Belmont Park Notes: Orb Returns to Belmont following Preakness loss

Story by: NYRA Press Office


Orb returns to Belmont Park following Preakness loss; Preakness winner Oxbow ships to Churchill, is expected for G1 Belmont Stakes
After skipping Preakness, Pletcher has deep lineup for Belmont Stakes

Trainer Shug McGaughey was back at his Belmont Park barn Sunday afternoon, the day after Orb’s Triple Crown bid ended with a fourth-place finish in the Preakness. The son of Malibu Moon arrived at Belmont at 11:30 a.m. on Sunday and McGaughey reported that his charge had shipped back home well and will be monitored in the coming days before a decision on the Grade 1, $1 million Belmont Stakes on June 8 is reached.

“He was already in his stall when I got back here and seemed to be fine,” said McGaughey. “We’ll walk him a good while this afternoon and just kind of see what we have. The Belmont Stakes is on our radar screen.

“I talked to Mr. Janney this morning. He and Mr. Phipps had talked on their way to the airport. We just all came to the conclusion that we should just watch Orb and see. I think everything is in good shape. We’d like to run. But yesterday took a little bit out of him and he’s already run five times this year and it’s only the middle of May. I’d sure like to have him fresh for Saratoga and a Jim Dandy/Travers kind of a go.

“He’s just going to have to tell us what we want to see. If he’s jumping out of his skin, we’re going to bring him over here [to run in the Belmont Stakes]. I might know in about a week. I just have to wait and see. Everything’s gone great all year until yesterday. But I don’t anticipate any problems. I don’t think he’s knocked out by any means.”

Oxbow, the Preakness Stakes winner, departed Pimlico before dawn on Sunday and vanned to trainer D. Wayne Lukas’ barn at Churchill Downs, according to Pimlico officials. The colt is expected to aim for the Belmont Stakes.

According to NYRA stakes coordinator Andrew Byrnes, Oxbow currently is slated to face Freedom Child, Golden Soul, Overanalyze, Palace Malice, and Revolutionary. Bob Baffert will run either Code West or Power Broker. Itsmyluckyday is possible.

After bypassing the Preakness, trainer Todd Pletcher has a deep group of contenders for the Belmont Stakes.

“We have a few candidates, but we haven’t firmed up the lineup just yet,” said Pletcher. “Overanalyze breezed this morning [four furlongs in 47.50 seconds over the training track] and breezed well. We are planning to run him. We breezed Palace Malice [four furlongs in 47.49, training track] and talked to [Cot] Campbell [of Dogwood Stable]. We plan to run him. Revolutionary will have two breezes starting next Sunday. We plan to run him. Mike Repole is going to be the key to how many other horses we run. He has several possibilities [in addition to Overanalyze]. Unlimited Budget breezed this morning [four furlongs in 49.07, training track], and she is possible. Micromanage is here and will breeze next Sunday, and we’ll make a decision after that.”

WinStar Farm’s Revolutionary, winner of the Grade 3 Withers in February at Aqueduct Racetrack and the Grade 2 Louisiana Derby in March at Fair Grounds, was Pletcher’s highest finisher in the 2013 Kentucky Derby, reporting home third, beaten 3 ½ lengths by Orb. Overanalyze, victorious in the Grade 1 Arkansas Derby in April at Oaklawn, was 11th in the Derby, with Grade 1 Blue Grass runner-up Palace Malice tiring to 12th after setting a fast pace.

Unlimited Budget, third in the Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks on May 3, would be attempting to emulate Rags to Riches, who in 2007 became the first filly since 1905 to win the Belmont. Rags to Riches is Pletcher’s only Belmont Stakes winner to date. Micromanage is exiting a neck victory in an optional claimer on May 11 at Monmouth Park.

Pletcher is a former assistant to Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas, who on Saturday picked up his sixth Preakness victory when he sent out Oxbow to a front-running win under Gary Stevens.

“I was very happy for Wayne and Gary; it was a tremendous accomplishment for both of them,” said Pletcher. “I thought Gary rode a very, very smart race and took advantage of the pace scenario, and the horse delivered a big performance.”