Stats & Info: Orb

For the eighth time in the last nine years, the Belmont Stakes will be run without a Triple Crown at stake. Last year I’ll Have Another won both the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes, but was scratched the day prior to the race.

But even without a Triple Crown at stake, there are still plenty of reasons to watch the Belmont, on this the 40th anniversary of Secretariat’s 31-length win.

2 out of 3 ain’t bad
Orb is attempting to do what Thunder Gulch last did in 1995 -– win the Belmont Stakes and Kentucky Derby with a defeat in the Preakness Stakes sandwiched in between.

Eleven horses have won the Derby, lost the Preakness and then rebounded to win the Belmont Stakes.

However only six Derby winners have finished off the board in the Preakness (outside of top-3) and then won the Belmont, with the last being Swale in 1984. Oxbow (6th in the Kentucky Derby) can become the 19th horse to lose the Derby, and then win the Preakness and Belmont.

Since 1950 it has happened nine times, and four times it was by a beaten Derby favorite (which Oxbow was not).

Advantage, Oxbow?
In the last 25 years, the Derby and Preakness winner have gone head-to-head in the Belmont Stakes seven times. And all six times the Preakness winner finished the Belmont, he finished in front of the Derby winner, winning the Belmont five of those instances. In 1993, Preakness winner Prairie Bayou did not finish the race. Derby winner Sea Hero finished seventh.

Rosie rides the filly
Rosie Napravnik will ride Todd Pletcher’s filly Unlimited Budget 20 years after Julie Krone became the first female jockey to win a Triple Crown race (aboard Colonial Affair in the 1993 Belmont Stakes). Coincidentally, Pletcher’s first Triple Crown win came in the 2007 Belmont Stakes with the filly Rags to Riches. Twenty three fillies have run in the Belmont and they have a record of three wins, one second and six third-place finishes.

Favorite Flops
Being the favorite hardly means a guaranteed victory. Only three times in the last 18 years has the favorite won the Belmont, with Afleet Alex being the last in 2005. In that same span, the Belmont favorite has finished eighth or worse six times. In the last three years, the favorite has been completely off the board, finishing seventh, sixth, and ninth in that span. Four of the last five Belmont winners have been at least 11-1. In fact, since 2004, only two winners have been shorter than 4-1.

Nine different horses?
In the Derby, Orb, Golden Soul and Revolutionary completed the trifecta. In the Preakness, Oxbow, Itsmyluckyday and Mylute ran 1-2-3. If none of Orb, Oxbow, Golden Soul and Revolutionary finish in the top-3, nine different horses will have finished in the money in this year's Triple Crown. The last time all nine “in-the-money” spots went to different horses was 1926.

Orb looks to take next step at Preakness

May, 17, 2013
Five storylines to watch going into Saturday’s 138th Preakness Stakes.

1. One down, two to go
If Kentucky Derby winner Orb wins the Preakness, he would become the 13th horse to win the first two legs of the Triple Crown since 1978, when Affirmed became the last horse to win the Triple Crown.

Last year, I’ll Have Another was scratched prior to the Belmont, while Big Brown did not finish in 2008.

You have to go back to Smarty Jones in 2004 (finished second) to find the last horse to finish the Belmont after winning the first two legs of the Triple Crown.

The 35 years since Affirmed is the longest drought ever for a Triple Crown winner. In fact, it’s nearly as long as the combined droughts ended by Secretariat (25 years) and Gallant Fox (11) combined.

2. Favorites fare well
Orb’s favored status doesn’t necessarily mean victory. But if recent history is a guide, a top-two finish is likely.

The post-time favorite in the Preakness has finished first or second in 13 of the past 15 years. Barbaro did not finish the race as the post-time favorite in 2006. Four years later, Super Saver became the first favorite to complete the race and run out of the money since Cavonnier in 1996. Only seven Derby winners since 1973 have run out of the money

The last post-time favorite to actually win was Rachel Alexandra in 2009.

3. Lukas chases record
Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas brings three horses to the Preakness: Oxbow, Titletown Five and Will Take Charge.
That improves his chances, as he looks to break Jim Fitzsimmons’ record of 13 Triple Crown race wins.

Five of Lukas’ 13 Triple Crown wins have come at the Preakness.

A sixth would place him in sole possession of second place all-time by a trainer behind Robert Walden’s seven.

4. Orb alone among top Derby finishers
Neither Derby runner-up Golden Soul, nor third place finisher Revolutionary run in the Preakness, marking just the 10th time since the Preakness has been regularly run after the Derby (since 1933) that neither the horse which crossed the finish line second or third in the Derby ran back in the Preakness.

Of the eight Derby winners to run back in those editions of the Preakness, five won.

5. No Derby usually means no win
Only eight horses since 1952 have won the Preakness without starting the Derby, most recently Rachel Alexandra in 2009 and Bernardini in 2006. This year, three horses could join that list: Titletown Five, Departing and Govenor Charlie.