Preakness 2013: Biggest Keys for Orb in 2nd Leg of Triple Crown

Tim DanielsFeatured ColumnistMay 18, 2013

BALTIMORE, MD - MAY 17: Exercise rider Jennifer Patterson takes Kentucky Derby winner Orb over the track in preparation for the 138th Preakness Stakes at Pimlico Race Course on May 17, 2013 in Baltimore, Maryland.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Rob Carr/Getty Images

A picture-perfect morning at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore will soon give way to anticipation as Orb attempts to back up his Kentucky Derby victory in the Preakness Stakes. A win would move him within one triumph of the elusive Triple Crown.

Orb was downright dominant during the stretch run of the Kentucky Derby. He breezed past horses with ease, and it still didn't seem like he was forced to give 100 percent effort. He was simply the best horse in the field, and he will try to replicate that performance today.

Eight other talented horses will attempt to end Orb's Triple Crown run before it reaches Belmont Park. Let's check out the biggest keys to success for the Kentucky Derby champ to ensure that doesn't happen in the second leg.


Early Pace

The Kentucky Derby was a perfect race for Orb. Jockey Joel Rosario watched as several other horses, including Preakness counterparts Goldencents and Itsmyluckyday, helped set an unsustainable lightning pace in the first half of the race.

By the time Orb was ready to make his move around the final turn, the other top contenders were already burnt out from trying to keep up early. It allowed him to go from near the back of the field to the front it what seemed like a blink of the eye.

It's up to Rosario to read the race again. If the lead pack decides to fly through the first turn again, he has to hold Orb back. If it's a slower pace, he'll want to stay closer to the leaders. By the middle of the backstretch it will be clear if Orb is in good position.


Staying Inside

One of the most impressive things about Orb's derby triumph was the fact it could have been even better. He won by 2.5 lengths, but Randy Moss of NBC Sports points out it would have been six lengths if the factors were equal.

The biggest difference for Orb was the extra amount of distance he traveled, which isn't a surprise considering his outside post position. In the Preakness, he'll start from the inside gate, and that should help eliminate that disadvantage.

Rosario should do his best to ride the rail around the entire track. Fellow jockey Calvin Borel, who doesn't have a Preakness mount, has made a career out of that strategy. It's the best option to put Orb in position for a victory.


Energy Level

Endurance is a major factor during Triple Crown season. A horse has to win three races over a five-week span—easily the most grueling assignment of his young career. It helps explain why no horse has pulled off the feat since 1978.

The good news for Orb is that he's won on a two-week turnaround before. His first career victory came at Aqueduct last November, 14 days after a fourth-place finish. DRF passed along a picture of the talented colt eating some pre-race fuel with hopes of matching that success.

The true test will come as the field turns for home. Rosario will once again ask Orb for that finishing kick. Whether or not he's able to provide it will show where his energy level stands. Should he win, it will be an even bigger concern in the Belmont Stakes.