Belmont Stakes 2013: Orb Will Reclaim First Place at Triple Crown's Last Leg

Andrew GouldFeatured ColumnistJune 7, 2013

Orb is the horse to beat at this Saturday's Belmont Stakes.
Orb is the horse to beat at this Saturday's Belmont Stakes.Al Bello/Getty Images

If the Belmont Stakes is truly a two-horse race between the past two big winners, consider Orb the one to beat this Saturday.

Even though the thoroughbred could not keep the Triple Crown bid alive at the Preakness States, Orb still sports the edge over Oxbow and the rest of the field. According to the Daily Racing Form, he is the favorite at 3-1 odds.

Smart oddsmakers. While they made it no fun to actually bet on Orb, that appears to be the sensible selection.

So what does the Kentucky Derby champion bring to the table that trumps the competition?

The colt has not finished below fourth place in nine races, making the Preakness one of his worst showings. Yet he still came awfully close to placing, and that type of consistency is rare among horses, humans or any other species.

That shows a durability to handle the longer length, as Orb has not worn down in the final stretches. Endurance is pivotal to pass The Test of the Champion, which spans 1.5 miles.

Although Orb's fifth post position does not look like anything to celebrate, the spot has yielded 13 victories, tied with the third slot for the second-most wins. Even if you want to chalk that up to pure coincidence, at least it shows that it won't negatively affect Orb in any way.

The man at the helm also boosts Orb's chances. Jockey Joel Rosario is one of the best at what he does. As calculated by Equibase, he has netted $9,840,739 in earnings, the most of any jockey. Rosario has won 23 percent of his races, landing top-three finishes 55 percent of the time.

All is also going well leading up to the big event. According to Horse Racing Nation, Orb ran well in a recent workout, and trainer Shug McGaughey said "he's traveling well over the track."

Some of those factors can be used in reverse for Oxbow, a more up-and-down competitor with fifth, sixth and seventh-place finishes to his name.

Before Oxbow won the Preakness, trainer D. Wayne Lukas had not seen one of his investments win any of the three major legs since 2000. Jockey Gary Stevens also cannot boast a track record similar to Rosario's long line of accolades.

If you're a risk-taker looking for a dark horse, nobody is stopping you. Just remember that Orb is the favorite for a reason.