If Orb is going to win the 2013 Preakness Stakes, he'll have to do it the hard way.
He drew the first position in the race, meaning he'll start against the rail. Drawing No. 1 has been unkind to horses at Pimlico (h/t David Grening of Daily Racing Form):
David Grening @DRFGrening
Tabasco Cat (1994) only Preakness winner from the rail since 1961. #orb5/15/2013, 10:12:08 PM
With only nine horses in the field, though, Orb won't have to deal with as much competition. He might get stuck against the rail early, but holes should open up that would allow him to make the moves necessary to get in the lead.
There's no doubting Orb is strong enough to continue his push for the Triple Crown, but he could be in trouble if he can't get off the rail.
In case you missed it, the field for the Preakness Stakes is listed below (h/t Preakness Stakes Twitter feed):
Preakness Stakes @PreaknessStakes
@PreaknessStakes the 138th draw http://t.co/dL6WHfi2155/15/2013, 10:18:33 PM
Here are three horses with starting spots that will be a boost at the Preakness Stakes.
Running right next to Orb will be Goldencents. Kentucky Derby aside, this is a great horse. He was one of the favorites at Churchill Downs but only managed a 17th-place finish. It's the kind of result Kevin Krigger will look to be atoning for at Pimlico.
Starting out at No. 2 will mean Goldencents isn't immediately stuck against the rail. He's a great sprinter, so he'll have enough space to be able to start well and not get pinned in with nowhere to go.
The track itself is also a nice boost to the horse. Pimlico is shorter than Churchill Downs, which benefits strong sprinters like Goldencents, and the weather should be much better, thus resulting in a better running surface.
Mylute and Rosie Napravnik have the best of both worlds. Starting out at No. 5 means Mylute will be right about in the middle of the pack. He won't get stuck on the inside, yet he'll have plenty of room to make a move on the outside if necessary.
This is a horse with a nice combination of speed and power. The Derby helped in part to separate the fast horses from the powerful horses. Mylute demonstrated his power during the race. Finishing fifth was a nice result from him considering the muddy track.
With only two career wins, there should be some skepticism as to whether Mylute has enough to win at the Preakness. This is still a horse that has more than enough to finish near the top at the very least.
Normally getting stuck on the far post could spell doom. Or starting in ninth would mean getting bunched up with nowhere to go. With only nine horses in the field, Itsmyluckyday is in a fantastic position in ninth on the outside.
Itsmyluckyday is a strong sprinter, and getting on the outside will allow him to either set the pace early or hang near the pack before making a late move.
Then you've got a legendary jockey in John Velazquez. The Preakness is the only Triple Crown race missing on his resume as he won the Derby in 2011 and Belmont Stakes in 2007 and 2012. Velazquez has had more time to recover from the injury he suffered the day after the Wood Memorial, so that can only be a help as well.