Several Churchill Downs trainers are picking Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (Grade I) winner Orb to win Saturday’s Preakness (GI) and are expecting the Malibu Moon colt to head to Belmont with a shot to become racing’s 12th Triple Crown winner.
Perhaps no trainer will be cheering for Orb harder than David Carroll, who worked for trainer Shug McGaughey from 1985-90 and was the main exercise rider for Easy Goer, who finished second in the 1989 Kentucky Derby to Sunday Silence.
“I think you’ll see big races from Itsmyluckyday and Goldencents, but I don’t think anyone is going to beat Orb,” Carroll said.
Carroll added that he would love to see Orb head to New York with a shot to win the Triple Crown.
“I was at Belmont when Smarty Jones was going for the Triple Crown and it was the most electrifying atmosphere I’ve ever seen. If Orb were to win the Preakness, I would love to be up there for it. The atmosphere would be unbelievable.
“(Orb) has a Hall of Fame trainer, he has the pedigree and the owners, and well it doesn’t get any better than that. It would just be right. Maybe it’s too good to be true, but if it did happen, it would be tremendous.”
Other horsemen at Churchill Downs picking Orb on top in the second jewel of the Triple Crown include Paul McGee, Jack Bohannon, Bret Calhoun, Norman Casse, Scooter Dickey, Brad Cox, Buff Bradley, Dale Romans and Phil Bauer.
“You’ve got to like Orb,” McGee said. “That’s who I think is going to win it.”
“I’ve got to stick with the Derby winner,” said Bohannon, who is the longtime assistant trainer to Rusty Arnold. “I’ll be pulling for a Triple Crown winner.”
“Orb is tons the best,” Calhoun said. “I think we’ve got a shot at a Triple Crown. He was the best horse all winter and proved it on Derby Day.”
“I like Orb and he is going to win the Triple Crown,” said Casse, assistant to his father, Mark.
“I like Orb,” Dickey said while sporting an Orb hat Thursday morning. “I watched him all winter and he’s the best I’ve seen.”
“I think Orb is the horse,” Cox said. “A lot of people like Al Stall’s horse (Departing) and I think he’ll run well too.”
“I like Orb and one reason is because Shug is so high on him,” Bradley said.
“I think Orb is going to win the Preakness and I think he’ll win the Triple Crown,” Romans said. “I’ve never said that about another horse.”
“I don’t think anyone can beat Orb,” said Bauer, assistant to trainer Ken McPeek.
The Preakness is scheduled as Race 12 on Pimlico’s 13-race card Saturday and has a post time of 6:20 p.m. (all times Eastern). Orb, the even-money favorite on the morning line, will break from the rail in the field of nine.
THIS WEEK AT CHURCHILL DOWNS
Thursday, May 16
- 9 races from 12:45-4:59 p.m. EDT (Gates: 11:30 a.m.)
- Feature (Race 3 at 1:49 p.m.): $57,000 alw, f & m, 6 F
- 2-Day $8,121 Pick 6 Carryover (Races 4-9, 2:21 p.m.)
- 2-Day $26,675 Super Hi-5 Carryover (Race 9, 4:59 p.m.)
Friday, May 17
- 11 races from 2:45-7:54 p.m. (Gates 1:30 p.m.)
- Feature (Race 4 at 4:18 p.m.): $57,000 alw, 3 & up, 6 F
- City’s Best Happy Hour! & Food Truck Fridays. Drink specials ($2 Budweiser/Bud Light; $3 Stella Artois; $4 14 Hands Blackberry Sangria), food trucks (Booty’s Diner, Eat Beat, Genius in a Box & Louisville Dessert Truck) & live music (Wax Factory) in The Plaza from 4-7 p.m.
- Advance Preakness Stakes Wagering
- Pimlico All-Stakes $250,000 Pick 4 (Pim 9-12, 4:16 p.m.)
- $1 Pimlico Special/Preakness Double (Pim 12 at 5:52 p.m.)
Saturday, May 18
- 11 races from 12:45-6 p.m. (Gates: 11:30 a.m.)
- Preakness Stakes Simulcast (Pim 12 at 6:20 p.m.)
- Pimlico Early $350,000 Pick 4 (Pim 5-8, 1:09 p.m.)
- Pimlico Late $1.5 million Pick 4 (Pim 9-12, 4 p.m.)
- Feature (Race 10 at 5:30 p.m.): $65,000-added Keertana, f & m, 1 3/8 M (T)
- Preakness NBC Viewing Party in The Plaza starts at 4:30 p.m. (NBC video & audio will be shown on video board in The Plaza)
- Last call for drinks on Saturday will be “Call to the Post” for the Preakness.
Sunday, May 19
- 10 races from 12:45-5:29 p.m. (Gates: 11:30 a.m.)
- Feature (Race 4 at 2:19 p.m.): $54,000 alw/opt clm, f & m, 1 1/8 M (T)
- Family Fun Days Presented by Kroger on The Plaza Balcony from 11:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Games, crafts, entertainment & Churchill Charlie appearance. This week there’ll be a Petting Zoo in The Plaza (rabbits, chickens, ducks, sheep, goats, alpacas, a miniature horse and a miniature donkey) courtesy of Honey Hill Farms.
PROCTOR SEEKS TO WIN SATURDAY’S KEERTANA WITH MIDNIGHT MUSIC
Midnight Music-IRE, a 5-year-old Irish-bred daughter of Dabawi-IRE, will make her first U.S. start Saturday and could give trainer Tom Proctor a victory in the overnight stakes named for one of his former stars, Keertana.
“This is the first time I’ve run her, but she acts like she wants to run all day,” Proctor said.
The Keertana, an overnight stakes event for fillies and mares at 1 3/8 miles, is scheduled as Race 9 on Saturday’s 11-race program at Churchill Downs with a post time of 4:59 p.m.
Fittingly, the Keertana will be run on the Matt Winn Turf Course, where the dark bay or brown daughter of Johar won the 2011 Louisville Handicap (GIII), 2009 Regret (GIII) and finished third beaten a half-length in the 2010 Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf (GI). Overall, Keertana won 11 of 29 starts and earned $1,031,938.
“We got our picture taken a lot together,” Proctor said.
Proctor added that Keertana was one of the sweetest horses he’s trained. “She was one you could let the kids play with,” Proctor said. “It’s neat to have a really nice horse that’s also easy to get along with.”
Keertana, who was sold for $1 million at the 2013 Keeneland January Sale, resides at Denali Stud in Paris, Ky. and is in foal to Tapit.
DAVIS SCORES FIRST WIN BENEATH THE TWIN SPIRES
Apprentice rider Dylan Davis thought he had his first Churchill Downs winner when he crossed the line first aboard Chelsea Brook in the second race on May 10; however, his mount was disqualified from first and placed second by Kentucky Horse Racing Commission Stewards following an inquiry into the stretch run.
Davis, son of jockey Robbie Davis and younger brother of jockey Jackie Davis, didn’t have to wait much longer for his first visit to the Churchill Downs winner’s circle as he scored a victory on Officer Griffin in Race 11 on May 11.
“It was a great feeling,” Davis said. “A lot of people were talking about the disqualification, but it was just great to win one the next day.”
Davis followed-up his victory in last Saturday’s finale with a win aboard Tomei on Mother’s Day.
“I won it for my mom,” Davis said. “She said it was the best gift you can ask for.”
Davis, who has ridden in 144 races since beginning his career last summer at Saratoga, said he has been getting help from other members of the Churchill Downs jockey colony.
“The journeymen here are helping me and they’ll point out when I’m doing something wrong,” Davis said. “I encourage them to do that because I’m trying to become a better rider.”
Davis said he is unsure where he will take his tack when the Spring Meet concludes on June 30.
CITY’S BEST HAPPY HOUR! & FOOD TRUCK FRIDAYS AT CHURCHILL DOWNS
Churchill Downs will host the City’s Best Happy Hour! and Food Truck Fridays every Friday in The Plaza from 4-7 p.m. throughout the 38-day Spring Meet.
Drink specials include $2 Budweiser/Bud Light, $3 Stella Artois and $4 14 Hands Blackberry Sangria. Food trucks scheduled for Friday are Booty’s Diner, Eat Beat, Genius in a Box and Louisville Dessert Truck.
Live music will be provided by Wax Factory.
Stephanie’s Kitten, winner of the Churchill Distaff Turf Mile Presented by Longines (GII) in her most recent start, breezed a half-mile on the firm Matt Winn Turf Course in :52 for trainer Wayne Catalano.
DOWN THE STRETCH
Jockey Shaun Bridgmohan won aboard 10 of his 26 mounts (38% win clip) last week at Churchill Downs and currently leads all jockeys with 17 wins at the Spring Meet. Bridgmohan’s 10-win week was highlighted by a five-win day on Saturday …
Trainer Bill Mott said there are no plans at this time for Juddmonte Farms Inc.’s homebred Uno Duo, who broke her maiden by 5 ¼ lengths at Churchill Downs on Sunday. Uno Duo, a gray or roan filly by Macho Uno, is a half-sister to Etoile Montante, a Group I winner in France and a Grade II winner in the United States …
Assistant trainer Norman Casse said Robert Masterson’s Exclusive Love will be pointed to the $100,000-added Early Times Mint Julep Handicap (GIII) at Churchill Downs on June 8 following her ¾-length victory on the Matt Winn Turf Course on May 12.