Kentucky Derby winner Orb was made an even-money choice for Saturday's Preakness at Pimlico in Baltimore.
BALTIMORE — The Preakness draw was over, and trainer Shug McGaughey listed a variety of reasons why he was OK with having Kentucky Derby winner Orb starting Saturday’s race at Pimlico from the rail.
Then someone asked him, “If you had your choice, where would you want to be?”
Without hesitation, McGaughey responded, “The outside.”
Since 1961, one Preakness winner — Tabasco Cat in 1994 — has started from the inside.
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Despite getting post 1 in Wednesday’s draw, Orb was made an even-money favorite to win the 138th Preakness and keep alive his bid to become horse racing’s first Triple Crown winner since Affirmed in 1978.
“I saw it bounced around in the papers that we would be 4-5,” McGaughey said. “I am a little surprised that with him being even money, the next shot (Mylute) was 5-1. That’s a pretty good spread. We’ll see what the public does.
“Like I always say, I wish every horse I run would be the favorite.”
Orb won the Kentucky Derby from post 15 in a field of 19. The colt is seeking his sixth straight victory as part of the smallest Preakness field — nine — since 2007, when Curlin won the 1-3/16-mile race.
Starting from the inside won’t help, but McGaughey reasoned it is a lot better than getting the rail at Churchill Downs for the Derby.
“It’s not nearly the problem it would be in the Derby,” he said. “The Derby is kind of catty-cornered. You got to shove your way out of there or you get shut off down in there. It’s pretty straightforward here. There are only nine horses. There’s not going to be that kind of jockeying into the first turn.”
Hall of Famer McGaughey, known to be among the most conservative and unemotional horsemen in the game, cannot contain his excitement about Orb.
“I think there’s more there,” he said. “What really surprises me is how he comes out of his races, not only mentally but physically. Looking from behind, the sun was shining on him, and I was looking at a different horse than I saw a week ago and two weeks ago.”
Does he have a potential Triple Crown winner?
“I wouldn’t be telling the truth if I said, ‘No,’ ” McGaughey said. “I try to block it out, but if you’re in this position, anybody would think about it. Of course, you get reminded of it quite often. It’s a thrilling thought, but we’ve got to get by Saturday. If we get by Saturday, it’ll be quite an interesting three weeks (before the June 8 Belmont Stakes).”
|Field for 138th Preakness|
|Race is Saturday at Pimlico in Baltimore, post time 3:20 p.m. PDT, Ch. 5|
|7||Will Take Charge||Smith||12-1|