Stuart Janney III and Phipps Stable’s Orb breezed four furlongs in :47.80 under exercise rider Jennifer Patterson Monday morning at Churchill Downs.
Working in company, Orb broke off just behind stablemate Overwhelming before pulling even on the turn and drawing clear by several lengths through the stretch. The Florida Derby (GI) winner galloped out five furlongs in 1:00.80.
Joel Rosario, who is slated to ride Orb in the Derby, was aboard Overwhelming, a 3-year-old maiden who was clocked in :48.60.
Orb posted the fifth fastest half-mile workout of 43 recorded Monday morning after turning in fractions of :23.80 and :35.80.
“I wanted to work him a half-mile to put him in the game. He left his workmate pretty easily and finished up well. He’s had a little bit of a tendency in his races when he’s made the lead he thought he’d done enough. So we wanted him to finish and go by the other horse and he did it,” trainer Shug McGaughey said. “Jenn was happy, so that makes me happy.”
Orb pleased his Hall of Fame trainer with his professionalism during his morning outing.
“Churchill is a bit different sometimes, so I was hoping this is what I’d see,” he said. “I’ve been a little bit nervous hoping he’d work well, and I think it did go well. He dropped his head and walked home the way you’d want him to and he didn’t break a sweat. She (Patterson) felt he didn’t get out of a high gallop.”
Since shipping in from the country setting at Payson Park in Indiantown, Fla., the son of Malibu Moon has adapted well to his new and busier surroundings.
“He went to the gate Friday; that went perfect; he went to the paddock Saturday night and that went perfect, as well as you could expect the first time over there, especially at night. He’ll go again on Wednesday,” McGaughey said. “He’s fit in here as well as I could expect. As of right now, I’ve got no qualms. We have four, five more days to go.”
If all continues to go well, Orb will be only the second Kentucky Derby starter for McGaughey since he saddled Easy Goer for a second-place finish behind Sunday Silence in 1989. A native of Lexington, Ky., McGaughey has always dreamed of winning the Kentucky Derby.
“It’s on top of my list and it has been for a long time. Even though we haven’t been here that many times, every year when we get a bunch of 2-year-olds, I’m hoping that one of them will be the horse that can give us the opportunity,” said McGaughey, who saddled Saarland for a 10th-place finish in 2002. “All we want is the opportunity. I feel what will be will be when race day comes.”
McGaughey isn’t trying to hide his feelings now that Orb is providing him a solid opportunity.
“I’m excited. I have been since the Florida Derby. We came here with the idea that we’re going to be excited and try to have fun with it. I know Wednesday or Thursday, the nerves are going to set in – not that they weren’t last night anticipating this morning,” McGaughey said. “I’m having a good time. I’m comfortable in Louisville. I’ve stabled at Churchill and was in this barn (No. 43). I lived here for three or four years.”
Reed Palmer photo