The Norman Transcript

April 2, 2013

New head of the pack

By Richard Rosenblat
The Associated Press

NORMAN — Orb’s on top.

The colt moved to the head of the 3-year-old class in the AP’s latest Run to the Roses’ Top 10 list of Kentucky Derby contenders with a convincing win in the Florida Derby over the weekend.

Orb was No. 4 last week, but has a four-race winning streak and even has the usually reserved Shug McGaughey excited about the Derby on May 4.

“I’m kind of surprised how well he bounced out of his race, to tell you the truth,” McGaughey said the day after Orb beat Itsmyluckyday by 23⁄4 lengths at Gulfstream Park on Saturday.

Orb replaces Verrazano at No. 1, but trainer Todd Pletcher’s colt has a chance to reclaim the top spot with a strong effort in the Wood Memorial on Saturday.

Both horses are ridden by John Velazquez, who faces a tough decision on who to ride in the Derby should Verrazano win the Wood.

Revolutionary moved into third place with a narrow win over Mylute in the Louisiana Derby on Saturday. Also trained by Pletcher, Revolutionary heads to Louisville with a three-race winning streak.

Shanghai Bobby, yet another Pletcher-trainee, finished fifth in the Florida Derby and dropped off the list. Owner Starlight Racing said Monday that the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile champion will be given a rest and will miss the Derby.

Vyjack is fourth and Itsmyluckyday fifth despite the defeat.

Lines of Battle did not make the top 10, but is Derby bound for trainer Aidan O’Brien after winning the UAE Derby in Dubai on Saturday.

McGaughey is looking at his second Derby starter in 24 years. And with the Derby distance at 11⁄4 miles — a quarter-mile longer than the Florida Derby — he seems to like his chances.

“I think he’s the kind of horse that’s probably better the farther they get,” he said.

The Derby field will be determined by qualifying points this year; the 20 horses with the most points gain a spot in the starting gate. Orb leads with 150 points; Revolutionary is second with 110; Lines of Battle third with 100; and Verrazano ninth with 50.

Two big preps are on tap Saturday, the Wood at Aqueduct and the Santa Anita Derby in Arcadia, Calif.

The 11⁄8-mile Wood not only features Verrazano and Vyjack, but Derby hopefuls Normandy Invasion, Mr Palmer and Einaawi.

The 11⁄8-mile Santa Anita also has a strong field, with San Felipe winner Hear the Ghost, Goldencents, and three horses trained by Bob Baffert: expected favorite Flashback, Power Broker and Super Ninety Nine.

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