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    He isn't in line to be a Triple Crown champion, but Orb could continue to be a force among the top 3-year-olds this season.

    The Kentucky Derby winner finished a disappointing fourth as the heavy favorite in Saturday’s Preakness Stakes at Pimlico, won by Oxbow. Orb, whose five-race win streak came to an end, was in a tough position starting from the inside post and didn’t display his usual energy in the stretch.

    “When I got to the half-mile pole, he had a hard time keeping up,” jockey Joel Rosario said. “I used my stick to try to get him going. He usually takes you there. He always runs hard, but today he never took off. He just steadied. Today was not his day.”

    Trainer Shug McGaughey didn’t spend much time on “what ifs” or the letdown of the loss. Instead, he’s looking ahead and mapping out the right plan for the son of Malibu Moon.

    McGaughey said Orb could compete in the 1 ½-mile Belmont Stakes on June 8. A final decision will be made after monitoring how the colt rebounds from Saturday’s defeat.

    Orb’s home base is Belmont, where he returned Sunday and was settled in his stall by mid-morning. McGaughey said Orb initially appears to have come out of the race fine.

    Whether or not he competes at Belmont, Orb could bounce back with a solid summer campaign at Saratoga that could include the Jim Dandy and the Travers Stakes.

    This year’s Belmont won’t hold the drama of last year, when Derby and Preakness winner I’ll Have Another was poised to try to claim the Triple Crown. He was scratched the day before the race with a tendon injury.

    The long distance test could be quite a show if those being considered line up. Trainer D. Wayne Lukas said Oxbow has the green light to come back in three weeks. Trainer Todd Pletcher is pondering as many as five contenders including filly Unlimited Budget and Derby alumni Revolutionary, Overanalyze and Palace Malice.

    Trainer Dallas Stewart said Sunday Derby runner-up Golden Soul remains on target for Belmont and is likely to have his first work since the Derby this week.

    Newcomer Freedom Child, also by Malibu Moon, will be one to watch after he romped in the Peter Pan Stakes at Belmont on May 11.

    J.J. Hysell's picture

    About J.J. Hysell

    Horse racing/sports writer involved in sports/news media for 15 years. We miss you Hunter S. Thompson.

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