10/03/2013 4:16PM

Belmont notes: McGaughey could run Orb again this year


ELMONT, N.Y. – Kentucky Derby winner Orb might not be finished running this year after all.

Orb, who has spent most of the past four months training at the Fair Hill Training Center in Maryland, has returned to Belmont Park, where on Wednesday he galloped over the main track. Orb finished last – without an apparent excuse – in last Saturday’s Grade 1 Jockey Club Gold Cup here.

Trainer Shug McGaughey, who has sung the praises of Fair Hill all summer, said he wanted the horse at Belmont, where he could monitor his progress.

“I just got to try to figure it out,” McGaughey said as he watched Orb gallop under exercise rider Mark Phillips. “I got too much going on where I can’t be going down there as much as I was.”

After Orb went past the finish line, McGaughey said, “He looked good to me. We’ll see how he goes and make some sort of decision here.”

While the Breeders’ Cup is an unlikely option, McGaughey said he mentioned to co-owner Stuart Janney III, who was at Belmont on Thursday, “There’s always the Cigar Mile, too.”

On Monday, Janney said Orb was likely done racing for this year and that he would make a decision regarding next year at a later date.

Coincidentally, Orb won a one-mile maiden race last year on the Cigar Mile card at Aqueduct. It was the start of a five-race winning streak that included the Fountain of Youth, Florida Derby, and Kentucky Derby.

Along with Orb, McGaughey brought the Grade 1 winner Hymn Book back to Belmont Park after he had shipped to Fair Hill following his third-place finish in last Saturday’s Grade 2 Kelso.

McGaughey said he saw enough from Hymn Book out of that race to point him to the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile at Santa Anita on Nov. 2.

“I thought he ran really well,” McGaughey said. “We put the blinkers on him; we put him in the race. One of the speed horses didn’t break. That kind of hampered us, where we were between horses the whole way.”

McGaughey said in the Dirt Mile, “You’re going to get a pace. Two turns ain’t going to hurt him.”

Velazquez nears another milestone

Already this year, jockey John Velazquez has won his 5,000th career race and become the all-time leading rider in races won at Saratoga. Now, he is approaching yet another milestone: the all-time leading rider in North America in purse money won.

Entering Thursday’s card at Belmont Park, Velazquez’s mounts had earned $296,829,387, putting him $1,085,452 behind Pat Day’s record of $297,914,839.

As he has done with his previous accomplishments, Velazquez downplayed the significance of the achievement.

“We’ve got more racing – there’s more money, there’s more racing dates, there’s more races, period,” said Velazquez, who recently passed Jerry Bailey for second on the all-time list. “It’s nice to see your name up there, but it was so much different when they did it. Realistically, I don’t think it’s anything that big because they did it at a much different time.”

Velazquez will be riding at Keeneland on Friday through Sunday. On Saturday, he will ride Wise Dan in the Grade 1, $750,000 Shadwell Turf Mile.

Wise Dan’s appearance in that race saved Velazquez from having to make a difficult decision about whom to ride in Saturday’s Grade 1 Champagne at Belmont Park. He had ridden both Havana, trained by Todd Pletcher, and Honor Code, trained by McGaughey, to good-looking debut victories at Saratoga and would have had a difficult choice to make.

“I was kind of committed to the horse of Todd’s; he was the first one who broke his maiden,” Velazquez said. “It would be hard to get off of him anyway, although I was leaning toward Shug’s horse, thinking that he’ll probably be the best horse later on. I’m glad I didn’t have to make that decision. It was easier to go to Keeneland and let those two battle here, and later on, I hope I get one of them back.”

Brown doubles his pleasure

Trainer Chad Brown will run two horses in both of Sunday’s $200,000 graded stakes for 2-year-olds on the turf that are Win and You’re In races for Breeders’ Cup events next month at Santa Anita.

In the Grade 3 Pilgrim, which offers a fees-paid berth into the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf, Brown sends out Bobby’s Kitten and Shadow Banking, both coming off strong maiden victories.

Bobby’s Kitten, a son of Kitten’s Joy, set a strong early pace and kept on going to win a 1 1/16-mile race by 2 3/4 lengths at Saratoga. Shadow Banking, a son of Harlan’s Holiday – and a full brother to Stormy Len, who runs in Saturday’s Grade 1 Jamaica – came from off the pace to win his debut here.

Due Diligence won his debut for Chad Brown by 7 1/2 lengths but was sold privately to Michael Tabor, John Magnier, and Derrick Smith and turned over to Pletcher.

In the Miss Grillo, which offers a fees-paid berth to the Juvenile Fillies Turf, Brown sends out Granny Mc’s Kitten, winner of the P.G. Johnson Stakes as a maiden, and Testa Rossi, a French-bred filly who won three consecutive races in France before being shipped to Brown.

Trainer Kiaran McLaughlin also entered two in the Miss Grillo – Sky Painter and Dancing House.

Lighthouse Bay okay after scratch

Grade 1 winner Lighthouse Bay suffered some minor scrapes on her hocks and one on her stifle as a result of a mishap at the gate Wednesday but was otherwise reported to be in good health, according to trainer George Weaver.

Lighthouse Bay, winner of the Grade 1 Prioress at Saratoga, reared up in the gate just before the start of the $100,000 Catinca Stakes, in which she was the 4-5 favorite, and was scratched by the track veterinarian.

Weaver said he was using the Catinca as a prep for the Raven Run Stakes at Keeneland on Oct. 19.

“It doesn’t look too bad,” Weaver said. “But you know the second 24 hours can be worse than the first 24 hours. We’re going to make sure she’s okay these next couple of days, and if she’s okay, then we’re going to try and make that race.”