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Kentucky Derby Winner Orb Returns to Belmont Park

Kentucky Derby winner Orb, Hall of Fame trainer Shug McGaughey and jockey Joel Rosario returned to Belmont Park Sunday, prepared to gear up for the next leg of the Triple Crown.

Orb

Orb

Orb’s next goal is the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico on Saturday, May 18. The series concludes June 8 with the 145th running of the Grade 1, $1 million Belmont Stakes. Orb, who is co-owned by Stuart S. Janney, III and the Phipps family, arrived at Belmont Park barn just before 3 p.m. after an uneventful flight from Louisville, with McGaughey arriving about an hour later.

“I don’t know that I’ve been able to sit down and think about it yet, but I will, now that I’m home,” said McGaughey of his first Derby victory. “The last 10-12 days [leading up to the race] had been absolutely perfect. Everything went right for us. I had a quiet confidence about me – I didn’t get nervous like I thought I would.

“To see the race unfold the way I thought it would unfold – they kept saying there wasn’t going to be a lot of pace, but I thought there would be a lot of pace, and there was a thought at one time, ‘Are we too far back?’ – but when he punched the button, I knew we were going to have something to say about it. To see that horse run the way he did was an absolute thrill for me.”

McGaughey said Orb would likely ship to Baltimore on May 13 or 14, and added he was  looking forward to the second leg of the Triple Crown.

“He’s not overcooked, and I think we have time for him to get over this race and get to the next one,” said the trainer. “I think probably the important ones that are in there that have gone through the same thing, except for Departing, who’s had a couple extra weeks.”

Rosario, who moved his tack from the West coast to New York last summer, went into Sunday’s card at Belmont leading the nation in wins (130) and earnings (nearly $7.5 million) – which does not include his victory aboard Animal Kingdom in the $10 million Dubai World Cup on March 30.

“To win the Dubai World Cup, a $10 million race, and then to win the Derby – it’s more than a dream,” said Rosario. “It’s awesome.”

NYRA photo