Orb has made the impossible jump from Kentucky Derby favorite to champion, but that feat will only be the start of what will continue at the 2013 Preakness Stakes as the colt goes to extend his bid at the Triple Crown.
After entering Saturday's race with 5-to-1 odds, Orb was trying to become just the fifth favorite in the last 25 years to reach the winner's circle and did just that in a thrilling late push past the field.
Starting out of the 16th gate and behind as many horses heading into the final turn, Orb showed great resilience and late stamina with his run that quickly ended a tight race with still seconds left.
Much of that is due to his unique pedigree that, unlike most of his fellow competitors, is blended perfectly for the mile-and-a-quarter race. Horses tend to struggle with the track due to it being longer than most other competitive races, and that's where Orb stands out.
Orb gets a lot of his late-race stamina from his dam Lady Liberty. She used to race—and win—at 1 1/2 miles, which is all but a foreign memory for today's race world.
After looking into Orb's pedigree, it's obvious that the three-year-old colt's ancestors played a big part in allowing him to reach victory at Churchill Downs on Saturday. But it wasn't all in the lineage.
Trainers are the ones who put all of the blood, sweat and tears into the horse's conditioning and abilities, and there's no doubt that Claude "Shug" McGaughey made a huge difference in Orb's preparation. The Kentucky native finally reached the winner's circle for the first time along with owner-breeder Phipps family.
McGaughey and Phipps have long stood behind one horse heading into the derby and not seen it pay off, but they found the perfect match in Orb to complement their style of breeding and training. Instead of pushing horses to their limits and focusing on making it to Churchill Downs, these few focus on what the horse needs to do to be in best physical condition for the big races.
Orb's trainer will put all of his time into the derby winner over the next few weeks, figuring out what needs to be done to put the colt in the best position possible to pull off another late victory at the Preakness. According to Jay Privman of Daily Racing Form, the 62-year-old trainer expects nothing less from his champion.
Jay Privman @DRFPrivman
McGaughey, from this morning, regarding Preakness for Orb: "I'd be disappointed if he didn't run the same as he did yesterday." #preakness2013-5-5 15:19:09
Add all of this up with 28-year-old jockey Joel Rosario, who has become one of the elite jockeys in the sport despite his young age and seems to be a generational jockey who will ride many derby winners throughout his career.
No other jockey could've brought Orb to victory Saturday, as Rosario weaved through impossibly tight spots with ease. Coming out of the final turn near the back of the pack, Orb was able to navigate around a clump of horses to get just far enough outside to push past the field.
All of Orb's positive attributes blend together perfectly for what should be a serious threat to the Triple Crown.
It's important not to jump to conclusions with any derby winner, but Orb is the real deal and has everything you'd expect in a Triple Crown contender.
Follow me on Twitter