FLORIDA DERBY | PURSE: $1 MILLION | 3-YEAR-OLDS | GRADE 1 | 1 1/8 MILE
Trainer Shug McGaughey said he was waiting for Orb to take him to Louisville. The Hall of Fame conditioner should be on his way after the colt's impressive win in the $1 million Besilu Stables Florida Derby March 30.
Under a patient ride from John Velazquez, 5-2 shot Orb headed favored Itsmyluckyday approaching the sixteenth pole and coasted home in front to secure a berth in the Kentucky Derby May 4.
Orb won by 2 3/4 lengths while completing the 1 1/8-mile distance in 1:50.87.
Combined with his win in the Besilu Stables Fountain of Youth Feb. 23, Orb has 150 points and rockets to the lead in the standings for a berth in the Derby. The Florida Derby was worth 100 points, with 40 points to the runner-up, 20 to third, and 10 to fourth.
Juvenile champion Shanghai Bobby was a no-show in the Florida Derby, finishing off the board, and appears to be on the outside looking in at the Derby.
Itsmyluckyday, the 8-5 pick in the field of 10 3-year-olds, held second and looks solid for a slot in the Derby starting gate with 50 points. Outsider Merit Man, who set a tepid pace, was third, with 99-1 shot Narvaez fourth.
Orb, a Kentucky-bred son of Malibu Moon out of the winning Unbridled mare Lady Liberty, races for his breeders, Stuart Janney III and Ogden Mills "Dinny" Phipps.
Orb raced mid-pack for Velazquez as Merit Man showed the way over Narvaez, Itsmyluckyday, and Shanghai Bobby at the rail. Fractions for the first six furlongs were comfortable at :24.74, :48.57, and 1:12.89.
Itsmyluckyday, ridden by Elvis Trujillo, stalked the pace three wide before taking over at the quarter pole. The Holy Bull winner led by one length in the stretch as Orb advanced to collar Merit Man. Itsmyluckyday continued to lead past the eighth pole when challenged by Orb, and could not keep pace as Orb drew off impressively.
Itsmyluckyday was 2 1/4 lengths clear of third-place Merit Man, with Narvaez five lengths farther back in fourth. Shanghai Bobby, contending with the rail post, stalked the pace at the inside for Rosie Napravnik into the far turn but weakened in the stretch to be fifth. He was followed by Pick of the Litter, Frac Daddy, Are You Kidding Me, Indy's Illusion, and Pontiff.
Orb, who started the year with an allowance/optional claiming win at Gulfstream Jan. 26, is 3-for-3 over the track this meet. He won the Fountain of Youth by half a length over Violence Feb. 23, coming from off the pace.
The bay colt is on a four-race winning streak since breaking his maiden in his fourth start last November at Aqueduct Racetrack. The $600,000 winner's share of the Florida Derby extended Orb's career earnings to $921,050.
Under equal weights of 122 pounds, third choice Orb paid $7.80, $3.80, $3.40. Itsmyluckyday returned $3 and $2.60. The exacta was worth $23.40. Merit Man paid $8.60 to show.