Updated on 05/10/2013 8:36AM

Preakness Stakes: Orb braves rain in return to track at Belmont Park


ELMONT, N.Y. – After a few days to celebrate with family and friends at home in Delaware, Jennifer Patterson was back at work Wednesday morning, taking her seat atop Kentucky Derby winner Orb as he began preparations for the May 18 Preakness Stakes with an easy jog at rainy Belmont Park.

With Belmont’s main track sealed and with two sets of orange traffic cones, commonly referred to as “dogs,” keeping horses well beyond the center of the track, Orb jogged a mile alongside a stable pony over a muddy surface that later turned sloppy.

“I was going to gallop him, but when the track came up the way it was, I got a day [to play with], so I might as well jog him and try not to beat him up over that track,” trainer Shug McGaughey said. “I thought he jogged really well. I was pleased with what I saw. Seemed to be good and settled in; wasn’t all frazzled. It seems to me that all systems are go.”

Orb went out shortly after 6 a.m., when the track was basically empty, save for other horses sent out in that set by McGaughey. With a steady rain falling, Orb appeared to be happy to be out of his stall and back on the track.

“He was full of life out there, jumping around,” Patterson said. “Every time a horse would come galloping by us, he’d try to buck and play. He’s happy. Moving good, too.”

[2013 PREAKNESS STAKES: Latest news, video, and more]

Patterson, who has been Orb’s regular exercise rider since January, drove from Kentucky to Delaware on Sunday and spent some time with family and friends before returning to New York on Tuesday.

“I couldn’t wait to see him and see how he really came out of it,” Patterson said. “Shug had been telling me he’s been finishing his dinner and lunch, and he seemed good. I knew I was coming back to something good. I maybe could have used one [more] day, but it’s good to be back. I just wish it was sunny.”

Dry track conditions are not likely in New York until Friday, at the earliest. McGaughey said that regardless, Orb was scheduled to gallop Thursday and would continue to gallop through the weekend. He is scheduled to have a timed workout Monday at Belmont and ship to Baltimore either later that day or Tuesday.

About two hours after Orb came off the main track – and with the rain having briefly subsided – Normandy Invasion stepped onto the Belmont training track, where he jogged once around without company. Assistant trainer Cherie DeVaux couldn’t have timed it any better, as the rain started to fall again the moment Normandy Invasion arrived back at the barn.

Trainer Chad Brown said he wants to evaluate how Normandy Invasion trains for the next several days before deciding whether to commit to the Preakness.

At Aqueduct, Vyjack just walked the shed row as trainer Rudy Rodriguez elected not to send the Gotham Stakes winner out to train over a wet surface.