02/25/2013 3:24PM

Gulfstream Park: McGaughey excited about Orb's Kentucky Derby chances

Tom Keyser
Orb has won two straight races, including the Grade 2 Fountain of Youth.

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. – Trainer Shug McGaughey said he is trying not to worry about the Kentucky Derby just yet, even after watching his top 3-year-old, Orb, upset Violence in Saturday’s Grade 2 Fountain of Youth to all but assure himself a spot in the big dance on May 3. But the Hall of Fame horseman does admit that the Derby has crossed his mind at least once or twice this winter.

“I don’t get Derby fever,” McGaughey said Sunday. “But don’t think I’m not excited, because I am.”

McGaughey has every reason to get excited about Orb, who registered his second straight victory around two turns when rallying to a one-length decision over the previously undefeated Violence under jockey John Velazquez in the 1 1/16-mile Fountain of Youth. Orb, a homebred son of Malibu Moon owned by Stuart Janney III and the Phipps Stable, received a career-best 97 Beyer Speed Figure for his performance.

“He’s really surprised me that he’s come along this far, this quickly,” McGaughey said of Orb, who has captured three straight races after needing five starts to win his maiden. “I hope we can just keep it going.”

McGaughey believes Orb showed a little more maturity in his race Saturday, although he said there are still some elements of his game that can be improved with experience.

[ROAD TO THE KENTUCKY DERBY: Prep races, point standings, replays]

“He was very good in the gate, and he broke well,” McGaughey said. “I was watching the race on TV, so I didn’t really see him until he got to about the quarter pole, but then he just kept going. When he made the lead, he kind of eased up a bit, the same as he had in his previous start. But when the other horse came back a bit, it made him go on, although I wasn’t really worried at that point that he was going to lose the race. I think that’s a habit he’ll learn to overcome with racing.”

McGaughey said the $1 million Florida Derby on March 30 is the likely first option for Orb’s next start and his final Kentucky Derby prep.

“I’m probably leaning towards the Florida Derby, with the other option being the Wood,” McGaughey said. “Although I don’t want to make any rash decisions until Mr. Janney returns from New Zealand this week and we get a chance to talk about it.”

If Orb does run in the 1 1/8-mile Florida Derby, it would set up quite a showdown with Itsmyluckyday and Shanghai Bobby, the first- and second-place finishers in the Grade 3 Holy Bull earlier this winter, also expected to return in that spot.

Shanghai Bobby breezed an easy half-mile in 49.61 seconds at Palm Meadows on Monday.

JoyJackson21 More than 1 year ago
It's okay to get excited about this horse, Shug. Orb is a very talented horse, with a great deal of potential. And he's getting better and maturing at about the right time. Orb has joined ten to twelve other interesting, exciting horses (for me) who are of great interest on the Derby/Triple Crown trail. The season is still young enough where other wonderful horses will join that list and make their presence felt as well. I look forward to their inclusion, too. Orb will make a fabulous addition to the Starting 20 in the 2013 Kentucky Derby. Good luck and good fortune to Orb, you, and Orb's connections. You all have a lot of reasons to be enthusiastic and excited.
Infinity More than 1 year ago
Great price..figured after the big horse chased the rabbit...
Michael Cupp More than 1 year ago
Skeptical of horses who haven't hit a triple digit beyer yet
Infinity More than 1 year ago
He keeps getting a higher beyer with each race.....well bred.
Patrick Ormond More than 1 year ago
Wish him the absolute best but I saw him take a bad step off his right rear hoof when galloping back after win (4:01 mark on replay) then drag his hoof for 4 strides. Shug keep an eye on it !!
Thomas Pierson More than 1 year ago
thanks for pointing out, maybe nothing. may need to see a little advancement on the backstrech. jmo
Joel Winicki More than 1 year ago
If Johnny V gets off this horse, Garrett Gomez would be the perfect replacement! Fits this horse like a glove.....
Jd Staton More than 1 year ago
whys that?
Anne Castle More than 1 year ago
David G.Nothing wrong with Ruffian's colors either. It will be interesting if Orb can overcome this waiting on other horses. This was his second start with lasix and 3rd win. All in a row. He ran against Violence during his first start and was 3rd getting off slowly. Same for second start off slowly. He beat Revolutionary during his first win. He might be the real deal. Distance should not be an issue...I wonder if Johnny V. will stay or go to one of Pletcher's. That might tell us more or he might make a big mistake. Rosario rode him in his first 5 races.
SaratogaMr More than 1 year ago
Albert the horse is one of the best three year olds in the country . world !!!!
Albert More than 1 year ago
Before we learned that Violence hurt himself and wasn't just getting late, that he actually had an excuse, the only question was 'how did this slow horse beat a fast horse.' Orb is a slow horse....he's the guy who finishes 15 lengths back in the Derby because he 'has a bad trip.' Nothing, Nada, Not here.
mike More than 1 year ago
Sounds like someone lost money betting on Violence this past weekend......
SaratogaMr More than 1 year ago
Do you known anything about ORB's breeding ,Lady Liberty !!
Jd Staton More than 1 year ago
gulf stream has been bad news or bad luck the past few years for 3yo heading to the derby i would take orb somewhere else just hoping for better luck the horse prob already in the derby points wise
Kevin Smith More than 1 year ago
Shug.....find something easier than the Florida Derby. The horse probably doesnt need any more points. Don't risk injury or having a tired horse.