The 2013 Preakness Stakes is like many others in the last 35 years. With Orb’s win at the Kentucky Derby, the colt is now in line for a historic Triple Crown bid—an accomplishment not completed since Affirmed won thoroughbred racing’s ultimate prize in 1978.
But like so many of those previous Derby victors, Orb faces an uphill battle to secure the second and third legs of the Triple Crown. His pursuit commences Saturday evening at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore, Maryland.
The Shug McGaughey-trained colt drew the No. 1 post, pinned between the rail and 9-1 challenger Goldencents. While Orb has 4-5 odds of triumphing at Pimlico (per Bovada.lv), poor positioning and a few strong challengers may be enough to keep the Triple Crown out of reach for another year.
Let’s take a look at three challengers most likely to derail Orb’s Triple Crown hopes prior to the final leg at Belmont on June 8.
|1||Orb||Shug McGaughey||Joel Rosario||4-5|
|2||Goldencents||Doug O'Neill||Kevin Krigger||9-1|
|3||Titletown Five||D. Wayne Lukas||Julien Leparoux||33-1|
|4||Departing||Albert M. Stall, Jr.||Brian Hernandez, Jr.||7-1|
|5||Mylute||Tom Amoss||Rosie Napravnik||17-2|
|6||Oxbow||D. Wayne Lukas||Gary Stevens||18-1|
|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|
*Odds acquired from Bovada.lv
3. Itsmyluckyday (Post 9, 10-1)
Itsmyluckyday didn’t produce a strong finish at Churchill Downs (15th place), but the Eddie Please Jr.-trained colt is by no means a long shot at the Preakness.
One of the fastest sprinters in the field, Itsmyluckyday won’t be deterred by the No. 9 starting post. In fact, the colt has more than enough tactical speed to emerge from the outside down the stretch, unaffected by the bunching that will likely occur closer to the rail.
Orb’s position next to the rail may mean trouble toward the end of the race, when top challengers like Goldencents and Departing are positioning for a strong finish on the inside. If the Derby winner gets pinned to the rail and can’t break free, Itsmyluckyday could be the horse to take advantage.
The Holy Bull Stakes winner has a rare blend of tactical speed and endurance that will allow jockey John Velazquez to adapt to the pace and positioning of the rest of the field. Without a challenger to his outside, Itsmyluckyday could easily come from off the pace to take down a first-place finish.
2. Goldencents (Post 2, 9-1)
Like Itsmyluckyday, Goldencents failed to impress at Churchill Downs, despite favorable odds and adequate post positioning.
But the Doug O’Neill-trained colt isn’t without the ability to triumph at Pimlico. Arguably the fastest pure sprinter in the field, Goldencents could be an extremely dangerous challenger if he can manage to position himself ahead of Orb out of the gate.
Running from the No. 2 post, Goldencents can gain a huge advantage by assuming the lead ahead of Orb. Without adequate space between Goldencents and the rail, Orb will be cut off from setting the pace, forced to wait for an opportunity to emerge from the pack later in the race.
Orb certainly has the ability to do just that, but Goldencents won’t make it easy. Look for the latter to break quickly from the gate and assume an early lead at Pimlico.
1. Departing (Post 4, 7-1)
One of the three new shooters in this race, Departing doesn’t have the benefit of having run with Orb at the Kentucky Derby.
Which horse has the best chance of upsetting Orb at the Preakness?
That may not be much of an issue, however.
The Albert Stall-trained colt has the best odds of derailing Orb (7-1), due in large part to his success on longer tracks.
Unlike many thoroughbreds in this year’s field, Departing has raced most of his events on tracks of a mile or longer. With four wins in five starts (three of which were a mile or longer), Departing shouldn’t struggle with Pimlico’s 1 3/16-mile track.
The colt also benefits from a good post draw that should keep the inside wide open. At 33-1, Titletown Five is unlikely to pose much of a threat to the Illinois Derby winner.
We already got a good look at Goldencents and Itsmyluckyday at the Derby, but don’t be surprised it the field’s best new shooter surpasses all the Derby challengers en route to a dominating first-place finish at the Preakness.