“Sometimes I pinch myself and say, ‘Why does this happen to me?’ ” said McGaughey, noting how many talented horsemen never had the same opportunities that he has had. “When I got to really rolling, I remember many a day after we’d won a big race in New York, I’d be leaving and I’d think, ‘How lucky am I? Why is this happening to me?’ ”
McGaughey, who had started only one horse (Saarland, 10th in 2002) for the Derby since he saddled heavily favored Easy Goer for a disheartening second-place finish behind Sunday Silence in 1989, was still pinching himself Sunday morning in the aftermath of Orb’s Derby success.
“I said last week that I wished it had happened to me earlier so I didn’t have to worry about it anymore, but I’m not sure I believe that now,” McGaughey said. “Yesterday was quite a day and today’s been quite a day so far. It’s been quite, quite a thrill.”
Saddling a horse bred and owned by longtime clients Stuart Janney III and the Phipps Stable was particularly thrilling.
“Sometimes I pinch myself and say, ‘Why does this happen to me?’ ” said McGaughey, noting how many talented horsemen never had the same opportunities that he has had.
“The Janneys and the Phippses have been around this for years. I think that they understand that we’ve got to be patient with these horses and try to make them last,” McGaughey said. “They don’t get in the way and that makes it easy for me to be patient and do what I’ve got to do to get the best of out of them that I possibly can.”
Orb, who won his fifth straight race over the sloppy track at Churchill, raced as far back as 17th on the backstretch before making a sweeping move on the turn into the homestretch and surging through the stretch to win under jockey Joel Rosario.
“He got away good. I might have been a little surprised that he was back where he was. Then, they threw the 22-and-change up there and I knew why he was where he was. He (Rosario) got him over where he didn’t lose a lot of ground around the first turn and then he had him in a great position going down the backside to where anything foreseeable won’t get in my way,” McGaughey said. “The only other thing I said (to Rosario) was: ‘When the time comes try to be in position to give him someplace to go,’ and he did that. When he started making that move, you always wonder, ‘Is he too far back.’ When he got to the quarter pole I knew he was going to finish and he was going to be running at the end. At that time I was feeling pretty confident that we were in a good spot and had a good chance.”
Rosario picked up the mount aboard Orb when John Velazquez, who had ridden the son of Malibu Moon for victories in the Fountain of Youth and Florida Derby, opted to ride Verrazano in the Derby.
Joel was the one I wanted and then he gets off to that amazing start at Keeneland and comes over here on opening night he wins five races. We were in pretty good shape. After winning five, I knew he wasn’t intimidated by Churchill Downs,” McGaughey said. “The more I’m around him the more I’m amazed at what kind of kid he is. He’s just happy with what he does. He’s got so much energy and he has so much ambition that we were tickled to death to have him. He’s got so much confidence with what he’s doing. Like I told him in the paddock, ‘Just ride him with confidence.’ ”
Orb boarded a van bound for New York Sunday morning. In preparation for a start in the Preakness Stakes on May 18, McGaughey said Orb may breeze at Belmont Park before shipping to Pimlico Race Course early Preakness week.
While McGaughey has always been a one-race-at-a-time trainer, he admitted that he’s thought about the Triple Crown.
“Obviously, it has,” he said. “I’m looking forward to getting the process going again and seeing what happens and go from there.”
GOLDEN SOUL (Second) – Trainer Dallas Stewart thought all along that Charles Fipke’s Golden Soul belonged in the Kentucky Derby but was worried his colt would not make the field because he was low on the leaderboard for point accrued on the Derby trail.
“If we get in, we’ll be ready,” Stewart said a week before the race.
On Saturday, Golden Soul showed he was ready by rallying for second under a ground-saving ride from Robby Albarado.
“He ran great, but nobody was going to beat the winner,” said Stewart, who 25 years ago served as the exercise rider for Winning Colors.
By virtue of running second in the Kentucky Derby, Stewart would have no worries about getting into the Preakness with Golden Soul if he so desired.
“At this point, I think we will pass on the Preakness and look at the Belmont,” Stewart said. “That would give us five weeks and hopefully we can get one of the three (races in the Triple Crown series).”
REVOLUTIONARY (Third) / CHARMING KITTEN (Ninth) / OVERANALYZE (11th) / PALACE MALICE (12th) / VERRAZANO (14th) – Things were much more on the mellow side Sunday morning at trainer Todd Pletcher’s Barn 34 on the Churchill Downs backstretch following Saturday’s running of the Kentucky Derby (GI). The conditioner, a major player in America’s most famous race for the past 14 years, had once more been in the thick of the fray for Derby 139 with five of the 19 runners in the 10-furlong classic with the buzz around his stable all week proving sizable.
But Sunday the barn went on quite hum, just the everyday business of running the most successful stable in the country. Horses were groomed, walked and fed, while tack was being packed for an anticipated ship to the outfit’s New York headquarters.
The Derby outcome was less-than-hoped-for for Pletcher and those involved with his quintet, but the conditioner is a pro’s pro and he knows – better than most – that the Kentucky Derby is about as tough as it gets when you’re trying to win a horse race. It was lick-your-wounds and move on time.
“They all came out of it sound,” he said, “and we’ll ship them to Belmont (Park) on Monday.”
Revolutionary, Charming Kitten, Overanalyze, Palace Malice and Verrazano had tried their best on the sloppy and sealed Churchill strip. And they’d all run again.
“Off a quick conversation I had with Elliott (Elliott Walden of WinStar Farm), Revolutionary will go straight to the Belmont (Stakes on June 8). He ran really well yesterday and it was a shame he had all the trouble he did with position during the race. The way he galloped out, I wished he’d have had a clear path so he could have shown what he could do.”
Overanalyze also was Belmont bound. “(Owner) Mike Repole also indicated we’d go next in the Belmont with his horse. He got shuffled around on the turn in the Derby, but came on late. It wasn’t a horrible effort; actually it wasn’t bad at all.”
“I was very pleased with Charming Kitten’s race. He ran great. For a horse running his first time on dirt, in a field like that on a track like that, he did very well. But he’ll go back to grass now. That’s where he belongs.”
The conditioner wasn’t so sure about future plans for his other two starters, Palace Malice and Verrazano.
“Mike (jockey Mike Smith) said if he rode him again, he wouldn’t send him away from the gate like he did. Once the horse got going, he didn’t want to come back. We’ll take him up to New York now and look around and figure out where we want to go with him next.
“Verrazano just never seemed to travel well at all. I think the track really affected him. Somewhere along the way yesterday somebody stepped on his rear left hock and left an abrasion on it. It isn’t that serious and I don’t think it was the reason for why he ran the way he did, but it was just indicative of what kind of race it was. We’ll step back with him, too, and make a plan at some point.”
The trainer was appreciative of Orb and his good run in winning the Derby by 2 1/2 lengths.
“The ones that win it usually put themselves in a great position to do so. Orb certainly did that yesterday.”
Pletcher’s five runners yesterday bring his Derby record to 36 starters, one win, two seconds and two thirds.
NORMANDY INVASION (Fourth) – Fox Hill Farms’ Wood Memorial (GI) runner-up Normandy Invasion came out the Derby well and is scheduled to get on a van late Sunday afternoon to ride back to trainer Chad Brown’s barn at Belmont Park.
Brown said that he and owner Rick Porter agree that the son of Pulpit will not run in the Preakness. The goal for the summer is the $1 million Travers at Saratoga Race Course.
As he packed a box in the tack room at Barn 42, Brown said he was pleased with Normandy Invasion’s performance and supported the ride turned in by jockey Javier Castellano. Normandy Invasion surged to the lead at the top of the stretch, but faltered in the final furlong.
“I got a beautiful trip,” Brown said. “There are some questions after the race. Did my jockey move a little soon into a quick pace there on the turn?
“I don’t know. When you’re riding on a sloppy track and you’re following a live horse like Verrazano from the half-mile pole home; when Verrazano picked it up, Javier made the decision to go with him. Watching it unfold live I thought it was a good move.”
Normandy Invasion showed a strong final kick to finish second in the Wood on April 6, but Brown said the rain that fell Saturday forced a different approach.
“As the track deteriorated all day, you would figure that there wouldn’t be a lot of passing going on in the lane. Once you turn for home, some horses might pass, but normally they are: A-tired, and B-struggling with getting his with kickback. In those types of races, going that far, they normally are decided in the middle of the stretch. I can’t really fault my jockey. He gave me great, ground-saving trip in the first turn.
“I thought down the backside he made an excellent decision to stay off the rail and get out to the three-four path. At that point, he identified Verrazano and figured ‘I’ve got a live horse to follow’ through the few holes that are ahead of him.
“When the cadence quickened, he went with him. I looked like a winner at the top of the lane. I’d say about the eighth pole to the sixteenth pole he got rubber-legged on me. I thought he was courageous in defeat. He fought to the end; he just missed third. And he galloped out a little bit; it’s not like he stopped. He fought on.”
Brown said he will talk with Porter and develop a schedule for Normandy Invasion.
“I don’t know what our next move would be,” Brown said. “I know what I want to do; this is my Travers horse. I don’t know what I’ll do between now and then. We’ll talk about it. He will run. I don’t know where or when or how many times.”
MYLUTE (Fifth) – GoldMark Farm and Whisper Hill Farm’s Mylute came out of his close fifth-place finish “like he didn’t do anything,” according to GoldMark Farm general manager Todd Quast. The May 18 Preakness is a very strong possibility if he continues to show no signs of significant fatigue.
“We need a couple more days to think about it,” Quast said after he and trainer Tom Amoss checked on the Louisiana Derby runner-up in his stall. “You wouldn’t not want to go from what you see today, that’s for sure.
“When he came out of the Louisiana Derby he was so high that we worked him back eight days later. If he comes back with that kind of energy we have to seriously look at it.”
Mylute, with Rosie Napravnik aboard, flashed a huge move around the far turn – improving from second-last to seventh in an eighth of a mile – and fanned wide into the stretch with the leaders in his sights. The Midnight Lute colt could only run evenly through the lane, though, and came out on the bottom of a three-horse photo for show.
“We were a little further back, probably, than was desired and had to go wider than you’d like but, given the trips you can have in the Derby, he ran huge,” Quast said. “He just needed a little bit more. He got beat less than four lengths for all of it. We’re proud of him.
“We went into it knowing that we’d need a perfect trip to move up to this and we were 3 ¾ lengths away from a perfect trip.”
Mylute’s explosive move gave his connections serious hope passing the quarter pole that he just might win it all.
“I’d like to bottle that feeling,” Amoss said, smiling. “If you could you’d be a billionaire.”
OXBOW (Sixth)/WILL TAKE CHARGE (Eighth) – Trainer D. Wayne Lukas plans to wheel Oxbow and Will Take Charge back in the Preakness after their respectable runs in Saturday’s Kentucky Derby.
“I’m not disappointed at all,” Lukas said. “I thought at the quarter pole, Oxbow was going to get it, but then I saw the pack coming. (Jockey) Gary (Stevens) was very happy with Oxbow.”
Will Take Charge, ridden by Jon Court, was following Orb on the far turn, but at the top of the stretch had to check behind a retreating Verrazano.
“He got a little nick and that is maybe where it happened,” Lukas said. “The seven-week break (from the Rebel) was a good idea and I’d do it again. He was a fresh horse and I think he will definitely be better in the next one.”
Lukas was highly complementary of the winner.
“It did not matter if it was wet or dry, the best horse won,” Lukas said. “It was a wonderful victory for Stuart Janney and Dinny Phipps. There was a lot of karma there that rewards people that have been great to the sport like Bob Lewis, Bill Young and Frances Genter. I saw Dinny before the race and told him that I thought it was going to be his turn and I was a little worried.”
Lukas plans to van Oxbow and Will Take Charge to Maryland on Tuesday, May 14 for another shot at Orb on his path to the Triple Crown.
“We are all going to have to get better to beat him,” Lukas said. “I think the Preakness will be the biggest hurdle for him for the Triple Crown. If he gets by that, he gets to go back home to Belmont and run right out of his stall.”
Lukas plans to take three other horses going to Maryland next week for Preakness Weekend.
“We have four or five horses that fit their stakes schedule,” Lukas said. “I thought Optimizer ran huge yesterday against Wise Dan (in the Woodford Reserve) and we’ve got Laurie’s Rocket (third in the Grade II Churchill Downs) and Broken Spell (third in the Edgewood).”
LINES OF BATTLE (Seventh) – The Aidan O’Brien-trained Lines of Battle headed back to Ireland Sunday morning after making his inaugural run on dirt in the Kentucky Derby.
“He came out of the race fine,” said T.J. Comerford, assistant to O’Brien. “They went so fast so early, it was a shock to his system. (Jockey) Ryan (Moore) said he was bothered by the kickback but once he settled in he ran well.”
Comerford said Lines of Battle’s travels would take him to Chicago for a brief layover and then home to Ireland where he would land around noon Kentucky time.
Although the Preakness in two weeks would be a quick turnaround for Lines of Battle, Comerford said it may be a possibility.
“We will see what Aidan wants to do, but he may consider it since he ran so well,” Comerford said. “He was a little bit like a 2-year-old with his first start. There was no time after Dubai (the UAE Derby on March 30) to run on dirt and you hate to use the Kentucky Derby as a prep. He’s bred for the dirt and the Belmont may be more of a consideration.”
GIANT FINISH (10th) – Sunrise Stable and Partners’ Giant Finish will spend a couple of days at Churchill Downs before shipping back to trainer Anthony Dutrow’s barn at the Fair Hill Training Center in Elkton, Md.
“He cooled out very good after the race and walked good,” assistant trainer Ray Handal said Sunday. “He didn’t have any cuts or scrapes. He was tired, but he lays it all out there. That’s the way he is.”
Handal said the New York-bred colt will be left in the care of trainer Dallas Stewart before his van ride to Maryland.
“Tony said we’ll let him relax and get his legs underneath him before we ship,” Handal said. “I’m sure that Tony will meet with the owners and figure out a game plan for him.”
JAVA’S WAR (13th)/FRAC DADDY (16th) – Charles Fipke’s Java’s War and Magic City Thoroughbred Partners’ Frac Daddy both came back from their Derby experience in good order and were “bright” this morning while walking the shedrow, according to assistant trainer Phil Bauer. Neither colt is under consideration for the Preakness but the Belmont Stakes remains a possibility.
Java’s War dallied in last the first six furlongs and caught up with the pack approaching the quarter pole but could not sustain his run.
“Java had the trip I thought he would,” Bauer said. “He made a little run. He was right behind the winner and he tried to follow him but the winner is just a superior animal.”
“He proved in his 2-year-old year and with the synthetics that he might like turf or Poly a little better.”
Frac Daddy secured a good position early and was in the mix for the first half of the race but never put in a bid at any point.
“I’m a little frustrated with him,” Bauer said. “It seems like he chose not to participate. He was sixth turning down the backside and by the time they hit to the half-mile pole he was about 15th. He dug his toes in; he didn’t run. He had more energy in the barn than he did in the race.
“We told Victor (Lebron) to let him run free. He got behind some horses and Victor tried to keep him wide but he just didn’t want any part of it. He’s just a little temperamental. The horse has got a ton of talent and if he ever puts everything together he’s going to be a nice horse.”
Java’s War and Frac Daddy will walk the shedrow for at least two mornings.
ITSMYLUCKY DAY (15th) – Trainer Eddie Plesa Jr. reported Sunday morning that Trilogy Stable and Laurie Plesa’s Itsmyluckyday came out of a disappointing performance in the Kentucky Derby “100 percent.”
The Gulfstream Park Derby and Holy Bull Stakes (GIII) winner, who finished second behind Orb in the Florida Derby, checked in 15th behind the Kentucky Derby winner Saturday.
“We have to blame it on the (sloppy) race track. It’s not just making an excuse. He trained too well to run so bad,” Plesa said. “You could see where he was struggling with the racetrack all the way around. It wasn’t a case of soundness; it was a question of handling the racetrack.”
Itsmyluckyday is scheduled to ship to Monmouth Park Monday morning.
Plesa said it was “60-40” that Itsmyluckyday will run in the Preakness Stakes on May 18.
GOLDENCENTS (17th) – Team O’Neill was gathered once more Sunday morning at Barn 45 following their colt Goldencents’ run in Saturday’s 139th Kentucky Derby (GI).
Though the outcome they’d hoped for hadn’t happened – the horse finished an eased-up 17th in the 19-horse field on a sloppy Churchill Downs strip – spirits were still high and coffee and bagels helped ease the chill on a rainy Kentucky morning.
Their irrepressible leader, trainer Doug O’Neill, is a guy who likes to look ahead, not back, and such was the case with Goldencents.
“We’re a go for the Preakness,” he said. “Jack (assistant Jack Sisterson) will go with him and we’re trying to make shipping arrangements now. He might go Tuesday. Leandro (chief assistant Leandro Mora) and I are headed back to California. I’ve got a flight today.”
The $1-million Preakness Stakes (GI), the second jewel of the Triple Crown, will be contested at a mile and three sixteenths (a sixteenth of a mile shorter than the Kentucky Derby) on Saturday, May 18 at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore. Team O’Neill knows all about that race. After winning last year’s Kentucky Derby with the upstart I’ll Have Another, they took Maryland by storm and won its big race, too.
VYJACK (18th) – Pick Six Racing’s Vyjack came out of the Derby in good shape and will ship back to trainer Rudy Rodriguez’s barn at Aqueduct on Monday.
FALLING SKY (19th) – Newtown Anner Stud, James Covello and Joseph Bulger’s Falling Sky came out of his 19th-place finish in Saturday’s Kentucky Derby “100 percent,” said Reynaldo Abreu, assistant to trainer John Terranova.
Abreu said the sloppy track was not to Falling Sky’s liking Saturday.
“He was training way too good to run that bad,” Abreu said. “He was never in the race.”
KENTUCKY DERBY ODDS & ENDS
Orb is the 22nd Kentucky Derby winner to emerge from the Florida Derby and win the Run for the Roses. Orb is only the fourth horse to sweep the Fountain of Youth, Florida Derby and Kentucky Derby. The others are Tim Tam (1958), Spectacular Bid (1979) and Thunder Gulch (1995) …
Orb is the sixth Kentucky Derby winner since 1929 with at least five weeks between his last start and the Derby (and fifth in the last eight years): Orb (35 days in 2013); Animal Kingdom (42 days in 2011); Mine That Bird (34 days in 2009); Big Brown (35 days in 2008); Barbaro (35 days in 2006) and Needles (42 days in 1956) …
Orb was the fourth horse to win the Kentucky Derby from post position No. 15. The others: Swale (1984), Grindstone (1996) and Fusaichi Pegasus (2000). He was the 11th winner to break from the auxiliary starting gate …
Orb was the 53rd post time favorite to win the Kentucky Derby and first since Big Brown in 2008 …
The Kentucky Derby was contested over a “sloppy” track for the seventh time. The other years: 1925 (Flying Ebony), 1948 (Citation), 1994 (Go for Gin), 2004 (Smarty Jones), 2009 (Mine That Bird) and 2010 (Super Saver) …
Orb is the 106th Kentucky Derby winner bred in the Commonwealth of Kentucky …
Orb is the 52nd bay horse to win the Kentucky Derby (most) …
Orb is the fourth Kentucky Derby winner whose name begins with the letter “O” and the first since Omaha in 1935. The others are Old Rosebud in 1914 and Omar Khayyam-GB in 1917 …
KENTUCKY DERBY RECORDS OF THE WINNING CONNECTIONS
Rosario, Joel (4-1-0-0)
2010 Make Music for Me 4th
2011 Brilliant Speed 7th
2012 Creative Cause 5th
2013 Orb* 1st
McGaughey, Claude R. III “Shug” (7-1-1-1)
1984 Pine Circle 6th
1988 Seeking the Gold 7th
1989 Easy Goer* 2nd
Awe Inspiring* 3rd
2002 Saarland 10th
2013 Orb* 1st
Janney, Stuart III (1-1-0-0)
2013 Orb* 1st
Phipps, Ogden Mills “Dinny” (2-1-0-1)
1989 Awe Inspiring (e)* 3rd
2013 Orb* 1st
- END -