Preakness 2013: Top Contenders to Watch For at Belmont Stakes

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Preakness 2013: Top Contenders to Watch For at Belmont Stakes
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The 2013 Preakness Stakes displayed impressive top-tier contenders, which are also the key to increasing the Belmont Stakes' appeal.

Also, the New York Racing Association gave a glimpse of the potential competitors on Sunday:

“He [Orb] was already in his stall when I got back here and seemed to be fine,” said [Shug] McGaughey. “We’ll walk him a good while this afternoon and just kind of see what we have. The Belmont Stakes is on our radar screen."

According to NYRA stakes coordinator Andrew Byrnes, Oxbow currently is slated to face Freedom Child, Golden Soul, Overanalyze, Palace Malice, and Revolutionary. Bob Baffert will run either Code West or Power Broker. Itsmyluckyday is possible.

That said, expect the field to be much more competitive in New York than Pimlico. It's also the longest of the tracks for the Triple Crown. Therefore, instantly switching gears from the Preakness will prove difficult, especially since Pimlico is the shortest of the legs.

Ultimately, the following are the best to eye when Belmont's gates open up.

 

Orb

After taking the Kentucky Derby, Orb entered the Preakness on a five-race win streak.

Even better was his exciting comeback down the stretch at Churchill Downs. The victory, which was by more than I'll Have Another's from 2012, set up an expected win leading into Pimlico.

Although Orb and jockey Joel Rosario didn't get the job done, finishing in fouth place keeps the duo among the best challengers for Belmont. Just as we saw in Kentucky, Orb put on a similar display in the Triple Crown's second leg by starting slow and then kicking in toward the end.

That becomes an advantage on the longer courses, whereas it works against him when there's less time to catch up. Given that Belmont is the longest of the legs, anticipate Orb to hover back then make an exciting move as the finish line nears.


Oxbow

Oxbow took sixth in Kentucky, but vaulted up to No. 1 at Pimlico to ruin Orb's chances for the Triple Crown.

At the Derby he remained with the front of the pack for quite a while. Unfortunately, fading after the final turn Oxbow slipped back and Orb was able to take over. Fast forward to the Preakness, though, and jockey Gary Stevens had his racing companion explode out of the gates.

He first gained control of the lead before the initial turn, set the tempo and then maintained it throughout the track. Possessing the top speed to fend off down the stretch, Oxbow has the acceleration to echo this in Belmont.

Now he'll have to start out a bit slower to save a kick, but the gallop to hang in the middle will pay dividends on a longer course.


Mylute

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Don't sleep on Mylute. After finishing fifth in Kentucky and third during the Preakness, Mylute has proven the ability to hang with the fastest throughout each turn.

Now it's simply a matter of getting more kick to finish on a stronger note.

Jockey Rosie Napravnik also has over 1,500 wins to her name and knows how to orchestrate a consistent race. The challenge is keeping up with Oxbow and Co. from the start, and also outlasting contenders such as Orb toward the finish.

The extended distance offered by Belmont even adds another dimension to the competition. Regardless of the pace, sustaining a spot in the middle and gradually picking up speed is to Mylute's advantage.

His stamina was solid at the Derby, as well as the speed at Pimlico. A fusion of the two at Belmont will gradually allow Napravnik to pull away from the pack before anyone kicks it in.

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