LOUISVILLE, Ky. By noon Sunday, Barn 43 at Churchill Downs had been practically wiped clean. There were no horses in the stalls, no signs of what had happened there throughout the week, culminating in Orb's thrilling come-from-behind Kentucky Derby victory, save for a few scribbled notes on a message board that included a veterinarian's phone number and the horses' feed schedules.
Yet the empty barn was a testament to Hall of Fame trainer Shug McGaughey's old-school approach: horses first, celebration later.
Orb was already on his way to Belmont Park in New York, McGaughey's home base, to allow the colt to become comfortable before going to Baltimore to continue his quest for the Triple Crown in the Preakness Stakes on May 18.
"I'm not a vacation guy," McGaughey said Saturday after winning his first Derby. "I like to be at the barn, and that's where I'm comfortable, and that's where I want to be."
McGaughey arrived about 4 a.m. Sunday to check on Orb.
"We are tickled to death with the way he ran (Saturday), and he seemed to come out of the race well," said McGaughey, who added he thought Orb had a lot more left in his tank.
Orb seemed to want to be a part of the excitement, too: He did not want to return to his stall after walking the shedrow. It was as if he had not just run the race of his life, overcoming an awkward start, making a gutsy six-wide move under the urging of Joel Rosario and reeling in the leader in midstretch for an impressive victory in the slop.
"The only thing I said is when the time comes, get him in position so he has someplace to go," McGaughey said of his instructions to his jockey.
Rosario, who is in the midst of a dominating run, proved the perfect student.
"The more I'm around him, the more amazed I am about the kind of kid he is," McGaughey said. "He's got so much energy and so much ambition."
Orb will have a light workout next Monday at Belmont and ship to Pimlico the next day. McGaughey said he wanted Orb to have time to become familiar with the surface there.
"I'm looking forward to getting the process going again, and we'll see what happens and go from there," he said.
The Derby runners who are being pointed toward the Preakness are Mylute (fifth in the Derby), Oxbow (sixth), Will Take Charge (eighth), Itsmyluckyday (15th) and Goldencents (17th). The newcomers are expected to be Departing, Govenor Charlie, Fear the Kitten and Bellarmine.
"It's what horse racing is all about," said trainer Doug O'Neill, who won the Derby and Preakness last year with I'll Have Another and today will ship Goldencents to Pimlico. "They don't hand you anything. As good as (Orb) is, if Goldencents rebounds and gets back to his Santa Anita Derby effort, I think we have a chance to be right there."