09/30/2013 3:19PM

Belmont Park: Orb probably finished for the year

Barbara D. Livingston
Plans for next year are up in the air for Orb, who finished last in the Jockey Club Gold Cup.

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ELMONT, N.Y. – Kentucky Derby winner Orb, who finished last in Saturday’s $1 million Jockey Club Gold Cup at Belmont Park, will most likely not run again this year and no decision has been made on whether he will return as a 4-year-old, co-owner Stuart Janney III said Monday.

“I would suspect he’s done racing this year,” Janney said by phone Monday morning. “We’ll figure out what we want to do next year.”

On Sunday, trainer Shug McGaughey said he could not find an obvious excuse for Orb, who returned to the Fair Hill training center in Maryland Saturday night after the race. An endoscopic examination did not reveal any blood or mucus in his lungs and the horse did not appear to have any other physical infirmities.

“Something happened,” McGaughey said. “I don’t know what it was. I’ll figure it out.”

Javier Castellano, who rode Orb for the first time, said Saturday that Orb was empty with five furlongs left to run in the 10-furlong Gold Cup. McGaughey said he was “dumbfounded” by the result, which came after a solid third-place finish in the Travers on Aug. 24.

“I thought he ran a good race in the Travers and he trained too well and looked too well to run like that,” McGaughey said.

Orb’s 3-year-old campaign has become a mixed bag. He won his first four starts, including the Grade 2 Fountain of Youth, Grade 1 Florida Derby, and Kentucky Derby. Since then, however, he has finished fourth in the Preakness, third in the Belmont Stakes and third in the Travers, prior to his last-place finish in the Jockey Club Gold Cup.

While Janney is disappointed, he is not totally surprised. Janney said he looked up the history of how the previous 10 Kentucky Derby winners fared after winning the Derby and the statistics weren’t promising.

The previous 10 Kentucky Derby winners have combined to go 8 for 29 the remainder of their 3-year-old seasons, with four of those wins coming in the Preakness. Discounting the Preakness, the previous 10 Derby winners are 4 for 19 the remainder of their 3-year-old seasons.

“Statistically, for whatever reason, it is very hard for horses that have won the Derby to have a strong second half of the year,” Janney said.

Janney said a review of those statistics was in part what went into the decision to “do things a little different” approaching the second half of the year. One was to keep Orb training at Fair Hill. The other was skipping a prep race before the Travers.

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“I thought he ran a good race in the Travers, was just a touch short because he hadn’t had a prep race, but I also feel he wasn’t as comfortable being on the inside as he would have been on the outside,” Janney said. “But we looked forward as to what was going to go on last Saturday, then he threw us a curveball.”