David Goldman Associated Press Orb trainer Shug McGaughey, left, and co-owner Stuart Janney celebrate their win in the Kentucky Derby. "This is a time to reflect on our terrific trainer," Janney said.

More Information

  • 138th Preakness
    What: 1 3/16 miles on dirt, limited to 14 starters.
    When: 3:18 p.m. PDT Saturday.
    Where: Pimlico Race Course, Baltimore, Md.
    TV: 1:30 p.m. PDT Saturday, Channel 3.

Triple Crown hopeful Orb has trainer 'on cloud nine'

Published: Wednesday, May. 15, 2013 - 12:00 am
Last Modified: Wednesday, May. 15, 2013 - 7:55 am

Trainer Shug McGaughey had felt the pain of losing with what he thought was a sure thing. That disappointment kept him off the Triple Crown trail for decades.

Now, the Hall of Famer can revel in his first Kentucky Derby victory - and he can't wait for Saturday's Preakness.

Why? Orb may be good enough to win the Triple Crown, a sweep that hasn't happened in 35 years. The bay colt has one jewel with the next pearl waiting at Pimlico.

"I can't believe how proud I am," McGaughey told reporters after Orb arrived at Pimlico. "Right now, I'm on cloud nine."

Preakness post positions will be drawn today in Baltimore. Orb likely faces eight challengers in Saturday's $1 million stakes.

Hoping for a fast track after the mud bath in Louisville, some Derby also-rans will try again: Mylute (who finished fifth), Oxbow (sixth), Will Take Charge (eighth), Itsmyluckyday (15th) and Goldencents (17th). The newcomers include Illinois Derby winner Departing, Sunland Derby winner Govenor Charlie and Titletown Five.

The last colt McGaughey brought to the Preakness was his heartbreaker: Easy Goer in 1989. Just as he did in the Derby, Easy Goer lost to Sunday Silence.

Although Easy Goer redeemed himself with an eight-length Belmont victory, McGaughey decided to stay away from the classics unless he had the right horse - like Orb.

"I've been through this one other time," McGaughey said in a phone interview. "I have nothing but fond memories - except getting beat."

Post-Derby, life has changed for McGaughey, one of the sport's most respected trainers.

"One thing is it's a relief to have finally won it and fulfilled the lifelong dream," he said. "There's been quite a demand on our time - not only mine, but the people at the barn, but that's all been fun, too."

When he first arrived in McGaughey's care, Orb had been an unknown prospect from an unheralded sire, Malibu Moon. It took Orb four tries to win his first race.

"I have had one other offspring of Malibu Moon, and he's a riding horse on a ranch in Montana right now," said McGaughey, noting both colts were 3-year-olds this year. "Orb won the Kentucky Derby and the other one couldn't (win one race)."

On a five-race winning streak, Orb has taken his new celebrity in stride.

"So far, so good," said McGaughey. "He handled himself pretty well at Louisville under unbelievable attention."

Around the barn, Orb is a pretty cool character, laid-back in his stall. But like his trainer, he's been feeling good with an extra bounce in his step.

"I'm pretty confident," McGaughey said. "Each day, I get a little bit more confident. ... I just can't see any reason in the world why he wouldn't go over there and run his race.

"As we know, anything can happen," he added. "These things can reverse direction on you in a minute. But I sure don't expect that to happen. So, I'm really, really, really looking forward to taking him over there and running him in the Preakness."

Call The Bee's Debbie Arrington, (916) 321-1075. Follow her in Twitter @debarrington.

© Copyright The Sacramento Bee. All rights reserved.

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