Orb , winner of the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I), turned in a sharp half-mile work in a bullet :47.68 Aug. 19 in preparation for the Aug. 24 Travers Stakes (gr. I), the fastest of 28 works at the distance.
The son of Malibu Moon —Lady Liberty, by Unbridled, worked over the Oklahoma training track at Saratoga Race Course under regular exercise rider Jennifer Patterson. Trainer Shug McGaughey caught the colt in :12 2/5 for his opening eighth and got him galloping out five furlongs in 1:01.
"After his opening eighth he went in :23's from there," McGaughey said. "We're very pleased with the way he's coming up to the Travers. To go that way over the training track surprised me, and he did it effortlessly by himself. I couldn't have asked him to go any better. He did great when he was at Fair Hill and he's doing great here. It's Monday and we've done all we can do except wait until Saturday."
Despite the caliber of competition his charge will face in the Travers, McGaughey is optimistic of a good performance.
"Obviously, we're in the race to win, but if we get a really solid effort then that would be fine, too," said McGaughey. "I think he'll be awful tough."
Following his third-place finish in the Belmont Stakes (gr. I), Orb, owned and bred by Stuart S. Janney III and Phipps Stable, was sent to Bruce Jackson's Fair Hill Equine Therapy Center, where he thrived, putting on almost 100 pounds.
In addition to the Kentucky Derby, Orb has also captured the Besilu Stables Florida Derby (gr. I) and Besilu Stables Fountain of Youth Stakes (gr. II) and was fourth in the Preakness Stakes (gr. I).
Also working for the Travers was Willis Horton's Will Take Charge , who went five furlongs in 1:01.88 over the training track. The son of Unbridled's Song recently finished a fast-closing second to Palace Malice in the Jim Dandy Stakes (gr. II) and is one of only three horses to have competed in all three Triple Crown races.
"He's had a good month since the Jim Dandy," Lukas said. "I'm hoping the extra little distance is going to help. There's a lot of speed in the race, and maybe we can use that to our advantage. He's maturing nicely.
"He was a little immature through the whole Triple Crown. I like what I see now, so maybe we're just finding out about him. I look for a big effort from him."
In addition to Orb and Will Take Charge, the Travers is expected to include Belmont Stakes (gr. I) winner Palace Malice ; Haskell Invitational (gr. I) victor Verrazano ; Kentucky Derby runner-up Golden Soul; Dwyer Stakes (gr. II) winner Moreno; Romansh, who was promoted to victory in the Curlin Stakes; Transparent, disqualified from first and placed fifth in the Curlin; and War Dancer, who is switching from turf to dirt after taking the Virginia Derby (gr. IIT).
In other notable works Aug. 19, Besilu Stables' Royal Delta worked a half in :48.30 on the training track in preparation for the Aug. 25 Personal Ensign Invitational Stakes (gr. I) and two-time Jockey Club Gold Cup (gr. I) winner Flat Out went five-eighths in 1:01.75 over the training track for the Aug. 31 Woodward Stakes (gr. I).
Royal Delta had lost back-to-back starts for only the second time in her 19-race career before bouncing back with a 10 3/4-length romp in the Delaware Handicap (gr. I) on July 20.
"I'll tell you what I like about her here," her Hall of Fame trainer, Bill Mott, said. "We schooled her in the paddock yesterday, and she seemed pretty cool about it. She's an Empire Maker, and she can get a little keyed up when you start changing her routine around a little bit. But, she handled it real well."
Working over the main track was Alfred G. Vanderbilt Handicap (gr. I) winner Justin Phillip , who went five-eighths in 1:00.48 for the Aug. 31 Forego Handicap (gr. I).