Third place generally isn’t a disappointment. It is for Orb.
With a horse this good, you expected much more. Orb came into the Belmont Stakes as the big favorite. He won the Kentucky Derby and finished fourth at the Preakness.
There was every reason to think that Shug McGaughey was going to have this horse ready for Belmont Park.
Instead, Orb offered very little threat to win. He didn’t start the race too well, choosing instead to make a late push. Only it never came. He moved up in the field, eventually finished third, but he didn’t have enough to overtake Palace Malice or Oxbow.
USA Today’s Dan Wolken put it best:
Orb was a horse with so much hype and had a great run at Churchill Downs. It’s been downhill ever since then.
The results of the race can be seen below, per NBC's broadcast.
|1||12||Palace Malice||Mike Smith||Todd Pletcher|
|2||7||Oxbow||Gary Stevens||D. Wayne Lukas|
|3||5||Orb||Joel Rosario||Shug McGaughey|
|4||6||Incognito||Irad Ortiz Jr.||Kiaran McLaughlin|
|5||9||Revolutionary||Javier Castellano||Todd Pletcher|
|6||13||Unlimited Budget||Rosie Napravnik||Todd Pletcher|
|7||3||Overanalyze||John Velazquez||Todd Pletcher|
|8||11||Vyjack||Julien Leparoux||Rudy Rodriguez|
|9||14||Golden Soul||Robby Albarado||Dallas Stewart|
|10||10||Will Take Charge||Jon Court||D. Wayne Lukas|
|11||4||Giant Finish||Edgar Prado||Anthony Dutrow|
|12||8||Midnight Taboo||Garrett Gomez||Todd Pletcher|
|13||2||Freedom Child||Luis Saez||Tom Albertrani|
|14||1||Frac Daddy||Alan Garcia||Ken McPeek|
Here are three other horses who left a little to be desired with their finishes at Belmont.
Much like Orb, Revolutionary was planning to make a late kick toward the end. While that did come, Javier Castellano couldn’t make up for a slow start.
Revolutionary did manage to move up the field as the early leaders fell off. Rather than getting near the leaders, he only finished fifth. You were tempted to think that he could possibly make an incredible run, only it never came.
After a while, you knew Revolutionary wasn’t going to live up to the hype.
It was a similar result to the Kentucky Derby, when Revolutionary looked like a favorite but only finished third. That wasn’t a terrible finish and certainly much better than the Belmont Stakes.
Belmont looked like it would be a faceoff between Revolutionary and Orb. In a way it was, only not in the way either horse wanted: Which one was the bigger disappointment?
Perhaps the odds-on Unlimited Budget should have had slightly higher odds. After all, only three fillies have won the Belmont Stakes.
Still, this was a very strong horse who had a good jockey in Rosie Napravnik and a good trainer in Todd Pletcher. A third-place finish at the Kentucky Oaks was a good illustration of Unlimited Budget’s talent on the track.
It would have been a great story to have a female jockey take home the Belmont Stakes. But it just wasn’t to be.
Perhaps that was the most disappointing aspect. There was so much in the narrative between seeing a filly, owned by a New York native in Mike Repole, win with a female jockey.
It was just too good to be true.
You can’t be upset with the first half of the race for Freedom Child. He got out to a great start but faded really bad toward the end. You got the feeling that with the sheer length of the track, it would be a tad foolish to be the early leader and expend all your energy at the start.
Freedom Child demonstrated exactly why.
Luis Saez pushed the horse too hard too fast and paid dearly in the end. After he and Frac Daddy were among the early leaders, Belmont finished with those two occupying the last two places.
It wasn’t a huge surprise to see Frac Daddy at the bottom, but Freedom Child is a disappointment. While he wasn’t a top favorite, people expected Freedom Child to finish in the middle of the pack and perhaps threaten the race leaders.
He did manage to look like a winner early on, but it came at great cost.