Kentucky Derby winner Orb will travel to Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore on May 14 to begin final preparations for the Preakness Stakes.
Hall of Fame trainer Shug McGaughey confirmed yesterday that Orb will run in the middle jewel of horse racing’s Triple Crown, which is scheduled for May 18.
McGaughey got his first career Kentucky Derby win two days ago as Orb, ridden by Joel Rosario, beat 18 other horses in covering the 1 1/4-mile (2-kilometer) track in 2 minutes, 2.89 seconds at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky. It was the fifth straight victory for the 3-year-old colt, which finished 2 1/2 lengths ahead of longshot Golden Soul on a sloppy track.
“We are tickled to death with the way he ran yesterday and he seemed to come out of the race well,” McGaughey, 62, said yesterday from Louisville before traveling with Orb back to Belmont Park in New York. “I am looking forward to getting there. We had a great two weeks down here and I am sure our time at Pimlico will be every bit as good.”
McGaughey’s only previous Preakness starters were Pine Circle, which was fifth in 1984, and Easy Goer, who finished second to Sunday Silence in 1989.
At least five horses that challenged Orb in the Kentucky Derby are also set to be at the Preakness, according to the Maryland Jockey Club. Fifth-place finisher Mylute leads the group, which also includes Oxbox (6th), Will Take Charge (8th), Itsmyluckyday (15th) and Goldencents (17th).
Other probable entrants include Illinois Derby winner Departing, Sunland Derby winner Governor Charlie, Southwest runner-up Fear the Kitten and allowance winner Bellarmine.
There hasn’t been a Triple Crown winner since 1978, when Affirmed swept the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont Stakes, which is scheduled for June 8 in New York.
Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas, a five-time winner of the Preakness, will be represented at Pimlico by two of Orb’s top challengers in Oxbow and Will Take Charge.
“We are all going to have to get better to beat him,” Lukas said. “The Preakness will be the biggest hurdle for him for the Triple Crown. If he gets by that, he gets to go back home to Belmont and run right out of his stall.”
The 139th running of the Kentucky Derby equaled 2010 for the second-biggest television audience in 21 years, NBC said yesterday, citing data from Neilsen Co.
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