Orb trainer not worried by inside rail for Preakness
Trainer says it won't affect the Kentucky Derby winner in a nine-horse field
Kentucky Derby winner Orb will start today's 138th Preakness from the usually unfancied rail, but trainer Shug McGaughey likes his colt's chances even with the inside starting spot.
Orb will try to win the 1.9km event at Pimlico to sustain hopes for the first US flat racing Triple Crown sweep since Affirmed in 1978, which would also require the three-year-old to capture the Belmont Stakes on June 8.
Going from the inside often means the horse is charging while the entire field of rivals is trying to claim the same space for the shortest line around the track. But in a nine-horse field, McGaughey is not so worried.
"It's a pretty straight start," he said. "They won't be jockeying for position as much going into the first turn as they did in the Derby. We'll hold our position, see how the race plays out and take it from there."
No horse has won the Preakness starting from the rail since Tabasco Cat in 1994.
Orb, the even-money favourite, might also benefit because he tends to back off the pace early in the race as he did at the Derby, where a field of 20 might have consigned him to an also-ran spot had he drawn the rail.
"It's not nearly [as bad] as it would be for the Derby," he said.
In all, 12 horses have won the Derby and Preakness since 1978 but none has taken the longest race, at Belmont, to become the 12th Triple Crown winner.
"It's a very hard thing to do. That's what makes it so special," veteran trainer Graham Motion said. "If it was easy, it wouldn't be so special."
Orb, on a five-race win streak, has earned US$2,335,850 and is McGaughey's first Preakness entrant since 1989.
Making the US$1 million race even better for Orb is jockey Joel Rosario, who won March's US$10 million Dubai World Cup aboard Animal Kingdom.
"To have the year that he started off with this year makes us that much more confident," McGaughey said.
Mylute, with Rosie Napravnik aboard, is second with oddsmakers at 5-1 followed by Departing at 6-1 and Goldencents with jockey Kevin Krigger at 8-1.
Krigger, from the US Virgin Islands, could become the first black jockey to win the Preakness since Willie Simms aboard Sly Fox in 1898. Krigger will be only the seventh black jockey in the Preakness, and first since 1985.
Napravnik will become only the third woman jockey in the Preakness and first since 1994.