Orb, Oxbow Among Favorites in Belmont Stakes As Trainer Todd Pletcher Enters Five Horses


Belmont ParkThe Triple Crown drought in thoroughbred racing will extend to a 36th straight season starting next spring as no horse will be making a run for history at Saturday’s final leg of the Triple Crown, the 145th Belmont Stakes.

That’s not to say there aren’t big stakes for the owners of Orb and Oxbow on Saturday in New York. Certainly significant stud future fees would arise should either horse win this race. Orb was the 5-1 favorite at the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs on the first Saturday of May and won by 2 1/2 lengths over long shot Golden Soul. It was the first Derby win for Hall of Fame trainer Shug McGaughey and jockey Joel Rosario.

Orb was a significantly bigger 3-5 favorite two weeks later at the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico in Baltimore. However, 15-1 shot Oxbow led wire-to-wire as Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas won his record 14th-career Triple Crown race. It was the ninth Triple Crown win for jockey Gary Stevens, who only came out of retirement in January. It was just the third win in 11 career starts for Oxbow, who was sixth at the Kentucky Derby. Orb got stuck on the rail at the start of the Preakness, starting from Post 1, and never recovered, finishing fourth. That ended Orb’s five-race winning streak.

Horse racing is a fickle sport, so this could be the final time that Orb and Oxbow face off. For example, last year I’ll Have Another entered the Belmont with a Triple Crown shot but was scratched from the race the day before with an injury and retired to stud.

Orb is the opening 5-2 favorite to become the 12th horse to win the Kentucky Derby and Belmont. The last was Thunder Gulch in 1995, who was third in the Preakness. Orb’s bloodlines could bode well for this race. His paternal grandsire is 1992 Belmont winner A.P. Indy. Also a potential good sign: the only other three-letter Derby winner, Zev, did win the Belmont.

This will be the 21st time overall that the winners of the first two legs of the Triple Crown have squared off at the Belmont, which, at 1 1/2 miles, is the longest of the three races. Nine times the Preakness winner won the Belmont. The Derby winner did so five times. The other six were won by different horses. The last horse to pull the Preakness/Belmont double was Afleet Alex in 2005 after finishing third by about a length in the Kentucky Derby.

There is one filly in Saturday’s race: Unlimited Budget. She’s one of five horses entered by trainer Todd Pletcher. Unlimited Budget is ridden by Rosie Napravnik. No woman rider has ever won a Triple Crown race aboard a filly. Unlimited Budget is 15-1.

Pletcher did make history at the Belmont six years ago when Rags to Riches became the first filly in 102 years to win the race. It remains the trainer’s lone Belmont win. However, Pletcher’s best shot this year likely will come from Revolutionary at 5-1. He won the Louisiana Derby earlier this year and finished third at the Kentucky Derby. Revolutionary has never finished outside the money in seven career starts. As many as 15 horses could start Saturday.

This post is presented by Bovada.

Photo via Twitter/@wagihe2012

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