Besilu Stables Florida Derby (gr. I) winner Orb completed his preparations for the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) with an eye-popping four-furlong move April 29 at Churchill Downs that was clocked in :47 4/5.
Taking to the track after the 8 a.m. renovation break under exercise rider Jan Patterson, Orb cut out fractions of :23 4/5, :35 4/5, :47 4/5, and was out five furlongs in 1:00 4/5. Orb left his work mate Overwhelming behind him, which was key for trainer Shug McGaughey.
"He has a tendency in his races to make the lead and then think he's done enough, so we wanted him to finish on by that horse," said the Hall of Fame trainer. "It made me very happy. He's handled this track really well from day one and this is just what I wanted to see. I've been a little nervous hoping the work would go well, and it did. He dropped his head and walked home the way you want him to and he didn't break a sweat."
The son of Malibu Moon races as a homebred for Stuart Janney III and the Phipps Stable, and seems to be coming into his own at the right time. After going winless in his first three starts, Orb is now riding a four-race win streak, including all three of his starts this year at Gulfstream Park. His past two victories came in the Besilu Stables Fountain of Youth Stakes (gr. II) and Florida Derby.
McGaughey said he's seen the progression of Orb really pick up recently.
"I really didn't know what we had when he first arrived in the barn last year. He trained well at Payson Park in December, but it was only after the Fountain of Youth that he really blossomed. Between the Fountain of Youth and the Florida Derby he progressed so much mentally and physically, and in his works, I was amazed. In the Florida Derby he got more aggressive than he's been before and really wanted to go after those horses. Johnny (jockey Velazquez) had to keep him from moving too soon. That's a side he'd never shown before."
On hand for the workout was Daisy Phipps Pulito, representing the Phipps Stable that is headed by her father, Ogden Mills Phipps.
"Orb went really well," she said after the work. "This is a nice position to be in with a horse like this."