At this point in the career of a good 3-year-old Thoroughbred, the question is always one of distance. Shug McGaughey says the answer can lie in nature.
“I always thought that if the horse wants to run that far, it’s not going to be demanding on him. If you’re trying to make a horse do something that maybe he doesn’t want to do, then it might take more out of him than it would naturally,” McGaughey said Tuesday at Pimlico. “I think Orb is the kind of horse that naturally wants to go a distance of ground. In the Derby, with the pace, he got to run his race and we didn’t take him out of any game plan.”
The shedrow can be another matter for Orb, at least it was this morning.
“He had a lot of energy. I walked him a few turns and had to give him up,” McGaughey said with a smile. “So far, so good. I worried a little bit yesterday coming down here: ‘Am I going too early?’ But I’m glad we got in here while it’s still good and quiet and got settled in. He had a good night and a nice morning. Everything is good.”
Orb breezed four furlongs at Belmont Park Monday morning in :47.18 under Jenn Patterson before being vanned to Pimlico. He came out of the work in good condition.
“She was so worried that she had gone too fast,” the trainer said. ”I had to assure her that the way he did it, he didn’t,” McGaughey said. “I asked her this morning, ‘Still think he went too fast?’ She just laughed.”
McGaughey said Orb is showing signs that the rigors of the Triple Crown Trail haven't gotten to him.
“It shows the development he’s going through. He’s showing us in his daily routine since the Derby that he’s still moving forward,” he said. “What he’s going to show in the afternoon, who knows? But right now, I’m really, really pleased with what I see.”
McGaughey, 62, walked the racetrack Tuesday morning with Patterson for the first time since he was there with Easy Goer in 1989. He lost by a nose then.
“As soon as I got here, it all came back to me – where I needed to be, where I was going,” he said. “I feel like I’m back on familiar ground, and I’m tickled to death to be here.”
--By Dick Downey