By Gene Kershner
The first leg is in the books. A horse named Orb will take aim at the elusive Triple Crown. Now that I mention it, is there any other term that gets the term elusive attached to it more than the Triple Crown? It's been 35 years, the longest drought in history and to keep the excitement building, the horse that dominated the late stages of Saturday's Kentucky Derby will have to beat fresh horses and familiar horses alike next weekend in Baltimore.
Several runners from last weekend's Derby are willing to take another shot, hoping for a dry track this time at Old Hilltop. Likely horses that will try and avenge Orb's victory include Goldencents, Vyjack, Will Take Charge, Oxbow, Itsmyluckyday, Mylute and potentially Normandy Invasion. Chad Brown will make a decision on Normandy after training this weekend.
Horses hoping to join the Triple Crown trail for the first time include Govenor Charlie, Street Spice, Titletown Five and Illinois Derby champion, Departing. The second and third place finishers in the derby, Golden Soul and Revolutionary are pointing at the Belmont Stakes.
Parting Derby Thoughts
- According to Trakus, Orb ran 6,721 feet which was longer than all but two horses in the Derby (Frac Daddy ran 12 more feet; Vyjack ran 18 more feet). That's an even bigger testament to Orb's race. He ran the final quarter in 25.88 and final half in 51.02, much the best of all of the runners.
- When I encountered Robbie Albarado and Dallas Stewart on the track after the race, they were exuberant about Golden Soul's tremendous finish, maybe too much so. Albarado was shouting that he was ready for Round two in the Preakness, reminding all that could hear that he had won it before(Curlin, 2007). It appears cooler heads have prevailed and the Perfect Soul colt will point instead at the Belmont, where his pedigree certainly seems to fit better.
- Todd Pletcher after having five horses in the Derby will not be sending any to the Preakness, but will instead regroup his troops and look to make amends in the Belmont Stakes. Revolutionary ran a
very good race, but was taken too far back and ran out of real estate. Not that anyone was going to beat Orb on the First Saturday in May, but a second place finish was not out of the question, running his final quarter in 26.09, second fastest behind Orb.
- With all the hype about Rosie Napravnik and history, she's just a good race rider. She had Mylute in great position and finished strong in fifth place taking a similar route down the center of the track as Orb. I think he could be a threat at Pimlico.
- From a betting perspective, it was a great wagering race as six horses were less than 10-1 at post time, but none lower than 5-1 (Orb - 5.4). The $2 exacta with Golden Soul came up just short of a grand and a nice $1 exacta key box with Orb for $38 would have netted close to $500.
- If you missed it earlier this week, Buffalo ranked sixth nationally in Derby ratings and share according to Nielsen figures released earlier in the week.
- There's a lot of noise on the internet about Will Take Charge's trip and that he was running stride for stride with Orb before checking sharply at the 3/16th pole when he ran into a tiring Verrazano. I'm not sure he improves much more than a spot or two in the final finish, but he'll take a lot of money at the windows in Baltimore because of it.
Preakness Weekend Tidbits
- Bona Venture Stables' Summer of Fun, third place finisher in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf is slated to run on the Black-Eyed Susan undercard. We'll check in with managing partner Dan Collins in next week's column.
- Looks like D. Wayne Lukas will have three entries in the Preakness after saying earlier in the week that Titletown Five will enter. Hello, fast pace!
- The Pimlico Special will once again be part of the Black-Eyed Susan Day card, spicing up the Friday card with a handicap race for older horses.
- The Orioles have a 4:05 p.m. game scheduled versus the Rays on Preakness day, which unfortunately will coincide with the heart of the stakes races next Saturday.
TBN Preakness Coverage
I'll be on site at Pimlico starting on Friday morning and will provide the following coverage next week:
- Wednesday: Post Position Draw (Sports, Ink)
- Thursday: Preview of Black-Eyed Susan and Pimlico Special Thoughts (Sports, Ink)
- Friday: Post-race coverage of the Black-Eyed Susan (Sports, Ink)
- Saturday: Preakness Advance (Print, online)
- Saturday: Live blog from Pimlico (Sports, Ink)
- Sunday: Preakness Recap (Print, online)