Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) winner Orb returned to the Belmont Park main track May 23 for the first time since his fourth-place finish in the Preakness Stakes (gr. I), galloping a mile and leaving trainer Shug McGaughey happy.
"I was pleased," the Hall of Fame conditioner said of Orb's 6 a.m. outing under regular exercise rider Jennifer Patterson. "We're taking it as it comes and not looking too far ahead. But if everything goes well, we'd like to run in the Belmont."
The 145th running of the $1 million Belmont Stakes (gr. I) June 8 is expected to attract a large field, including Preakness winner Oxbow , currently at Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas' barn at Churchill Downs. Lukas, who has won four editions of the Belmont, also is expected to saddle Will Take Charge, seventh in the Preakness, in the 1 1/2-mile Belmont.
Other likely starters, according to New York Racing Association stakes coordinator Andrew Byrnes, are Peter Pan Stakes (gr. II) winner Freedom Child ; Giant Finish, 10th in the Kentucky Derby; Derby runner-up Golden Soul; and a sizable Todd Pletcher contingent including Revolutionary, Overanalyze , and Palace Malice, third, 11th, and 12th, respectively, in the Derby.
The Pletcher-trained filly Unlimited Budget, third in the Kentucky Oaks (gr. I), Micromanage, and Midnight Taboo are also under consideration, with recent allowance winners Code West and possibly Power Broker representing Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert.