He’s already shown us that he doesn’t need a fast pace to win, but then again it won’t hurt things if he gets one. The late closing Orb got a perfect set up in the Kentucky Derby, and will most likely get another one in the Preakness. Looking at his five victories in a row Orb has had a decent pace to run into twice while the other three were actually fairly slow. Here is a breakdown of the likely horses in the race and what they like to do:
Speed: Oxbow, Titletown Five, Goldencents, Govenor Charlie
Stalkers: Departing, Itsmyluckyday
Closers: Will Take Charge, Orb, Mylute
I wouldn’t call any of the speed horses a true “need the lead” type horse, but we know a few things about each horse that suggests there will be a battle up front. We know Oxbow can sit off the pace, but we also know that he has to be near the lead to have any shot at all. His stable mate, Titletown Five, has shown no interest whatsoever to relax on the front end. The jockey change will try to help change that, but you still look for him to be close. Goldencetns is a horse they’ve tried to get to relax all year, and in the Santa Anita Derby he did a fairly decent job of it and ran a great race. However, in that race he had only one target to rate behind. This one obviously is setting up to be different. Govenor Charlie has been on or near the lead in all three starts, and with the stretch out you can bet he’ll be there again. Adding this all into the equation, I would expect an opening quarter of 23 or less, and I’d expect the half to be right at 46 which will definitely set it up for a closer.
The two you would consider stalkers are Itsmyluckyday and Departing, although Departing has shown he can sit back and make one run as well. The other stalker, Itsmyluckyday, could actually heat things up even more if chooses to do so. He was on the muscle in a recent work out at Monmouth Park, and has shown the ability to press things in a couple races this year. I’m not suggesting he’ll want the lead, but he’s more likely to be running with the first group than the back half of the field. His addition to the race just adds to the possibility of horses pressing each other on the front end.
So who will get the perfect set up in the Preakness? In my mind that’s an easy answer: Orb, Mylute, Will Take Charge, and Departing. Those four make up a pretty solid group, but it’s not hard to separate them. Mylute has run two dynamic races in a row, but probably lacks the talent to actually win a race like this. Will Take Charge was getting ready to run a super race in the Kentucky Derby before getting stopped, but he’s had trouble putting together back to back solid races. So this leaves us with the always improving Departing and of course Orb. From how we’ve analyzed this one it looks to be a two-horse race…a two horse race that Orb should win.