08/10/2013 3:07PM

Saratoga: McGaughey raves about Orb’s work

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Tom Keyser
Orb has been training steadily in Fair Hill, Md.

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SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – While horsemen in Saratoga adjusted their training schedules Saturday morning over a wet main track or a drying-out training track, trainer Shug McGaughey had no such concerns while in Fair Hill, Md., to oversee Kentucky Derby winner Orb’s last major workout before the $1 million Travers Stakes on Aug. 24.

“It’s beautiful here,” McGaughey said by phone.

McGaughey liked the scenery on the track as well, as Orb worked five furlongs in 59.20 seconds over the dirt surface at Fair Hill. According to McGaughey, Orb broke off “on the hip” of stablemate Imagining, and went his first eighth in 13.20 seconds. Orb drew alongside Imagining at the quarter pole and they came through the lane together, according to McGaughey. Imagining was timed in 59.40 seconds for the same five furlongs.

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By McGaughey’s watch, Orb galloped out six furlongs in 1:11, seven-eighths in 1:26, and pulled up a mile in 1:41.

“I couldn’t be any happier with what I saw,” McGaughey said. “I had no idea he was going like that until I looked at my watch. He got a little blow out of it – what you’d want.”

The move was the sixth for Orb since he arrived at Fair Hill shortly after his third-place finish in the Belmont Stakes on June 8.

Orb was scheduled to van from Fair Hill to Saratoga on Sunday.

“Win, lose, or draw, I think this experiment has worked,” McGaughey said of Orb’s two-month stint at Fair Hill. “How he looks, how he seems to be, everything couldn’t be any better.”

Orb’s competition in the Travers is expected to include Belmont Stakes and Jim Dandy winner Palace Malice, Haskell winner Verrazano, Jim Dandy runner-up Will Take Charge, Dwyer winner Moreno, Kentucky Derby runner-up Golden Soul, and the Darley Stable entry of Transparent and Romansh. Blue Grass winner Java’s War is possible, though he was entered for Wednesday’s $100,000 Stroll Stakes on the turf.