Oxbow, the winner of the Preakness Stakes on Saturday, left Pimlico Race Course early Sunday morning, and a couple of hours later, so too did Orb, who won the Kentucky Derby and was fourth in the Preakness. But there is a good chance they could meet again June 8 in the Belmont Stakes, the final leg of the Triple Crown.
Oxbow traveled by van Sunday back to Louisville, Ky., where he is based at Churchill Downs with trainer D. Wayne Lukas, who won his record 14th Triple Crown race Saturday and his sixth Preakness.
Regarding the Belmont, Lukas said, “I like to rack ’em up. I’ll probably go.”
Lukas had last won the Preakness in 1999 and had last won a Triple Crown race in the 2000 Belmont with Commendable. Since 2000, he was winless with 31 starters in 22 Triple Crown races until Oxbow’s victory.
Orb was sent by van to BelmontPark, the home of the Belmont Stakes, where trainer Shug McGaughey keeps his main string from spring until fall. McGaughey said Orb “looks to me like he came out of the race fine,” but added that he wanted to get Orb settled at BelmontPark before committing to the Belmont.
“We’ll get him up there and evaluate him, then see where to go,” McGaughey said at Pimlico on Sunday morning as light rain fell outside. “I want to see him bounce back, see his soundless level, his energy level.”
[PREAKNESS STAKES: Race replays and reactions from Pimlico]
McGaughey took solace in having won the Derby two weeks ago.
“Winning the Derby was my lifetime dream, and we won it,” he said. “I would have loved to have won yesterday and taken it to another level.”
Instead, the Triple Crown will go unclaimed for another year. It has not been swept since Affirmed in 1978.
McGaughey trains Orb for Ogden Mills “Dinny” Phipps and Stuart Janney III. He said he would talk with both about the Belmont.
“Usually, all race decisions are mine,” McGaughey said. “If he’s in good shape, I think they’d both love to run in the Belmont. They’re both big New York fixtures, big NYRA fixtures.”
McGaughey said if Orb skips the Belmont, summer racing at Saratoga would likely be next.
If Oxbow and Orb meet in the Belmont, it will mark the fourth time since 2001 that the winners of the Derby and Preakness have squared off in the Belmont. The last time that happened was just two years ago, with Animal Kingdom and Shackleford, both of whom were beaten by Ruler On Ice.
Itsmyluckyday, second in the Preakness, will be considered for the Belmont but is more likely to point for races like the Haskell at Monmouth Park, where trainer Eddie Plesa Jr. has a string of horses in the summer.
Mylute, third in the Preakness, is possible for the Belmont.
The Belmont is expected to include Golden Soul and Revolutionary, who finished second and third in the Derby.
Todd Pletcher, the trainer of Revolutionary, also is pointing Overanalyze to the Belmont. His fillies Dreaming of Julia and Unlimited Budget are possible but not nearly as certain as Revolutionary and Overanalyze.
Other Belmont contenders include Freedom Child and the Bob Baffert-trained duo of Code Westand Power Broker.
– additional reporting by David Grening