Las Vegas, NV - The stars seemed to be aligning for Shug McGaughey ahead of the Preakness Stakes Saturday. There was already whispers of his impressive colt Orb becoming part of a very elite group of Triple Crown winners - the first since 1978 to record the increasingly impressive-looking feat. After an impressive 4 1/2 length score in the Kentucky Derby two weeks ago, Orb's next challenge was the nine horse field in the Second Jewel of the Triple Crown, the Preakness - a race that looked on paper like his race to lose.
The workouts ahead of the Preakness were terrific for Orb and there was absolutely no denying his form ahead of the 1 3/8 mile test. But it wasn't meant to be on Saturday. Unfortunately race fans will have to wait another year for a potential Triple Crown winner.
It was D. Wayne Lukas trained Oxbow with a 50 year old jockey aboard that took the lead very early and never looked back in the Preakness, winning by 1 3/4 lengths at 15-1 odds. Legends Lukas and Gary Stevens combined for a most improbable win on the biggest of stages giving Calumet Farm its record eighth Preakness success and first since Forward Pass's victory in 1968. Itsmyluckyday ran second, with Mylute third.
Oxbow flew under the radar ahead of the Preakness despite finishing an OK sixth in the Kentucky Derby. From Post 6 Oxbow took the lead almost from the outset and opened up a healthy lead over Goldencents and Tiitletown Five at the quarter mile mark. It looked like a walk in the park after that with Oxbow cruising home in 1:57:54 on a fast track.
Orb finished fourth, nine lengths behind the winner after getting caught in traffic ending his five race win streak. Goldencents was fifth and was followed, in order, by Departing, Will Take Charge, Govenor Charlie, and Titletown Five.
Attendance ontrack on Saturday at Pimlico was 117,203, the fourth-highest Preakness crowd in history, said track officials. Handle on the 13-race card from all sources was $81,940,233, the sixth-highest Preakness Day handle, officials said. Of the total handle amount, $50,251,542 was bet on the Preakness Stakes.
So now we look toward the Belmont Stakes June 8 and how Saturday's action could impact the list of starters in that race. Orb and Oxbow have both been pointed toward New York which would make for a most interesting showdown indeed. Both trainers will take a little time to evaluate but from all early indications, the winners of the first two jewels should go head-to-head June 8. If Oxbow and Orb meet in the Belmont, it will mark the fourth time since 2001 that the winners of the Derby and Preakness have squared off in the Belmont. The last time that happened was just two years ago, with Animal Kingdom and Shackleford, both of whom were beaten by Ruler On Ice.
Second place finisher in the Preakness Itsmyluckyday looks to be headed for the Haskell at Monmouth Park while Mylute, who finished third on Saturday is still a strong possibility for the Belmont Stakes. Other names being bantered about for the Third Jewel in the Triple Crown are Revolutionary, Normandy Invasion, Overanalyze, Dreaming of Julia, Golden Soul and Palace Malice.
Stay tuned to OffTrackBetting.com for all of the information you need heading into the Belmont Stakes as well as previews of all other graded stakes action around North America.