Affirmed was the last horse to win the Triple Crown. His trifecta of victories came in 1978 and marked the second straight year a horse accomplished the feat. Heading into the Preakness Stakes, Orb has a legitimate chance to end the drought.
Ultimately, the Preakness should be the easiest of the three races for Orb. The Kentucky Derby had a field of 19 horses and the Belmont Stakes features more distance. If the derby winner is as dominant as he looked two weeks ago, he should cruise at Pimlico.
Races aren't run on paper, though. Orb will have to go out there and outperform eight other talented three-year-old horses to move within one victory of the Triple Crown. Let's analyze his chances of coming out on top as well as those of the other top contenders.
All odds are courtesy of the race's official site.
1. Orb (1-1)
One of the most astonishing things about Orb's Kentucky Derby triumph was how easy he made it look. Near the back of the field for most of the race, he made his move during the final turn and was in firm control before the finish line.
It was an effortless move. Orb overcame more than a dozen horses without being pushed to the limit. That bodes well for his chances against a much smaller field. It also gives him some margin for error in case he gets off to a poor start.
Breaking from the inside gate won't be an issue since there aren't as many horses charging toward the rail. As long as jockey Joel Rosario is able to control his pace in the early going, there's no reason to believe Orb won't end up in the winner's circle.
2. Mylute (5-1)
Mylute serving as the second oddsmakers' choice for the morning line highlights the shaky field. His best overall performance was a second-place finish in the Louisiana Derby. He's won just two of his 10 career starts, neither one being a Graded Stakes race.
Furthermore, Mylute finished fifth in the Kentucky Derby. So while he's shown some flashes of promise, starts like a seventh-place showing in the Risen Star Stakes makes it tough to believe he'll be able to keep pace with Orb.
That's not to say Mylute wouldn't be a good option for some exotic wagers. It wouldn't be a surprise if he slips into third place or potentially even second. Outlasting Orb without having defeated an elite field would be a shock, though.
3. Departing (6-1)
Departing, who didn't race against Orb and Mylute in the first leg, is an intriguing horse. He won the Illinois Derby with a time fractions quicker than Orb's win in the Florida Derby, which was his last start before the Kentucky Derby and at the same distance.
It doesn't prove that he's a better horse than Orb, but it does illustrate that he's capable of going stride for stride with him on his best day. And all it takes is one good trip in the Preakness to derail dreams on Orb winning the Triple Crown.
Unlike Mylute, Departing has proven he can win big races. Along with the Illinois Derby, he also won the Texas Heritage Stakes. Although it would take a perfect ride from Brian Hernandez Jr., it's impossible to count him out. Orb is the rightful top choice, however.