Orb didn't get out to a fast start in the 2013 Preakness Stakes, which ultimately cost him the Triple Crown's second leg.
Never getting above the third position as the race progressed, the shorter and quicker track proved to work against Orb. Fortunately, he still has an opportunity to finish strong at the Belmont Stakes on June 8.
If they race, who wins the Belmont Stakes?
The Belmont, at one-and-a-half miles, is similar to the mile-and-a-quarter Kentucky Derby; both are longer than the Preakness at a mile-and-three-sixteenths. Not to mention there won't be exceedingly high expectations going in. After taking the sloppy conditions at Churchill Downs on May 4, Orb had won five straight races.
Mesh that added pressure with a track not built to his favor, and the Preakness' result was not surprising.
Now there's no pressure to win the final leg, and jockey Joel Rosario can orchestrate with ease. Factor in more time to make a comeback move before the stretch, and Orb's talent will shine.
Plus, there will be added incentive to win should Oxbow—the winner of the Preakness Stakes—also compete. In an article by Richard Rosenblatt of the Associated Press via Yahoo! News, each horse looks to be on par for Belmont:
Both trainers are giving every indication their classic-winning colts will run in the Belmont on June 8.
"You know me," Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas said. "I like to rack them up in the big events. So, I'll probably go."
Trainer Shug McGaughey says he'd like to run Orb in the Belmont as long as the colt is doing well.
"The Belmont Stakes is on our radar screen," McGaughey said.
And now with the chances of the first Triple Crown winner since 1978 out the door, horse racing can still remain marketable for its third big race. Orb and Oxbow has evolved into a mini-rivalry, and Belmont is an appealing tiebreaker setting.
Bob Baffert also gave some optimism, according to Tim Wilkin of the Albany Times Union:
Baffert: "Orb will still be waiting for his grain, and he doesn't think he did anything wrong. We love these animals. Orb will be back."— Tim Wilkin (@tjwilkin) May 19, 2013
Obviously the edge goes to Orb here, though, as evidenced by each race before Pimlico.
Belmont is 12 furlongs in length, which is greater than Churchill Downs. Therefore, anticipate a slower tempo out of the gates; as it picks up, Orb's approach will then take advantage.
Considering the disappointing result from the Preakness, instantly responding in the next big race just offers closure—because taking two of three Triple Crown races is still quite impressive.