Orb Looks Golden With Powerful Florida Derby
Trainer Shug McGaughey said he was waiting for Orb to take him to Louisville. The Hall of Fame conditioner should be on his way after the colt's impressive win in the $1 million Besilu Stables Florida Derby (gr. I) March 30 (VIDEO).
"The Derby is my dream, but we never tried to overdo it," McGaughey said. "Hopefully, this is the one who can take us there."
Orb won by 2 3/4 lengths while completing the 1 1/8-mile distance in 1:50.87.
"I'm pretty excited about the first Florida Derby I've ever won," McGaughey said. "I'm just glad to see the horse take another step, and we'll go from there.
Orb, a Kentucky-bred son of Malibu Moon out of the winning Unbridled mare Lady Liberty, races for his breeders, Stuart Janney III and Ogden Mills "Dinny" Phipps.
"From the Fountain of Youth (until) now, he's a different horse, physically and coat-wise," McGaughey said of Orb. "Hopefully, he'll keep going forward. It's really exciting. I've never won the Fountain of Youth and now to win the Florida Derby it's exciting. I'm happy for all the people who have put so much work into it. I'm just tickled to death for the Janneys and the Phippses (more) than I am for myself. It's a big thrill for me."
Orb raced mid-pack for Velazquez as Merit Man showed the way over Narvaez, Itsmyluckyday, and Shanghai Bobby at the rail. Fractions for the first six furlongs were comfortable at :24.74, :48.57, and 1:12.89.
"Johnny did a good job getting him in position," McGaughey said. "I got a little nervous on the turn when it looked like he backed up a little bit, but he switched on his right lead and came with his run. I do think he beat a nice horse that finished second."
Velazquez said Orb didn't get off to a good start but he found a spot on the first turn where he could follow Itsmyluckyday. He said he wanted to avoid passing the leader too soon in the stretch, so he sat against Itsmyluckyday.
"I expected him to win and he didn't," said Eddie Plesa Jr., trainer of Itsmyluckyday. "Am I disappointed? Yes, but I'm also very proud of him too. He's done everything we've asked.
Shanghai Bobby, contending with the rail post, was in tight early while stalking the pace at the inside for Rosie Napravnik into the far turn. He weakened in the stretch to be fifth.
Trainer Todd Pletcher said, "We got crowded going into the first turn with everyone going for the same spot. It got a little rough going into the first turn. He was always kind of stuck on the inside with everyone jockeying for the same position. He seemed to be in a tough spot all the way around. Rosie said he just never really relaxed in that scenario. We'll see how he comes out of it before making any decisions for the future."
Shanghai Bobby was followed by Pick of the Litter, Frac Daddy, Are You Kidding Me, Indy's Illusion, and Pontiff.
The bay colt is on a four-race winning streak since breaking his maiden in his fourth start last November at Aqueduct Racetrack. The $600,000 winner's share of the Florida Derby extended Orb's career earnings to $921,050.
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