The owners of Affirmed can crack the proverbial champagne, as the Triple Crown drought will continue pushing into its fourth decade after Saturday's 138th Preakness Stakes.
Starting from the sixth post, underdog Oxbow came from 16-1 pre-race odds (via Bovada) to end Orb's quest for history. The Kentucky Derby winner was unable to find that extra gear against the nine-horse field, getting lost in a sea of horses down the stretch en route to finishing fourth.
The John Velazquez-jockeyed Itsmyluckyday finished second, while Rosie Napravnik's Mylute came in third place.
But Saturday's story was all about Oxbow. Jockeyed by Gary Stevens and trained by D. Wayne Lukas, Oxbow got off to a roaring start. The three-year-old colt took the lead from the opening gate and never once relinquished the advantage for a wire-to-wire triumph. You can take a look at the full results of Saturday's race on the video embedded below.
Meanwhile, the run was one of disappointment for Orb, who burst onto the scene with a dominant performance at Churchill Downs. Shug McGaughey's top colt came in as the heaviest favorite in a Preakness since Big Brown and was thought of as a legitimate Triple Crown threat.
However, it was clear that the horse didn't have an extra gear to come from behind as the folks at Pimlico Race Course saw one of the more shocking upsets in the sport's recent history.
As always is the case in major horse-racing upsets, the payout fallout is often as intriguing as the race itself. With that in mind, here is a look at the complete results for the 2013 Preakness Stakes along with the payout for each of the three top finishers:
|1||Oxbow||Gary Stevens||D. Wayne Lukas||6||$32.80, $12.00, $6.80|
|2||Itsmyluckyday||John Velazquez||Eddie Plesa Jr.||9||$7.80, $5.00|
|3||Mylute||Rosie Napravnik||Tom Amoss||5||$5.20|
|4||Orb||Joel Rosario||Shug McGaughey||1|
|5||Goldencents||Kevin Krigger||Doug O'Neill||2|
|6||Departing||Brian Hernandez Jr||Albert M. Stall, Jr||4|
|7||Will Take Charge||Mike Smith||D. Wayne Lukas||7|
|8||Govenor Charlie||Martin Garcia||Bob Baffert||8|
|9||Titletown Five||Julien Leparoux||D. Wayne Lukas||3 |
Results via NBC telecast, payouts via America's Best Racing.
Underdog Oxbow Steals the Show
Of the horses thought most likely to prevent Orb's run at a Triple Crown, Oxbow was at or near the bottom of the list. The D. Wayne Lukas-trained horse was one of three thoroughbreds ending the event for the legendary racing figure and had the second-highest odds of any entrant in Saturday's race.
Then the race started, and it became clear just what fine form Oxbow was in on Saturday. The colt burst out of the starting gate and was dominant from the outset. Oxbow's wire-to-wire win was the first time since Aloma's Ruler captured the 1982 Preakness that any horse has led the entire way, per Derby Contenders' Twitter feed:
Oxbow first wire to wire #Preakness winner since 1982.— KY Derby Contenders (@DerbyContenders) May 18, 2013
Perhaps, we should have seen this coming, though. The 77-year-old Lukas is arguably the greatest trainer in the sports history, a man now with a record 14 Triple Crown victories. Speaking on NBC's telecast after the race, Lukas noted his penchant for shocking the world.
I get paid to spoil dreams," said Lukas (h/t USA Today's Reid Cherner).
And while it's easy to have 20/20 hindsight, Oxbow's post draw also indicated a strong impending performance. As ESPN Stats & Information points out, the No. 6 post has produced the most Preakness winners in the storied race's history:
Oxbow wins Preakness from the No. 6 post position. The No. 6 horse has won the Preakness 16 times, the most of any post position.— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) May 18, 2013
For those who had faith in history repeating itself from a gambling standpoint, Oxbow was obviously a major win for anyone who took a chance. The $32.80 payout for a win bet is one of the largest in history and a signal that anything truly does happen in horse racing.
Orb Fails to Finish in Money
Oxbow's scamper to a dominant win may have shocked the world, but Orb's fall from grace disappointed it. The Kentucky Derby winner came into Saturday's race with the largest hype of any horse in a half-decade and it felt anticlimactic seeing Orb drop from contention down the stretch.
Granted, Orb was racing against a good bit of history. There hadn't been a Preakness winner from the inside post since Tabasco Cat in 1994—and that's the only one over the past five-plus decades. Even in smaller fields, the inside post is a death knell for plenty of top-notch horses, as opponents scamper to get inside position.
And as Chris Brown's Smart Football Twitter feed pointed out, starting on the inside gate left Orb squeezed a little too tight at a couple different points:
Orb had a tough race. Got squeezed a couple of times— Smart Football (@smartfootball) May 18, 2013
Nevertheless, it was obvious Orb did not have that extra gear on Saturday. Even when Joel Rosario finally got his horse some breathing room, the burst to the front was just not there. A horse that came in as -500 to finish inside the top three (per Bovada) came up one spot short.
Speaking after the race, trainer Shug McGaughey said he was disappointed mostly because of the fan letdown, per John Clay of the Lexington Herald-Leader:
Shug McGaughey said after race he was most disappointed because he felt like everyone was rooting nor him.— John Clay (@johnclayiv) May 18, 2013
It's a great sentiment from McGaughey, who is one of the sport's most beloved faces. But as we begin the lead-up to the Belmont Stakes, the sport again feels like something major is missing. There was no second triumph for McGaughey, Orb or any of the folks who spent countless dollars riding the hot hand.
Mylute Jockey Rosie Napravnik's Success at Pimlico Continues
Mylute was a fast-riser up the odds boards heading into Saturday's race, and it was likely a little puzzling for those who hadn't been paying attention. The three-year-old colt had run 10 races in its short career and only won twice—and not once during this calendar year.
Mylute's biggest banner performance of the 2013 racing season was a fifth-place spot in the Kentucky Derby. And while that made the Tom Amoss-trained horse the second-highest Derby finisher in this Preakness field, that was something of a backhanded compliment. This field had three different new shooters at the starting gate, all of which put this field in massive flux prior to Saturday.
However, the major reason Mylute being bet hard made sense was the presence of jockey Rosie Napravnik. The 25-year-old Napravnik came into the Preakness Stakes with an intricate knowledge of how Pimlico works. Her first victory was at the legendary track, where the New Jersey native spent much of her youth building up a strong reputation.
You could see that familiarity on display throughout Saturday's festivities. Napravnik expertly navigated Mylute through a sea of horses midway through the race, emerging and blowing past Orb en route to a third-place finish.
While not quite the history-making victory Napravnik was hoping for, she did become the highest-finishing female jockey in Preakness history. And as Amoss points out, Mylute looks like he's only going to get better going forward, per Derby Contenders' Twitter feed:
Amoss on HRTV says #Preakness was Mylute's best race. Says colt hasn't "caught up to his body yet."— KY Derby Contenders (@DerbyContenders) May 18, 2013
It's unclear whether Mylute will race in the Belmont, but Napravnik might just make history after all if he does.