Photo courtesy of Adam Coglianese/NYRA
Orb galloped 1 ¼ miles under exercise rider Jenn Patterson at Belmont Park Friday morning as the Kentucky Derby winner continues preparations for the Preakness Stakes on May 18 at Pimlico Race Course.
“I was pleased with everything I’ve been seeing,” McGaughey said.
The Hall of Fame trainer has had trouble taking his eyes off the 3-year-old colt that provided him with his first Derby success at Churchill Downs on May 4.
“He’s filled out so much physically. I look at him and I can’t believe what I’m seeing from last November to now,” McGaughey said. “Mentally, everything’s come together. He was a bit difficult at the gate all of his 2-year-old year, and that’s all behind him. I couldn’t be more pleased with his development.”
Orb, who charged from near the back of the 20-horse field for a dominant 2 ½-length victory in the Kentucky Derby, extended his winning streak to five, starting with his maiden victory at Aqueduct last November.
In his two most recent starts in the Kentucky Derby and Florida Derby, Orb was well in well in front crossing the finish line, leading to speculation that he still has plenty of gas left in the tank.
“I think it’s because he’s getting it done quicker than we think he is,” McGaughey said. “In the Florida Derby, Johnny (Velazquez) said he got there quicker than he thought he would and he had to throttle him down. I think it was the same in the Kentucky Derby. He got to those horses quicker than he (Joel Rosario) thought he would.”
Orb has shown the ability to rally from well back in his races or settle a bit closer to the front if the pace is leisurely.
“He comes from back, but they don’t take him back. It depends on the color of the race. If it’s a fast pace, he’ll be off of it, but if it’s slow, I think he’ll actually be laying up close like he was in the Florida Derby – within four, five, six lengths,” McGaughey said. “And he’s got enough of a punch that you don’t take him out of the game plan when you do lay up close.”
ORB GRAZING AT BELMONT
Photo courtesy of NYRA
In other Preakness news:
Itsmyluckyday, who finished second to Orb in the Florida Derby before faltering to 15th in the Kentucky Derby, galloped at Monmouth Park Friday morning. Trainer Eddie Plesa Jr., who arrived at Monmouth Thursday afternoon from his South Florida home base, supervised the morning exercise.
“He looked as good to me as he did in Kentucky [before the Derby],” Plesa said. “His gallop today was very, very well into the bit. He’s just feeling very good.”
Forecasts for weekend rain in New Jersey caused Plesa to call an audible while mapping out Itsmyluckyday’s work schedule.
“I’m hoping to work him the next couple days. We’re expecting rain up here. I was initially going to work him Sunday, but I’ve moved it up to Saturday,” Plesa said. “We’ll see what it looks like tomorrow. I can work him as late as Monday. If something happens and it’s still raining on Monday, which it could be, I don’t have to work him, but my preference would be to work him.”
Plesa said Itsmyluckyday is tentatively scheduled to ship to Pimlico on Tuesday.
Goldencents turned in an enthusiastic gallop Friday morning at Pimlico Race Course under jockey Kevin Krigger. It was the first piece of serious exercise for the colt since he finished 17th in the Kentucky Derby. He returned to the track Thursday and jogged.
Krigger is spending the two weeks between the Derby and the Preakness with trainer Doug O’Neill’s outfit at Pimlico. He is the exercise rider for all 14 of the O’Neill horses stabled at the Baltimore track and has picked up a pair of mounts on the Saturday racing program at Pimlico, but his priority is Goldencents, the Santa Anita Derby winner.
Goldencents jogged for a half-mile and appeared to be very alert and interested when Krigger asked him to pick up the pace and gallop about six furlongs.
“This is the first time I’ve ever been able to gallop him and I got what I was looking for out of him – a pretty good, relaxed gallop,” Krigger said. “He stayed relaxed and that’s basically what I’m focusing on, letting him achieve the workouts that he needs, not be rank doing it and be comfortable and relaxed. I got that out of him this morning.”
Krigger is looking to become the third African-American rider to win the Preakness and the first since 1898 when Willie Simms won aboard Sly Fox. George “Spider” Anderson captured the 1889 Preakness with Buddhist. Six African-American riders have previously ridden in the Preakness. The last was Wayne Barrett, who finished eighth in 1985 with Sparrowvon.
GOLDENCENTS WINNING SANTA ANITA DERBY UNDER KRIGGER
Photo courtesy of Benoit & Associates
Illinois Derby winner Departing galloped “a spirited” 1 ½ miles in the words of trainer Al Stall Jr. on Friday morning at Churchill Downs. Owned by Claiborne Farm and Adele Dilschneider, Departing is scheduled to work Sunday morning at 8:30, walk Monday and then train the next two mornings before shipping to Pimlico on Wednesday.
GoldMark Farm’s and Whisper Hill Farm’s Mylute galloped 1 ½ miles at Churchill Friday morning. A decision on the Preakness status of the fifth-place Kentucky Derby finisher will be made Saturday morning.
“He trained well this morning and showed good energy. I was satisfied with what I saw and passed that on to the owners,” trainer Tom Amoss said. “After he trains in the morning, I’ll call the owners at seven and we will make a decision on the race.”
All three of trainer D. Wayne Lukas’ Preakness hopefuls, Oxbow, Will Take Charge and Titletown Five, galloped early Friday morning at Churchill. Lukas plans to van nine horses to Pimlico on Tuesday with a 3 a.m. departure from Churchill Downs.