I was asked a few times before the Kentucky Derby if I thought there was a chance a horse could win the Triple Crown since Affirmed last did it 35 years ago. Orb was my one and only choice and now he has a legitimate shot going into the second phase after his strong performance in the slop at Churchill Downs two weeks ago. His dominating victory by 2½ lengths in the Derby — while pulling away — makes it hard for me to believe that any of his rivals coming out of that same race can reverse the outcome of today’s race. The new shooters Orb will face today are entitled to move forward but still rank well below the favorite. I’ll be keying Orb in my exotic tickets while using some major players beneath him. Payoffs in the Preakness are not as attractive as they are in the Derby but still can pay handsomely. Over the past 15 years, the Exacta and Trifecta payouts are well above average.
ORB The nervous whispers started as soon as Orb was assigned the rail position for Saturday’s race. Folks, this is not a problem for him. He won the Fountain Of Youth Stakes starting from the rail with the same amount of runners as today’s race. He will sit closer to the pack but I expect jockey Joel Rosario to sit dead last before picking his rivals off one-by-one. Orb trained wonderfully this week. Trainer Shug McGaughey called it “breathtaking” and also said Orb was more impressive than the workout before the Derby.
DEPARTING Coming off the Illinois Derby victory by 3¼ lengths in closing fashion, Departing, when circling the field, is the most logical new threat to Orb. This well-rested 3-year-old has won four of five starts with his only loss in the Louisiana Derby finishing behind Revolutionary and Mylute. A concern would be that it was not the toughest of fields in Departing’s last victory in the Illinois Derby.
MYLUTE Another closer who finished fifth in the Derby, losing by 4 lengths after running into some minor traffic problems. I do like the fact that he seems to be improving each race and has been training well. Will have to make his closing kick sooner running a 1/16 of a mile shorter today but won’t have the congestion with the smaller field.
WILL TAKE CHARGE No runner had a worse trip in the Derby than Will Take Charge, who practically came to a traffic stop running alongside Orb in closing but was still able to finish eighth. Better trip puts him in the mix for Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas who last won this race in 1999 with Charismatic. Should get a nice price.
If I had to choose one runner who could rebound with a better performance it would have to be ITSMYLUCKYDAY, who finished 15th in the Derby. I’m hoping he didn’t like the slop and that the race didn’t take too much out of him. Should be near the front pressing the pace but will have to get out quickly coming from the outside post or he could end up running wide in the first turn.
$2 Trifecta (1 with 4,5,7,9 with All)
$1 Trifecta (1 with All with 4,5,7,9)
$4 Exacta (1 with 4,5,7,9)
Total Bets $100