Updated on 05/23/2013 8:51AM

Belmont Stakes: Oxbow, Orb among 14 under consideration

Email
Barbara D. Livingston
Oxbow (right) and Itsmyluckyday, the top two finishers in the Preakness Stakes, are under consideration for the June 8 Belmont Stakes.

The upset victory by Oxbow in the Preakness on Saturday at Pimlico extinguished the Triple Crown chances of Orb, the Kentucky Derby winner. Yet while the Belmont Stakes on June 8 at Belmont Park won’t have the drama of a Triple Crown bid, it could very well match up Oxbow and Orb, as well as prominent runners from the Derby who skipped the Preakness, and a filly.

The Belmont, at 1 1/2 miles, is the last and longest leg of the Triple Crown. As of Monday, 19 days before the Belmont, as many as 15 horses were under consideration for the race. Several are doubtful, most notably Preakness runner-up Itsmyluckyday, who most likely will make his next start at Monmouth Park.

But the Belmont field is expected to include Golden Soul and Revolutionary, who finished second and third in the Derby, then skipped the Preakness, and the filly Unlimited Budget, third last time out in the Kentucky Oaks.

D. Wayne Lukas, who trains Oxbow for the Calumet Farm of Brad Kelley, was all aglow at Churchill Downs on Monday morning when accepting congratulations throughout training hours. Lukas traveled with Oxbow by van Sunday, a 12 1/2-hour journey from Baltimore to Louisville, Ky.

Asked what he did on the long drive home, Lukas said, “Listen to my 100-plus voice mails and look at my 100-plus text messages.”

“There are a lot of very nice people out there,” he said.

The Preakness victory marked the 14th in a Triple Crown race for Lukas, breaking a record he had shared with the late, legendary “Sunny Jim” Fitzsimmons.

“I didn’t put a lot of thought into that,” Lukas said. “(Fitzsimmons) meant so much to Thoroughbred racing; that part’s a big honor. But it’s OK; I’ll put it on my résumé. It’s always a good feeling anytime you can do something nobody else has ever done.”

Lukas had last won the Preakness in 1999 and had last won a Triple Crown race in the 2000 Belmont with Commendable. Since 2000, he was winless with 31 starters in 22 Triple Crown races until Oxbow’s victory.

Lukas said Will Take Charge, seventh in the Preakness, also could run in the Belmont.

“He didn’t handle that track at all,” Lukas said. “The Belmont situation might be the best for a long-striding horse like him, with those big, sweeping turns.”

Lukas, 77, was not the oldest trainer to win the Preakness. Fitzsimmons, for instance, was 82 when he won the race with Bold Ruler in 1957. But Gary Stevens, 50, became the oldest rider to win the Preakness, supplanting Eldon Nelson, who was 45 when he won in 1972 on Bee Bee Bee.

Orb on Sunday was sent by van to Belmont Park, where trainer Shug McGaughey keeps his main string from spring until fall. McGaughey said Orb “looks to me like he came out of the race fine,” but said he wanted to get Orb settled at Belmont Park before committing to the Belmont. Orb was scheduled to go back to the track to train Wednesday.

“I want to see him bounce back, see his soundness level, his energy level,” McGaughey said Sunday. “As brilliant as we were two weeks ago, we weren’t brilliant yesterday.”

McGaughey took solace in having won the Derby two weeks earlier.

“Winning the Derby was my lifetime dream, and we won it,” he said. “I would have loved to have won (the Preakness) and taken it to another level.”

McGaughey said Orb never seemed comfortable inside horses, and that jockey Joel Rosario “never could get him outside.” But what puzzled McGaughey was how Orb steadily advanced down the backstretch, only to come up empty on the far turn.

“It looked like Orb took him to the right position, and then he didn’t have any horse,” McGaughey said. “I can’t second-guess anything that happened. It wasn’t our day. It was Oxbow’s day.”

McGaughey said that if Orb skips the Belmont, summer racing at Saratoga would likely be next.

If Oxbow and Orb face one another in the Belmont, it will mark the fourth time since 2001 that the winners of the Derby and Preakness have met in the Belmont. The last time that happened was just two years ago, with Animal Kingdom and Shackleford, both of whom were beaten by Ruler On Ice.

Six of trainer Todd Pletcher’s horses are under consideration for the Belmont, most notably Revolutionary. Palace Malice, 12th in the Derby, also is scheduled to run.

The other four Pletcher horses are all owned by Mike Repole, who on Monday said Overanalyze and the filly Unlimited Budget were certain to run, and that both Micromanage and Midnight Taboo were still in the mix.

Golden Soul will have his first breeze since the Derby “one morning this week, anywhere from Wednesday through Saturday, depending mostly on the weather,” trainer Dallas Stewart said.

Like the Lukas runners, Golden Soul is at Churchill Downs, as is Mylute, who was third in the Preakness. Mylute’s trainer, Tom Amoss, said he would wait a while before deciding whether to run in the Belmont.

Other Belmont contenders include Peter Pan Stakes winner Freedom Child and the Bob Baffert-trained Code West.

– additional reporting by David Grening and Marty McGee