McGaughey on Orb: ‘It Just Wasn’t His Day’

by | 05.19.2013 | 9:03am

After a disappointing fourth-place effort in the Preakness Stakes on Saturday from stable star Orb, trainer Shug McGaughey was looking for answers.

Although he initially thought the far inside post position would be no problem for the Kentucky Derby winner, McGaughey told reporters after the Preakness that he thought it ended up being a more significant factor than he'd anticipated. From where the trainer sat, Orb appeared “crammed down in on the inside the whole way” and he could tell the horse wasn't comfortable but was hoping he was wrong.

“When he started making that run, I thought, ‘Well he must be a little more comfortable down there than he looks to me.' Obviously he wasn't,” said McGaughey.

McGaughey did not believe the two weeks' turnaround time between the Derby and the Preakness had any impact on Orb. He is interested in running the horse in the Belmont Stakes on June 8.

“I still thought we would close into it, but it just wasn't his day,” he said. “He was just never real comfortable once he got down in there. I'm disappointed. I'll probably be way more disappointed tomorrow, but I know the game. It is highs and lows, probably more lows than highs.”

Read more at USA Today

  • Genellen

    I’m so sorry for all of Orb’s connections, especially Jenn Patterson, whose heart clearly belongs to this horse. Too many media were talking Triple Crown, when they forgot that you have to win the Preakness first. This was my TC dream, spoiled again. But Secretariat, Man o’ War, Zenyatta, and countless others who went on to become champions all lost at least once. Just hope Orb is OK and now that the pressure is off, he can become what his fans hope and want him to be. Congrats to the winner; very cool for Gary Stevens especially!

    • Knowitall

      Nice comments. Shug is so classy to the core in how he has handled all of it, from the highest high to the minor low of yesterday’s loss. And turns out that Jen knew what to fear when she was crestfallen over drawing one hole for Orb. No real excuses other than he isn’t used to or didn’t like being down inside horses or maybe the deeper going. And Gary Stevens hasn’t let school out for the summer just yet;-)

    • nu-fan

      Yes, Genellen, I started cringing a little when I kept hearing the same expectations from ALL of the racing analysts. Too many were annointed Orb a TC winner a little prematurely. Maybe, they are just following the herd mentality but it can place such unrealistic expectations on everyone.

  • Big Red

    The real question is maybe, just maybe, ORB isn’t that good of a horse.
    I never understood the hype on a horse that could only run slow last quarters, never really faced the best 3 y/o’s, lost his “regular rider”, ran his eyeballs out on a sloppy track, paid 12 bucks to win in the Derby, and only improved when given Lasix.
    All I can say is that the cool-aid must have been really good while it lasted.

    • “Never really faced the best three year old.” Where are the really good three year olds hiding? Orb is a good horse,maybe not great, but to say he has avoided the “good three year olds” is absurd.

      • nu-fan

        Absurd? Yes. But, it is a comment that one expects from Big Red. Never has anything good to say about anything or anyone.

    • What are you talking about? Orb is a very good horse. There was something wrong. The pace was very slow and yet he slipped back. Rosario even said that he was worried about him. Something either happened at that point, or he was not right somehow. The half went in 48:60. Any TB can run that, and Orb wasn’t even in front, so say 49 or slower. And he dropped BACK at the half. They should have bloodwork done and be looking for a problem, not just putting it down to racing luck.

      • Diane

        I agree 100%

    • how about not working the horse half a mile!!!

      • Knowitall

        You mean like Oxbow did last Monday?

    • Big Red…Neck…

  • Ida Lee

    Orb is a really good horse. But just like all athletes, he not only needs the athletic ability to win the big ones, but there’s a certain amount of luck needed too. Orb ran out of luck when he drew that #1 post. I could see him surrounded by all those talented horses and he looked like he just said to himself…this is ridiculous, there’s no place for me to go….this is not fun anymore. I do hope Orb goes to the BeImont…I think he’ll take it. Now, to the winner…I never would have picked Oxbow to win but if anybody had to, I’m glad it was Oxbow with the fabulous Gary Stevens on board. Way to go Gary!!!

    • I agree with you. It certainly matters what the horse thinks. I did like Oxbow, in the Derby, and placed a bet on him for the Preakness. Though I don’t think he can beat Orb on Orb’s best day. He had the perfect trip in the Preakness. Gary Stevens controlled the pace perfectly – which is why he’s Gary Stevens. It was great to see Lukas and Stevens win. And Lukas is totally correct, as Swaps55 noted, you can’t win if you don’t run. And anyone can win on any given day – that is horseracing. I always hate it when people (announcers for example) go on and on with their “analysis”. How often are they right? Almost never.

      • Determinato

        The old saying goes “Pace makes the race” and that was never more true than in this race. Gary Stevens and Oxebow went a very soft half and and even softer three quarters and was able to gallop home. Orb is a really nice horse and as it always happens, the Derby winner get too much credit/hype. The Preakness is a different distance, different track, and a different field with different post positions. All the stars were lined up for an “upset” if you want to call it that. Orb benifited from a sucidal pace in the Derby and was partially done in by a slow pace in the Preakness. Orb might have had another issue but time will tell.

  • swaps55

    We really don’t know yet how good this crop of foals is. However, I commend D Wayne Lucas for proving once again that if you do not enter you cannot win. Before a race, every horse has a chance. And it is hoped that Orb will race many times and not be stage managed for as few losses as possible, which seems to be the game plan for so many stables that are stud market oriented.. Orb is a good colt and I agree with the observation that even the great ones lose once in a while. Oxbow caught the perfect day, perfect pace and trip….for him. He is a good colt. Certainly not a great one yet. But a classic winner who got a good trip after several bad ones. Shug is such a nice classy down home kind of guy. And so is Wayne Lucas. And how about that Stevens? Lots of fun story lines this year, even the last place finisher Titletown Five. Now we wait and see if Pletcher and his galactic empire stable can win the Belmont.

  • Richard C

    I gather Rosario’s instructions did not include staying on the cuppy lane of the track and attempting to Borail it around the oval. But lost in all the analysis is the trophy going to Calumet Farm — which staggered into obscurity years ago due to any number of shadowy issues….but now appears ready for a renaissance – of sorts – under a new caretaker.

    • I am always surprised when jockeys don’t just get off the rail sometimes. Yes, you lose some ground – but the benefits can be much larger. I was yelling at the TV (at Julien Leparoux) when he kept Union Rags down on the rail in the Derby. What was he thinking????? I notice he doesn’t do it anymore either.

  • It is especially hard that you know that you have an extraordinary horse and he loses.There were ciircumstances for this horse that did`n help him in the race.But anyway these is a especial kind of horse and he will show it in future races.Shug better days are coming

  • Sue M. Chapman

    Orb never picked up his feet. Nor was the inside the place to be.
    Amazing that not one of Pletcher’s handful of Derby starters showed up yesterday in Maryland.

    • Good point. Where were Pletcher’s horses? And Baffert’s horse finished a poor 8th. One has to wonder if tighter security made the difference.

  • wt?

    Rosario’s ride was indecisive and strange. He was down in the saddle out of the gate and then up in the irons on the far turn. His normally vigorous stretch ride was missing. He was expected to drop back at the start and loop the field…instead he rushed up into contention and was even sitting third at one point, then he backed off. A very strange ride. Watch it again and only watch Orb.

    • The pace was very slow, he did the right thing by being closer. But he should have gone outside. Still the horse didn’t run like himself, and if you listened to Rosario after the race he really seemed concerned something was wrong with the horse and didn’t really push him. Which if it were my horse, I would be grateful for.

  • nu-fan

    I was just speaking, this past week, with someone who has owned several racehorses in the past but still stays current with the racing industry. He favored Orb but also made a comment that I rarely have heard others express: “Some days, I get out of bed not feeling my best and, other days, I can lick the world. Why would racehorses not also have those kind of days?” It really hit home to me since I have always thought the same. Horses are living creatures and not machines. We can look at track conditions, workouts, traffic on the track and so many other variables but, perhaps, some days are better than others for horses as they are for us.
    In another comment, a week or two ago, I heard one Hall-of-Fame jockey (can’t remember which one right now) who commented in an interview that, perhaps, the horses that won the TC–so many, many years ago–were “freaks of nature”. Perhaps, he was right. In most human sports, records are broken on a fairly regular basis. Now, another year without a TC winner. Why?

    • I think that’s absolutely true. I hope that’s all it was, that and being on the rail. As for TC winners being freaks of nature. I think they were just true racehorses who gave all they had every time. Which is what the Triple Crown proves. It hasn’t been won lately because of some bad luck, as well as lack of truly outstanding 3 year olds. I believe I’ll Have Another would have done it, had he not had physical issues. I don’t think it’s any coincidence that it hasn’t been won since drugs became legal. If you talk to anyone on Lasix, and other drugs (like steroids) they feel like crap. Just because horses can’t talk doesn’t mean they feel good.

      • nu-fan

        You and I are on the same page. Barring anything unusual or unexpected, I’ll Have Another would have won the Triple Crown last year. If drugs are the issue that keeps another TC winner from occurring, wouldn’t one think that the racing establishment have figured this out? If this is true cause and effect, shouldn’t the entire industry have stepped up and changed how drugs are given so seemingly freely? But, you might be on to something. What else can explain this drought?

  • Joel had a shot at the beginning of the race to get him outside but he choose not to…He broke fine but his first strides out of the gate looked like he was in Quicksand…Orb may well redeem himself in the Belmont…Hope he runs in it…

  • It was more like the Preakness exposed the Derby for what it was: A race where a suicidal pace affected the outcome. Orb has absolutely, positively no excuses whatsoever, dead rail or not. If he were a real champion, he would have overcome that to win.


    Aside from the rail post and form cycles of thoroughbreds regressing after running a very fast speed figure in their prior race ,the pace of the race can be critical when a horse such as Orb,
    who is a sustained/late runner finds himself in a paceless race.
    This was the scenario on Saturday, which allowied Oxbow to coast to victory in one of the slowest Preakness races in over 100 years.
    It was nauseating to listen to the post race comments of the jockeys who complained their
    horses couldn’t cope with the weather and wet track, in a “championship” event.

  • Brig

    Orb probably didnt like the track not just the rail
    Winner had highest wet score

  • Orb is a GOOD horse and I was rooting for him but it turns out he isn’t a GREAT horse which is what it takes to win the Triple Crown. A GREAT horse will overcome all to win-ie. Zenyatta, Rachel Alexandra, Black Caviar, Secretariat, Affirmed, etc., etc.

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