.
The highest placer from the Kentucky Derby (fourth) to be included in the Preakness field, Mylute is probably the most well-known challenger to Orb's run at history.
Mylute will be ridden by the only female jockey in the field, Rosie Napravnik. She has serious skills with 118 wins in the first four months of the season and a good showing in the Derby.
Mylute came on strong to finish the Derby and came within four lengths of Orb, but couldn't quite complete the comeback—something that could be attributed to the massive field of horses that compete at Churchill Downs.
In this race, there won't be nearly as much congestion with a nine-horse field.
The extra space could be just what Napravnik and Mylute need to pull off the upset and ruin Orb's shot at winning the Triple Crown.