Kentucky Derby winner Orb and Preakness Stakes winner Oxbow may face off in three weeks in the third jewel of the Triple Crown, as both are contenders for the $1 million Belmont Stakes (G1).
Trainer D. Wayne Lukas won his sixth Preakness with Oxbow, the son of Awesome Again taking the field gate to wire to pull off the upset with hall of fame rider Gary Stevens picking his third career win in the race.
Lukas indicated that the colt would be pointed toward the Belmont Stakes, which will be run on Saturday, June 8, and horse racing will go without another Triple Crown winner, Affirmed the last runner to sweep the three races in 1978.
The hall of fame trainer had confidence in the colt all week, and gave Oxbow the best chance of the three contenders he sent out (Will Take Charge finished 7th while Titletown Five was 9th).
“I was trying to be politically correct all week, but I thought (Oxbow) was the toughest horse. I thought if there was some adversity or something went wrong, he had the best chance to overcome,” Lukas said. “Will Take Charge is so big that he has to get a clear run. He can’t check, stop, take a bump or anything. The other horse (Titletown Five) we knew was going to need a career quantum leap forward.”
Oxbow was vanned back to Churchill Downs on Sunday. Lukas has won the Belmont four times, the last coming in 2000 with Commendable.
Trainer Shug McGaughey shipped the Derby winner Orb back to his home base at Belmont Park and said he will make a final decision on running the colt in the Belmont Stakes in about a week.
“He’s just going to have to tell us what we want to see,” McGaughey said. “If he’s jumping out of his skin, we’re going to bring him over here [to run in the Belmont Stakes]. I might know in about a week. I just have to wait and see. Everything’s gone great all year until yesterday. But I don’t anticipate any problems. I don’t think he’s knocked out by any means.”
Trainer Todd Pletcher ran five runners in the Kentucky Derby but was not represented in the Preakness. The five-time Eclipse Award winning trainer likely will send out at least three runners in the Belmont Stakes.
It looks as if Revolutionary, Palace Malice, and Overanalyze are probable, and Pletcher has several others that are possible including Unlimited Budget and Micromanage.
Pletcher won the 2007 running with the filly Rags to Riches.
Freedom Child, winner of the Peter Pan (G2) on May 11 by 13 ¼ lengths over a sloppy sealed track at Belmont Park will run in the Belmont according to his trainer Tom Albertrani.
The Dallas Stewart trained Golden Soul, who ran second in the Kentucky Derby at odds of 34-1 is also a confirmed starter for the Belmont.
Trainer Bob Baffert will be represented by either Code West or Power Broker. Code West beat allowance foes in the Pimlico nightcap on Preakness Day. His best performance this year in stakes company was a runner up finish in the Risen Star (G2) at Fair Grounds on Feb. 23.
Power Broker would be making his third start of the year if he runs. The colt was fifth in the Santa Anita Derby (G1) on April 6 which was off a five month layoff. In his most recent start he beat allowance company on May 10 at Churchill Downs with Rosie Napravnik aboard.
The New York Racing Association stakes coordinator Andrew Byrnes has Itsmyluckyday as possible. The colt bounced back from his 15th place finish in the Kentucky Derby with a solid runner up finish in the Preakness at 8-1. The colt completed a $2 exacta with Oxbow that returned $301.40.
The 139th Running of the Preakness Stakes Won by Orb