All the people at Belmont Park want is a shot. They were living large in the three straight years at the beginning of the century when the Kentucky Derby winner took home the Preakness as well. Recently we’ve seen the Derby winner come up short in the second jewel of the Triple Crown in six of the last eight years. Crowds at the Belmont Stakes and the energy around horse racing always suffer when there isn’t much drama at the Belmont Stakes. Thankfully, Orb is going to give them hope this year.
The first phase in the process went swimmingly. The unexpected lightning-fast pace in the Kentucky set Orb up for a perfect closing trip. Jockey Joel Rosario bided his time early and didn’t get caught up in the madness. He saved Orb’s energy and casually waited until the right moment to let him loose on the outside. He gobbled up horses down the stretch and won with relative ease.
He put on such a strong performance that there are only five horses of his competitors from the Derby wanted a second shot at him in the Preakness despite the shorter distance benefiting the field more than it benefits Orb. The question on Saturday won’t be who wins the race. That’s going to be Orb. (And I realize this isn’t rocket science. He’s an even-money favorite. Just stay with me here.) It’s who finishes behind Orb that can make you some money at the window. Let’s take a look at the field.
1 – Orb – Even
We’ve said almost all there is to say about Orb. If you doubt him a little bit, just know that he ran a great workout on Monday at Belmont. He’s ready to go.
2 – Goldencents – 8/1
He was one of the favorites in the Derby and he laid an egg by finishing in 17th place. He got caught up in the hot pace early and didn’t seem to take to the muddy surface well. It’s possible that he was also overrated coming out of the California circuit. I think he gets caught up in another fast pace on Saturday.
3 – Titletown Five – 30/1
If a hole opens up in the ground and the rest of the field falls into the earth, then this horse has a shot to win.
4 – Departing – 6/1
The only race he lost was a third place finish behind Revolutionary and Mylute, who both fared well on Derby Day. He comes in well rested having not raced in over a month and will likely be close to the fast pace at the front. A lot will depend on whether or not he gets a good trip from a less experienced jockey.
5 – Mylute – 5/1
There is something appealing about Mylute. He runs the same racing style as Orb and he tends to always be in the mix. He’s only had one bad performance in his last five races and that was three races ago. With seven top-3 finishes in his ten lifetime races, he seems sure to be in the picture for this one. He’ll likely be in the same position as Orb when it comes to a final move.
6 – Oxbow – 15/1
Gary Stevens had a nice post position for his horse in the Derby and thus kept him near the front before fading late. I’m still not buying the jockey/trainer (D. Wayne Lukas) combination because Oxbow hasn’t raised his game when called upon.
7 – Will Take Charge – 12/1
Here we have the horse that seems to generating some buzz. He ran well in the Derby and was right there with Orb before getting stuck behind other horses near the final turn. The switch to a more experienced jockey gives hope that it won’t happen again. He’s definitely good enough to be in the mix.
8 – Governor Charlie – 12/1
The least experienced horse in the race is likely to be near the front given the way he’s been training lately. He’s won his last two races, but he’s jumping up to run against the big boys. I don’t think he’s good enough to compete.
9 – Itsmyluckyday – 10/1
Finally we have a horse that was getting good press going into the Derby and then fell flat on his face. There’s a lot of talk that he didn’t like the sloppy racetrack in Kentucky and the effort was a blip. He’s been training well, so a rebound is very possible.
Predicted order of finish:
3. Will Take Charge