Photo courtesy of Eclipse Sportswire
Everything Orb did coming out of the Florida Derby - the way he cooled out, how he looked and trained the week after - told us what the next step should be should we choose to go that direction. We kept him at Payson Park Training Center longer than most of our horses because he really liked it there and he was obviously thriving.
After he shipped to Churchill Downs, we were seeing the same things - he liked the track, was doing great and was still improving. All week there was a very calm feeling unlike other big races. I can't put my finger on why going into one of the biggest races of our lives it was like this.
[Trainer] Shug McGaughey and I would talk and say, “if it's meant to be it will be.” The horse was ready.
As most of you know or are now learning, we are pretty close to everyone involved in caring for our horses - starting with the men and women at Claiborne Farm then Niall Brennan’s team and onto Shug's barn.
Ah, Shug’s barn, that may be the most special part of this Derby win for me. The group he has selected is certainly the part of this that brings out the most emotion in me. They have become good friends over the years.
Shug, Jen Patterson, Robbie Medina, and Orb’s groom, Enrique, with some assistance from Mark Philips and Carol Williams, all worked tirelessly this winter not only to put Orb in the best position to win a Kentucky Derby but with of all our other horses, and it shows.
Looking back on this past Derby, there were so may unbelievable things and so many nice moments like the lady who stopped me before the race and told me she had waited 30 years to get to the Derby and wished us well. Or waking up Sunday morning to hundreds of texts and emails congratulating us and wishing us well in the Preakness.
The one thing I will regret was not being able to go back to the barn and celebrate with the people who got us there after Orb's finish. We all talked and texted, but it’s not the same. There is nothing like walking into the barn after a big race and seeing the joy, satisfaction and maybe a few tears on everyone’s faces.
ORB'S CONNECTIONS CELEBRATE DERBY WIN
So what’s next?
Orb is bright-eyed back in his stall at Belmont and came out of the race great. He will work at Belmont and then ship down to Pimlico on May 14. Hopefully, I will still have that calm feeling again, but I don't think so.
The one thing I do know is I'm not flying home until Sunday because I'm not making that mistake again.
NFL STAR QUARTERBACK TOM BRADY CELEBRATES ORB'S WIN