After a short period of indecisiveness, trainer Shug McGaughey announced on Sunday that 2013 Kentucky Derby winner Orb will definitely run in Horse Racing’s third jewel of the Triple Crown, the 2013 Belmont Stakes, at BelmontPark in New York on June 8.
McGaughey made the statement after watching his good looking, stretch running colt work a half mile in :48.1 and gallop-out five furlongs in a smooth 1:00.2 over the Belmont surface.
Orb went to the track at about 5:50 am EST, with regular exercise rider Jennifer Patterson, and seemed to be on cruise control during the early part of the work. But when Patterson asked for more, Orb just exploded, with almost instant acceleration, while galloping out another eighth in :12 2/5.
After Patterson pulled him up and was coming off the track, Orb was feeling so good he actually tried to buck off Patterson.
“He started off nice and steady, which Shug wanted, and finished up strong,” said Patterson. “I gave him his head at the eighth pole and he opened up his stride. He did everything very easily. I didn’t have to encourage him at all. He came off the track and he was kind of spooking and playing, but in a good way. He’s just happy and feeling good. Everything went right this morning.”
“I have already called (co-owner) Mr. (Stuart) Janney and told him we’re all on the same page and if he (Orb) has a good week it’s a ‘go’ (for the Belmont),” McGaughey said
“I was looking for a strong gallop-out and we got what we were looking for. I want to have a good horse for the summer, but he’s doing good right now, and you never know what can happen between now and then.” McGaughey added
“I think if things go right Saturday, I think you’ll see a different horse than we saw two weeks ago.” McGaughey said.
Orb would be facing Preakness Stakes winner Oxbow and (at this writing) what appears to be about 13 others.
Assuming both make it to the staring gate this Saturday, it’ll mark the 21st time in which the winners of the first two jewels of the Triple Crown clash in the Belmont Stakes. (Of the last 21 meetings, the Preakness winner has won nine times compared to the Derby winner winning five times).
In other Belmont Stakes news:
**** Trainer Todd Pletcher, who had several Belmont Stakes hopefuls on the track this past Sunday, dropped the biggest bombshell of the week when he confirmed the mammoth filly Unlimited Budget will run.
Unlimited Budget worked a half-mile on Sunday in :47.2 and galloped out five furlongs in 1:00.
Pletcher said he was “happy” with the way the filly went and said afterward. “She was enthusiastic and didn’t have to be asked or encouraged at any point.”
Owner Mike Repole said Unlimited Budget’s physical size and her mental maturity level give him the idea the filly could hold her own against colts
“She’ll be one of the larger horses in the race,” said Repole, “She’s as big and tall, if not bigger, than many of these colts.
“The other thing is I think this year’s 3-year-old fillies are very talented and I think they stack up well against the colts.”
**** Overanalyze worked four furlongs in :48 flat in company with Caixa Eletronica and galloped out six furlongs in 1:13. Pletcher said he Overanalyze was “pretty willing” in the work.
**** Palace Malice, the kamikaze Kentucky Derby pace setter, breezed a half-mile in :47.2.
Pletcher said after the work that Palace Malice “did everything on his own” and recorded the third-fastest of 46 works at the distance.
**** Revolutionary worked a half mile in :48.2 and galloping out five furlongs in 1:00 2/5.
****Midnight Taboo worked five-furlong work in 1:00.4, but Pletcher didn’t seem to impressed with the work.
“He worked good, but he didn’t blow me away,” Pletcher said.
“Basically, He (owner Mike Repole) is holding the cards in terms of how many we end up running,” said Pletcher. “With Midnight Taboo, the Easy Goer Stakes is an option that day. It’s just a matter of how aggressive Mike wants to be, and take a shot with a horse that’s lightly raced but has some talent. It would be asking a lot for him to win the Belmont in his fourth start, but stranger things have happened.”
**** Godolphin’s Incognito worked a half in :48 1/5 Sunday morning on the Belmont training track. Trainer Kiaran McLaughlin he will entered Incognito “based off his pedigree alone”.
Incognito is by the great A.P. Indy out of Octave… those bloodlines do scream a mile and a half.
“He galloped out well and worked with a nice horse (Irsaal)” said McLaughlin. “He basically hasn’t missed any days of training or racing all year. We weren’t there to get him fit…. Just what we wanted.”
**** Peter Pan Stakes winner Freedom Child was cut loose passing the wire and around the turn on Sunday morning also. He went in :12 flat from the wire to the seven-eighths pole and then :13 for each of the next two furlongs.
“We just let him stretch his legs,” trainer Tom Albertrani said. “I was listening to the weather and it sounds like there’s going to be some heavy rain coming tonight. I was hoping to wait until tomorrow, but I said, ‘Let’s just get it done today while we’ve got a good track.’ Actually, he went really good.”
**** Trainer Ken McPeek confirmed Monday that Frac Daddy will also run in the Belmont Stakes.
McPeek said Frac Daddy, who finished 16th in the Kentucky Derby, will fly to New York from Kentucky today (Tuesday) and be ridden by jockey Alan Garcia.
“I was talking to Carter Stewart (the principal owner) and he’s game, you know?” McPeek said. “We still believe this is a really, really good horse, but for whatever reason it hasn’t happened for him. Sometimes you throw deep and it goes incomplete, but you can’t score if you don’t throw. (Stewart) is the ideal client to throw deep and we won the Travers for him last year (dead-heat winner Golden Ticket).”
“I do believe the horse will run well,” McPeek said. “I think the pace in the Belmont will suit him well, too. He drew outside in the Derby and couldn’t get position, and I don’t think he handled the slop. He’s worked on a dry track a couple times recently and worked freaky good. I think he’s got a big shot at it.”
**** Trainer Dominick Schettino said he and the owners will make a final decision on Always in a Tiz’s status for the Belmont by Tuesday afternoon. Schettino has it narrowed down to either the Belmont Stakes or the $150,000 Easy Goer Stakes on the Belmont undercard.
**** D. Wayne Lukas’ Belmont Stakes contenders Oxbow and Will Take Charge were scheduled to arrive at BelmontPark via van Monday evening.
****Monday morning rain prompted trainer Rudy Rodriguez to push back Vyjack‘s scheduled breeze one day. Instead, he galloped 1 1/2 miles over the Belmont main track with Rodriguez himself in the saddle. “He jogged a bit and galloped the wrong way,” said Rodriguez. “He was acting up a little bit and I didn’t want him fighting me, so I opened him up a little bit. He seems good.”