Updated on 06/04/2013 8:48AM

Belmont Stakes: Orb ready to roll after solid half-mile workout


ELMONT, N.Y. – If there was any doubt about Orb’s starting status for Saturday’s Belmont Stakes – and there really wasn’t – it was removed early Sunday morning when the Kentucky Derby winner worked a solid half-mile in 48.30 seconds over a lightning-quick main track at Belmont Park.

Working in company with the Grade 1 winner Hymn Book, Orb started about a half-length behind and tracked from the outside through a first eighth in 13.01 seconds. He was on equal terms with Hymn Book after a quarter in 24.95 seconds as exercise rider Jennifer Patterson maintained a firm hold of Orb.

In the stretch, Patterson barely moved her hands, yet Orb got his last quarter in a strong 23.35 seconds. Orb moved away from his workmate while galloping out five furlongs in 1:00.48, six furlongs in 1:13.77, and seven furlongs in 1:28.85.

“I thought he worked excellent,” trainer Shug McGaughey said. “I asked between 48 and 49; he went off in hand, finished up really well, galloped out well. He was playing a little bit coming off the track, so I think all systems are go.”

McGaughey has indicated a desire to run in the Belmont since shortly after Orb finished a disappointing fourth in the Preakness. He just wanted to make sure Orb was displaying the energy he had during this demanding Triple Crown campaign, which has seen him win an allowance race, the Fountain of Youth, and the Florida Derby before the Derby and Preakness.

“He’s shown good energy all week,” McGaughey said. “I walked him around a couple of turns before Jenn got on him, and he was pulling me around there. If he hadn’t worked to my satisfaction, I would have pulled the plug, but he worked to my satisfaction. I think that the appropriate thing to do is to run him.”

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McGaughey had worked Orb in company most of the year but elected not to prior to the Preakness because the horse was running back in two weeks, and he wasn’t looking for a stout work. On Sunday, he went back to using a workmate.

“I wanted to put his head in the game a little bit,” McGaughey said. “His workmate is a nice horse who is not as good a work horse as Orb. I knew he’d pull him along a little ways, but we’d probably get away a little bit at the end. That’s sort of what happened. He finished up the way I wanted to. He seemed to come back with a decent amount of energy.”

McGaughey did express concern over what is shaping up as a 14- or 15-horse field for the Belmont.

“It concerns me because I think a lot of them that are going to be in there probably don’t belong,” McGaughey said. “The field size in the Derby didn’t concern me because I thought it would sort itself out a little bit. Here, I think they’re going to be spread out everywhere.”

Derbyorbust More than 1 year ago
I think when all is said and done, this crop of three year olds will be looked at as a bunch of clams. Orb most likely is the best of the crop, but Seattle Slew, Affirmed or for that matter Unbridled, he is not.
Str8UpSportTalk More than 1 year ago
You're all sick, when he wo9n the derby it seemed there was going to be another triple crown winner, then he lost the Preakness because he was drained by the BIG derby performance being parked wide the whole trip. now with the extra week off he seems to be himself. When Orb is himself he is head tail and hoof better than this 3 yr old crop.
You Feel Lucky More than 1 year ago
Wasn't on Orb in the derby, wasn't on Orb in the preakness, and wont be on Orb in the Belmont. And all you fools stop comparing him to all the great horse's who have run in the last 40 years.........cause he aint one of them.
Forego137 More than 1 year ago
After reading everyone's concerns about Orb an Shug I do believe everyone is really afraid of Orb and are trying to beat him by convincing themselve's about past runnings of the Belmont where a one race wonder won the Belmont and paid a hefty price. There's alot of dreaming going on out there and I think I let Orb do the talking on the race track and most likely all the band wagon jumper's who have jumped ship after the Preakness will be back on the wagon after June 8th and touting Orb like the second coming of Affirmed like they were doing after he won the Ky. Dby. Dare not play Orb in the Belmont and try to beat him with your one race wonder horse your hoping will pop up and win at a price and most likely you will be finding yourself tearing up your tickets and talking to yourself about the one that got away at a juicy price by the name of ORB.........
jay More than 1 year ago
Thank you, Sharjil. Change the name of the trainer saying there are too many horses in the race from Shug to almost anybody else, and I doubt that people would be so understanding. So many people have apparently been drinking the Shug Kool-Aid, that they think he can do no wrong. I like Kool-Aid too, but I prefer mine to be Shug-ar free.
Thomas Cook More than 1 year ago
This race is ALL ABOUT the 3 year old ECLIPSE for Orb's connections. For breeding credentials for their colt. He wins The Belmont he wins Eclipse.
Sharjil Ahmad More than 1 year ago
And about DO NOT BELONG..... another not-so-classy comment by a classy trainer. Shug forgot something, a horse that so much didnt belong, was just a couple lengths behind his horse in Kentucky Derby. These Do Not Belongs may be the ones to give these favourites a run fo their money. IF pedigree is what is going to define the outcome, then I'm sorry Shug, you are not in the best spot.
Sharjil Ahmad More than 1 year ago
I totally agree with Jay on Shug crying about the field size. Churchills tight first turn with 20 horses fighing for position doesn't bother Shug, but Belmont's long sweeping turns with 14 horses do. And please dont say I'm a Orb hater too same as u guys said to Jay. The guy has a very valid point. The race is long enough for Joel to position Orb. Moreover, after the last turn, Belmont stratch is so friggin long, that a closer like Orb should have a lottttt of ground to catch up anyone in frint. I really think Orb is the best horse in the field. The track suits him a lot. But yes, I also have a problem with all of those calling him a GREAT horse already. He has the potential, but he's nowhere near just yet. Best horse should win. Plain and simple. If Orb gets caught in traffic, too bad, but its horse racing. Come on people.
Kristian O'Reilly More than 1 year ago
FYI, the Belmont stretch is the shortest of the TC races. Belmont is renowned for it TURNS....They're 2.5f respectively. That's why horses appear to be making a winning move around the turn only to die in the stretch. The premature move into the length of said turns gives the illusion that the stretch is all dat. As for Shug's assertion that there'll be horses in there that don't belong, he's merely voicing his conservative opinion. I actually disagree with Shug. His focus shouldn't be on field size, but rather the pace of the race. The more horses, the likelihood of an honest pace. Not that joke fest we got in B-more.
Elijah Allison More than 1 year ago
Just box the horses which ran in the Derby and skipped the Preakness and thank me later, if orb goes above 7/2 throw him in there too
Gunner More than 1 year ago
"Bomb Sniffing Dog" might lend a few clues, as Saturday will be "Bombs Away Day".