Orb Returns to Track; McGaughey Pleased
Story by: Jenny Kellner
Kentucky Derby winner Orb returned to the Belmont Park main track Thursday morning for the first time since his fourth-place finish in the Preakness, galloping a mile and leaving Hall of Fame trainer Shug McGaughey happy with what he saw.
“I was pleased,” said McGaughey of Orb’s 6 a.m. outing under regular exercise rider Jennifer Patterson. “We’re taking it as it comes and not looking too far ahead. But if everything goes well, we’d like to run in the Belmont.”
The 145th running of the Grade 1, $1 million Belmont Stakes on June 8 is expected to attract a large field including Preakness winner Oxbow, currently at Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas’ barn at Churchill Downs. Lukas, who has won four editions of the “Test of the Champion,” also is expected to saddle Will Take Charge, seventh in the Preakness, in the 1 ½-mile Belmont.
Other likely starters, according to Andrew Byrnes, stakes coordinator for The New York Racing Association, Inc. (NYRA), are Peter Pan winner Freedom Child; Giant Finish, 10th in the Derby; Derby runner-up Golden Soul; and a sizeable Todd Pletcher contingent including Revolutionary, Overanalyze, and Palace Malice, third, 11th and 12th, respectively, in the Derby. The Pletcher-trained filly Unlimited Budget, third in the Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks, Micromanage and Midnight Taboo are also under consideration, with recent allowance winners Code West and possibly Power Broker representing Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert.