Too much Orb? Not enough Orb? Just the right amount Orb? When you run a racing website with just three writers, you ask about the formula – all the time.
The first time we mentioned the eventual Kentucky Derby winner in an article on thisishorseracing.com was in late March, before the Florida Derby – about a month after we went live. In a preview of the Florida Derby, trainer Shug McGaughey talked about a January workout and a conversation with exercise rider Jen Patterson. In typical McGaughey fashion, he discussed about how he wasn’t sure about his horse. The Hall of Fame trainer would have been content with a race or two this winter, then a return to allowance company or a small stakes at Aqueduct where Orb broke his maiden late last year.
Instead, the 3-year-old blossomed in the Sunshine State – going from maiden winner, to allowance victor to stakes winner to Derby favorite. All the while, McGaughey kept the Phipps/Janney product at Payson Park Training Center. The Indiantown, Fla. base is off the grid when compared to Gulfstream Park in Hallandale Beach or even the new Palm Meadows in Boynton Beach. It’s quiet. Slow. And horses, and horsemen, thrive. There’s something – more than something – to be said about a trainer letting a horse develop into a Derby prospect, about watching, waiting, trying, listening, feeling. McGaughey did all that in Florida, and kept getting all the right information from Orb. The son of Malibu Moon, a stallion who began his career in Maryland, vaulted from the obscurity of Aqueduct in November to everybody’s living rooms on the first Saturday in May.
Now, we get to see the next step. Can Orb land the Preakness for the Phipps family, for the Janneys (longtime Marylanders), for McGaughey, for all of us?
Knowing his trainer, the horse will get every chance.
The thisishorseracing.com highlights on Orb.
March 29. Shug…Continued
April 26. Still in the Orb
May 1. Time for the game face
May 3. Opportunity of a Lifetime
For the record, he won by 2 1/2 lengths over Golden Soul with Revolutionary third and Normandy Invasion fourth. Joel Rosario rode the Kentucky-bred, who earned more than $1.4 million and gave all of his connections their first Derby win.