Oxbow won the 138th running of the Preakness Stakes this past Saturday in wire-to-wire fashion, which proved that Hall of Fame jockey Gary Stevens still has plenty in the tank even after a seven-year retirement.
That unfortunately thwarted a Triple Crown bid for Orb, who was trapped near the rail for most of the race after starting in post position No. 1, and he never made a legitimate charge, finishing fourth.
According to Horse Racing Nation, Oxbow is a probable entry into the Belmont Stakes, and Orb is considered "possible." Mylute should also be in action on June 8, as jockey Rosie Napravnik looks to become just the second female to win a Triple Crown event.
Below is a list of the results from the Preakness followed by early predictions for those who Horse Racing Nation believes will make a Run for the Carnations on June 8.
Note: All statistics and information, unless otherwise indicated, are courtesy of Preakness.com.
|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|
Oxbow's Preakness-winning time of 1:57.54 wasn't exactly blistering, but he still managed to stay at least a nose ahead of the entire field throughout the 9.5 furlongs at Pimlico Race Course.
Speed is what Oxbow is typically known for, and he managed to be fast enough to be in front the whole way. That's at least part of what prompted legendary trainer D. Wayne Lukas' high praise after the race, per KY Derby Contenders on Twitter:
Stamina is going to be the biggest key for Oxbow on the 1.5-mile track at Belmont Park, which requires the most endurance of any of the three Triple Crown stops.
Considering how well Stevens paced Oxbow in the Preakness and how he galloped at a consistently swift speed throughout, his chances have to be favorable in Elmont, New York.
As much as I like Oxbow and consistently stood by him leading up to the Middle Jewel, though, the post position that Orb was saddled with changed the complexion of that race. Oxbow should have another stellar run, but not strong enough to get to the winners circle again.
The other two top finishers set to run in the Belmont should be among the first three, but I like Revolutionary to also be in there over Oxbow.
Prediction: Fourth place
After a respectable third-place finish in Baltimore, jockey Rosie Napravnik registered the highest finish by a female in the Preakness' storied history. However, that won't be good enough for her moving forward.
Mylute only has two victories in 11 career starts, and given that he also came in fifth at the Kentucky Derby, he seems destined to break through.
The most encouraging element of Mylute's prior record is that he's continually improved. In the six races leading up to Churchill Downs, his speed increased each time out. Even on the sloppy track in Louisville, Mylute was in good position but faded slightly down the stretch while encountering traffic issues.
That was unfortunately the case in the Preakness. Even with Napravnik's immense experience at the track she started her career at, the nine-horse field still gave Mylute trouble.
As long as Mylute can break further to the outside earlier in the race and maintain whatever modest pace is set at the lengthy Belmont, he should be in the running to emerge victorious.
Mylute's trend of progression suggests he's due for something big, and for Napravnik, who is paving the way for females in the industry, it would be a landmark achievement that would give horse racing a significant boost. I think it will ultimately happen.
It's hard to have any doubts about Orb, given his prior triumph in the Kentucky Derby and the fact that he has 2013's best jockey in Joel Rosario getting the mount.
Having said that, he was the 3-to-5 favorite when the starting gates opened at Pimlico, and Rosario simply could not find a lane to truly attack from. By the time any opportunity presented itself, Orb was well out of the running for the Woodlawn Vase.
ESPN's Skip Bayless broke down what went wrong this time around for the talented winner of the Run for the Roses:
Circumstances dictated Orb's letdown at the Preakness, though, because starting closest to the rail is a big disadvantage. The shortest of the three Triple Crown races was supposed to work in sprinters' favors, but the pace that Stevens set aboard Oxbow dictated a rather surprising outcome.
Orb should bounce back with a far better performance in the Belmont Stakes if he runs. Trainer Shug McGaughey should enter him, despite the disappointment of not achieving horse racing's highest honor.
With such formidable physicality and a strong workout at Belmont Park leading up to the Preakness, there is all the upside in the world for Orb to thrive in the last leg of the Triple Crown.
Yet as the previous breakdown indicates, Mylute will be the one to finally put it all together and beat out Orb at the finish in a thrilling race.