Oxbow won the 138th running of the Preakness Stakes on Saturday, denying Orb's chances at a Triple Crown and holding off late charges by Itsmyluckyday and Mylute for a wire-to-wire triumph.
Considering that Orb was a 3-to-5 prohibitive favorite and Oxbow was the second longest shot in the field at 15-to-1, the results were rather unexpected. Pat Forde of Yahoo! certainly couldn't believe what he saw:
However, it was the third Preakness win for jockey Gary Stevens, and a record 14th Triple Crown winner for trainer D. Wayne Lukas, who along with Stevens is a Hall of Famer.
Below is an overview of the entire field, followed by analysis of the horses who finished in the top three at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore.
|1||Oxbow||Gary Stevens||D. Wayne Lukas||6|
|2||Itsmyluckyday||John Velazquez||Eddie Plesa Jr.||9|
|3||Mylute||Rosie Napravnik||Tom Amoss||5|
|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|
Win: Oxbow (15-1)
This was Stevens' third time aboard Oxbow, and as it turns out, the third time was a charm. Stevens was still seeking a marquee victory coming off of a seven-year retirement, while Oxbow needed to justify his hype with a strong finish.
Oxbow's speed was never in question, but his consistency had been. This was a magical occasion in which Stevens finally got the proper feel for him, and when Oxbow capitalized on his immense potential.
Signs of progress surfaced at the Kentucky Derby, where Stevens rode Oxbow to sixth place. Despite the sloppy, 10-furlong track, the colt was able to weather the arduous, physical test well before fading down the stretch.
Pimlico is slightly shorter, and was labeled as a fast track. Both factors played into Oxbow's hands well, as did Stevens' experience as a champion.
Orb was stuck in traffic after drawing the No. 1 post position, which prevented him from seriously threatening. Thus, the modest pace Stevens set was never quite matched when he unleashed Oxbow down the stretch.
The result was the Preakness' first wire-to-wire victor in 31 years, as Yahoo! Sports pointed out:
Oxbow also became the 16th winner from post position No. 6—the most in the race's history. This is an emphatic a return to form for Stevens, and an indicator that the oddsmakers heavily underestimated Oxbow.
Place: Itsmyluckyday (8-1)
Another Hall of Fame jockey in John Velazquez got the mount for trainer Eddie Plesa Jr., and that was at least partly attributable to Itsmyluckyday's status as the No. 2 favorite just ahead of the race's start.
Plesa had an interesting comment following his horse's close call in pursuit of the Middle Jewel, per KY Derby Contenders on Twitter:
The swift pace at Churchill Downs set by Palace Malice caused Itsmyluckyday to run out of steam on the sloppy track, and he ran to a disappointing 15th there. After finishing second only to Orb in the Florida Derby, more was expected from him.
With a more experienced jockey in Velazquez getting the mount in Baltimore, though, the results were far more positive.
Oxbow didn't race out of the gates in quite the fashion that Palace Malice did, which worked in Itsmyluckyday's favor. The nine-horse field also gave Velazquez plenty of room to operate on the outside.
However, it proved to not be quite enough, as Itsmyluckyday never capitalized on the slower pace and faster track to run the entire
Show: Mylute (11-1)
Not to make it all about the jockeys, but Rosie Napravnik was chasing a big piece of history. She would have been the first female to win the Preakness Stakes, but her third-place finish was still a substantial achievement.
Darryl Slater of The Post and Courier highlights the history Napravnik made aboard Mylute in Baltimore:
Of course, Napravnik would have loved to come out on the winning end—especially since she started her career at Pimlico when she was merely 17, winning her first mount aboard a horse called Ringofdiamonds.
Now she's only 25, which means Napravnik will have opportunities to capture the ultimate prize in Triple Crown races for years to come.
Mylute encountered traffic problems throughout, particularly in the final few furlongs. Part of that was Napravnik's reluctance to push Mylute early on, which caused him to fall off the pace and have to play catch-up from the beginning.
By the time Mylute made his big move, the lateral movement required caused him to run out of gas as the finish approached.
It wasn't quite what Napravnik and trainer Tom Amoss were hoping for, but it was still an extremely strong run by Mylute. He could have easily given Napravnik a landmark win if circumstances were slightly different.
Note: Statistics, odds and prior results, unless otherwise indicated, are courtesy of Preakness.com.