May 20, 2013
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With the weight of the entire racing world on its shoulders, Orb choked at the Preakness Stakes, finishing fourth in the race despite coming into the day with even odds to win. It was, in a word, disappointing.
But all is not lost for the horse. The Belmont Stakes is still on tap, and with it, the chance to earn two-thirds of a Triple Crown. And despite a poor run at Pimlico, Orb should still be the favorite in New York.
And it looks like the horse will be making the trip, according to Ed Zieralski of The San Diego Union-Tribune:
As expected, Orb will be pointed to the last leg of the Triple Crown, the Race of Champions, the Belmont Stakes. As far as McGaughey is concerned, taking two out of three in the Triple Crown will be just fine.
"Hopefully, he'll come out of all this fine and we'll go ahead (in the Belmont Stakes)," McGaughey said. "We'd like to, but we'll see how he's doing. He looked good. We'll just get him home to some familiar ground, familiar surroundings. We'll play it from there and hope we're in the ballgame three weeks from now."
Orb won't just have the chance to make up for a poor performance at the Preakness, the horse can also exact some revenge against winner Oxbow, who almost assuredly will be racing in the Belmont Stakes.
It's important to remember a few things about Orb's run at the Preakness. For one, the horse got caught inside early and never seemed comfortable in that position. For another, Orb simply didn't fire like at the Kentucky Derby, when his late push won the race.
And the Preakness is a sprint, meaning any early discomfort or poor positioning can be deadly. The Belmont Stakes, on the other hand, is the longest of the Triple Crown races. If Orb can stay relatively close to the front of the pack early, the horse's strong closing kick should end in a win.
Expectations for Orb were probably off the charts to begin with. At one point, Orb was being listed as a 3-5 favorite. It's as though we were all asking for the universe to break our hearts with the amount of expectation and confidence we all put in one horse.
Still, Orb has always been one of the most talented horses in play at the Kentucky Derby and Preakness, and was steadily one of the favorites at Churchill Downs despite other horses getting more attention or becoming bettor darlings due to the wet track.
Orb was ultimately underestimated before the Derby and proved his worth then. Doubting him now after a bad run at Pimlico—with a more favorable track at the Belmont Stakes to come—would be a mistake as well.
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