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Joel Rosario has a winning touch these days. And that's good news for Orb—and horse-racing fans in general—as the Preakness Stakes approach.
After leading Orb to a victory in the Kentucky Derby, the jockey kept his hot streak alive, riding Fiftyshadesofhay—one of the better horse names in recent memory, for what it's worth—to victory in the Black-Eyed Susan Stakes in the lead-up to the Preakness.
From Claire Novak of ESPN:
Jockey Joel Rosario's remarkable run continued May 17 when he cleverly brought Fiftyshadesofhay from off the pace to win the $500,000 Black-Eyed Susan Stakes at Pimlico Race Course.
Rosario, who will ride Kentucky Derby winner Orb in the Preakness Stakes May 18, took his mount in hand to rate sixth early on, atypical of her usual running style. After closing well and altering course to the outside in the upper stretch, the Bob Baffert-trained filly reached the wire in front under strong right-handed urging to win by a neck over 12-1 shot Marathon Lady.
This is how hot Rosario is right now—he ran a totally different style of race than what Fiftyshadesofhay generally runs and still led the horse to a win, according to the horse's trainer, Bob Baffert (via Novak):
"I said 'Ride her the way you feel,' and then when he had her back, I thought 'Oh boy, this is something new!'" Baffert remarked. "Is he a riding sunofagun or what? I thought she'd run well, but I was surprised when he took her back like that."
But Rosario's plan was to keep the horse to the outside and let it progressively build up to speed, and the plan worked to perfection.
Rosario now has a lot of pressure on his shoulders, however, as the entire horse-racing world hopes Orb can be the first horse to win the Triple Crown since 1978. And Orb isn't just the favorite, it's an overwhelming favorite, currently coming in at 4-5 odds, according to Bovada.
The next closest horse on the odds is Departing at 7-1. In other words, it will be a huge shock if Orb doesn't win the Preakness.
The Preakness could potentially cause Orb some problems, however. While the horse has proven in the past it can run off the leaders and handle a shorter track, Rosario had Orb run well off the pack in the Kentucky Derby and close in the end.
That strategy won't be viable in the Preakness, a shorter track that will require Orb to remain for closer to the pack then in the Derby. A slow start in this race could potentially cost the horse a shot at the Triple Crown.
But given Rosario's hot hand of late, it seems unlikely Orb will be done in by a poor strategy. If Orb gets out to an early start and keeps pace with the leaders, its hard to imagine the horse—or its jockey, Rosario—losing.
Age: 3-year-old fillies
Length: 1 1/8 miles