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  • Gene Sweeney Jr. / MCT

    Jennifer Patterson, assistant trainer and exercise rider, leads Kentucky Derby winner Orb around Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore, Maryland, Monday, May 13, 2013. (Gene Sweeney Jr./ Baltimore Sun/ MCT)

  • Garry Jones / AP

    Kentucky Derby winner Orb grabs a snack from a flower basket outside the stakes barn at Pimlico Race Course Wednesday, May 15, 2013, in Baltimore, as photographers capture every bite. The Preakness Stakes horse race is Saturday. (AP Photo/ Garry Jones)

  • Garry Jones / AP

    Orb's trainer Claude R. "Shug" McGaughey, right, talks with his wife Alison before the start of the Preakness Stakes post position draw at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore, Wednesday, May 15, 2013. Despite getting the inside post in Wednesday's draw, Orb was made an even-money favorite to win the Preakness and keep alive his bid to become horse racing's first Triple Crown winner since Affirmed in 1978. (AP Photo/ Garry Jones)

  • Lloyd Fox / MCT

    Kentucky Derby winner Orb worked out at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore, Maryland, Thursday, May 16, 2013. The 138th running of the Preakness Stakes is Saturday. (Lloyd Fox/ Baltimore Sun/ MCT)

  • Patrick Semansky / AP

    Steam rises from Kentucky Derby winner Orb as a groom washes him after a workout at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore, Friday, May 17, 2013. The Preakness Stakes horse race is scheduled to take place May 18. (AP Photo/ Patrick Semansky)

  • Patrick Semansky / AP

    Kentucky Derby winner Orb, with exercise rider Jennifer Patterson aboard, gallops during a workout at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore, Thursday, May 16, 2013. The Preakness Stakes horse race is scheduled to take place May 18. (AP Photo/ Patrick Semansky)

  • Patrick Semansky / AP

    Kentucky Derby winner Orb reacts as grooms adjust his bridle after a workout at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore, Thursday, May 16, 2013. The Preakness Stakes horse race is scheduled to take place May 18. (AP Photo/ Patrick Semansky)

  • Garry Jones / AP

    Exercise rider Jennifer Patterson gallops Preakness Stakes favorite and Kentucky Derby winner Orb at Pimlico Race Course Friday, May 17, 2013 in Baltimore. The Preakness Stakes horse race is scheduled for Saturday. (AP Photo/ Garry Jones)

More Information

All eyes on Orb in Preakness Stakes

Published: Saturday, May. 18, 2013 - 12:00 am
Last Modified: Sunday, May. 19, 2013 - 10:27 am

Can anybody beat Orb?

That's the $1 million question heading into Saturday's 138th Preakness Stakes.

After splashing mud in the face of his Kentucky Derby foes, Orb brought a groundswell of support to Baltimore for his next step on the Triple Crown trail.

For the Derby also-rans hoping for a dry track at Pimlico, the forecast is not good. According to Accuweather, there's a 50-50 chance of rain Saturday in Baltimore.

In the Preakness, Orb faces eight challengers, including five Derby holdovers: Mylute, Oxbow, Goldencents, Itsmyluckyday and Will Take Charge. The three newcomers are Illinois Derby winner Departing, Sunland Derby winner Govenor Charlie and Titletown Five.

Even Orb's opponents like his chances.

"Obviously, if we can't win, we certainly would love to see Orb go down the road as the potential Triple Crown winner," said Al Stall Jr., Departing's trainer.

Jockey Gary Stevens - aboard Derby sixth-place finisher Oxbow - saw plenty of Orb and will try to beat him again in the Preakness. His opinion? We may be looking at a Triple Crown winner - at long last.

"Orb was a fresh horse after the race, and I don't know what I'm going to do to turn the tables," Stevens said in a teleconference. "I'm hoping that Oxbow likes Pimlico.

"I've got to hope that Orb doesn't show up the same horse that (he) did for the Derby and that he may have some traffic problems," he added, "because I'm going to be flat honest with you - we're all up against it."

Orb has real potential to break the Triple Crown's 35-year drought.

"What I see in Orb, he has no faults about him," said Stevens, who has won the Preakness twice. "Just watching this horse progress, I think he has an excellent chance of pulling it off."

Since Affirmed's 1978 Triple Crown sweep, a dozen horses have won the first two gems - including 2012 Derby-Preakness champion I'll Have Another. On the eve of the Belmont Stakes, a tendon injury ended his career.

Doug O'Neill, I'll Have Another's trainer, returned to Pimlico with another Santa Anita Derby winner, Goldencents. In the Derby, jockey Kevin Krigger practically pulled up Goldencents, who couldn't find his footing on the muddy track and finished 17th.

Krigger, a Northern California regular until last year, will attempt to be the first black jockey to win the Preakness since Willie Simms in 1898.

"I think the biggest thing we've learned is let Kevin ride his race," O'Neill said. "He and this horse have such chemistry."

Rosie Napravnik, who began her career in Maryland, attempts to become the first woman to ride a Preakness winner. She's back aboard Mylute, fifth in the Derby.

"It would mean a lot to me (to win) because it's where I started," Napravnik said. "I'm very proud to go ride in the race and, if we could win, it would be even sweeter."

Meanwhile, Joel Rosario - who won his first Kentucky Derby aboard Orb - continues his phenomenal hot streak. On Friday, he won Pimlico's Black-Eyed Susan Stakes on Fiftyshadesofhay.

Rosario gives Orb one more plus in the Preakness.

Said Stevens, "We're seeing a colt that really has untapped resources right now. He's still improving - and that's kind of a scary thought."

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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