The real questionable horse in the field is the Kentucky Derby winner. After disappointing finishes in the Preakness Stakes (G1) and Belmont Stakes (G1) in which he finished fourth and third, respectively, Orb was sent to the Fair Hill Training Center in Maryland. Although there was nothing physically wrong with the son of Malibu Moon, trainer Claude "Shug" McGaughey III wanted to give his colt a break from a grueling Triple Crown season, a vacation of sorts.
"I think he's mentally very sharp right now," said McGaughey on a national conference call earlier this week. "Physically, I think he went on the van a horse and he came off the van back up here 10 days ago or so as a man. And he got a lot stronger. He couldn't be any better than he is, and, you know, I think that all systems are go. I think our little experiment at Fair Hill really worked to his advantage."
As the other standouts in this year's crop of three-year-olds were picking up graded stakes victories at Monmouth Park, Del Mar, Aqueduct, and Saratoga, Orb was slowly getting back to training. His work tab, which includes three consecutive bullet works, shows a progressive pattern in his work routine. On paper, he looks ready to take back the title of leading three-year-old.
"The reason I didn't run him in a prep race is I thought we were going forward fast and I didn't want to take a chance on taking—running him and maybe knocking him out a little bit and taking a step backward," McGaughey said. "I think I'm where I want to be and I'm just hopeful that on Saturday that we've got the best horse."
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