Haskin's Derby Report: Orb Catches the Eye

It didn’t take the eagle eye of Bob Baffert long to zero in on Orb, who has flourished since arriving at Churchill Downs, and there is no doubt the son of Malibu Moon is moving in the right direction. He has been alert and feeling good, yet seems settled and content, thanks in part to the constant TLC he’s been receiving by the Shug McGaughey team.

“Man, he gets over the ground,” Baffert said. “I love the way he moves; what a beautiful moving horse. He just scoots over it. He really caught my eye today.”

From past experience at the Derby, when Baffert takes notice of a horse the way he did of Orb it is wise to pay attention.

Not only did Orb have an exceptionally smooth gallop this morning, he demonstrated how good he feels by buck jumping coming down the stretch. One second he was moving along in perfect stride, and then out of nowhere, he leaped forward with his front legs while kicking back with his hind legs, and then calmly went about his business once again, galloping along smoothly.

Each morning after entering the track, he stands at the rail for several minutes and just soaks it all up, while enjoying the affection lavished on him by Maureen Fisher on the pony and exercise rider Jennifer Patterson. He occasionally will close his eyes as if in total bliss.

This column actually is a day early, as Orb is scheduled to work on Monday, but you can call this more of a lead-in to the work, which will be the headline grabber tomorrow. With so little activity today, it is a good time to focus on the Florida Derby and Fountain of Youth winner, and briefly discuss a horse who is showing all the signs you look for in a horse preparing for the Kentucky Derby.

(All photos by Steve Haskin):



Orb makes for a beautiful portrait -- alert and content


Maureen Fisher does a little forelock straightening


A little scratching under the chin has to feel good


Now that is what you call total contentment


Maureen Fisher and Jennifer Patterson assure a happy horse


Just a tender moment


Drinking water off his leg while being hosed down

As for Baffert’s own Derby horses, he will have one, two or none. He worked Code West in company with Midnight Lucky this morning, and although the gray tigress once again got the better of her male workmate, this time by only a half-length, Baffert was happy with the way the colt went, and is willing to excuse his uncharacteristically dull effort in the Louisiana Derby. A decision will be made tomorrow after talking with owner Gary West and racing manager Ben Glass. The alternative would be to wait for the Preakness or the Peter Pan and then the Belmont. It would seem the Peter Pan would be the most likely, but it is up in the air right now. The son of Lemon Drop Kid, like his sire, is a grinder who goes along at one pace and just keeps going. He would seem like an ideal Belmont horse.

In today’s work, Code West went five furlongs in 1:00 2/5, out six panels in a brisk 1:12 3/5. He came home his final eighth in a sharp :11 3/5. He can thank Midnight Lucky to some degree for contributing to the time of the work. She carries you along pretty good and you had better motor along if you want to keep up with her.

Baffert’s other Derby possibility, Govenor Charlie, is scheduled to work tomorrow and a decision will be made following the work. The son of Midnight Lute did have a brief physical setback and was sent to Rood & Riddle for a complete bone scan, which came up negative. Although his issues are behind him, Baffert is a bit concerned about the training the colt lost. He’s only had three lifetime starts, and only one horse, Big Brown, has won the Derby with so few starts in the past 98 years. If Govenor Charlie doesn’t run in the Derby, there is a good possibility he’ll go in the Preakness instead.

Govenor’s Charlie’s gallop today actually was the best he’s had, at least of the ones we’ve seen. He was moving with more authority and had better extension to his stride. He had not been showing much extension at all in his previous gallops.

Two new arrivals who took to the track for the first time today were Goldencents and Itsmyluckyday, and both looked great great. Goldencents is an eye catcher and once again was accompanied by a full Team O’Neill entourage that included assistant Leandro Mora and jockey Kevin Krigger, along with Krigger’s father, and his agent, Tom Knust. There is a great deal of confidence being exuded by everyone associated with the son of Into Mischief.

Itsmyluckyday just jogged around the track, but looked as if he owned the place and had been there his whole life. He strutted along with his neck slightly arched in regal splendor and just made a terrific appearance. For a horse who has accomplished as much as he has, expect him to be a mouth-watering price on Derby Day.

In addition to Orb and Govenor Charlie, tomorrow’s workers will include the Wayne Lukas pair of Oxbow and Will Take Charge, and the Todd Pletcher-trained Winning Cause, winner of the Lexington Stakes, whose Derby status will be determined by the work.

It looks as if Tiz a Minister will be headed to Kentucky following his third-place finish, beaten 4 1/2 lengths, in the Snow Chief Stakes at Hollywood Park. The big horse on the grounds still waiting to secure a berth in the Derby is the Dallas Stewart-trained Golden Soul, a fast-closing fourth in the Louisiana Derby.

40 Comments

Leave a Comment:

Derby Dew

Steve,

Thanks for the great insight you provide us by evaluating the works and appearance of the Derby hopefuls.  Only Mike Welsch can add to the description of these works.

BTW, what's the latest on Aiden O'Brien's Lines of Battle?  There's precious little news on him.  When's he due to arrive at Churchill?

28 Apr 2013 3:29 PM
Past The Grandstand

Great column as usual, Mr. Haskin. It is wonderful to hear that Orb is flourishing. He is a very talented colt and I believe he has a good chance at the Derby and other Triple Crown races. I am looking forward to his work tomorrow. Thanks for sharing!

Considering Orb is one of the horses I view as a top Derby contender, he is one of my featured "Derby Hopefuls" on my blog, Past the Grandstand: pastthegrandstand.blogspot.com/.../derby-hopeful-orb.html

Looking forward to more Derby columns! I always enjoy your posts.

28 Apr 2013 3:40 PM
Mister Frisky

Thanks Steve for the Baffert angle regarding Orb.Im not Blue Haired Bobs biggest fan, but that dude knows horseflesh.Every time the triple crown and BC comes around and all the classy horses are in one place,he is almost always spot on when it comes to who is ready to fire.Cant wait for your selections for Saturday.Thanks for being our eye in the sky.

28 Apr 2013 3:48 PM
smarie

Beautiful photos of Orb, Mr. Haskin. It is always wonderful to see an animal being loved on by people.

28 Apr 2013 4:03 PM
iceman92

when is lines of battle due to show up?

28 Apr 2013 4:25 PM
Kevin

Steve, weather now says a good possibility of rain for Derby Day.  Who do you like in a sloppy track?  

28 Apr 2013 5:14 PM
Ranagulzion

Verrazano, Overanalyze, Itsmyluckyday, Will Take Charge and Orb ...the Derby winner comes from this group, make no mistake about it.

Those fillies in the Oaks led by Dreaming of Julia and Midnight Lucky, are going to add further embarassment to the points system perpetrators that excluded fillies from the Derby.

28 Apr 2013 5:56 PM
smartysgal

I love Orb!  Good racing luck, big guy!

28 Apr 2013 7:26 PM
Davids

Orb certainly looked resplendent and relaxed.

28 Apr 2013 7:30 PM
Jim Dooher

When Orb took the lead in the Florida Derby, he reminded me of Calumet Farm's Gen. Duke who won the 1957 running over his Florida nemesis, Bold Ruler. Gen. Duke would have been the favorite for the Kentucky Derby but a foot injury kept him in the barn.

I am up in the air right now between Orb and Normandy Invasion. The latter, a come from behind runner, was gaining on Verrazano in the Wood Memorial which showed me he is a game horse.

Jim Dooher

28 Apr 2013 7:43 PM
GJU

Wow, your pictures are priceless, Steve. Orb's a beauty and you got some wonderful shots. If Orb wins the Derby I will be happy for Shug, who I think is a class act. Happy Derby Week, everyone!

28 Apr 2013 7:57 PM
tjconway

"Alert" is the key word for Orb. He's not gonna win a beauty contest, but he doesn't need to. He'll be my pick to win and place.....I just wonder what his final odds will be......no matter what the "win" price is, he'll pay a "juicy" place price!

28 Apr 2013 8:35 PM
Indiana Johnny

The excitement is building more each day. Just waiting on the draw, hopefully my top horse doesn't draw the dreaded post 1.

(1) Goldenscents

(1-tie) Orb

(use both on top in supers, and mix the below in next 3 spots)

(2)Normandy Invasion

(3) Revoulutionary

(4) Itsmyluckyday

(4-tie) Overanalyze

(5)Mylute

(6) might add on the botom only,

will take charge and frac daddy or Javas war.

28 Apr 2013 8:44 PM
Intothebridle

Hope to see the spectacular Orb carry those famous silks and Shug to the winner's circle Sat. Certainly would be popular winners and none more deserving for all they have given and endured for horse racing.

28 Apr 2013 9:05 PM
Dr Drunkinbum

These marvelous reports are quite a special gift, like my first ten speed as a kid. The entire Derby  Dozen has been a gift but these physicality reports are the presents you want to open most and are dying to know what's inside. It's fair to peak. Let's open the rest of the presents on Saturday especially the cards with lots of money inside. Thanks Steve, you're a generous man.

28 Apr 2013 9:45 PM
Cassandra.Says

Very sneaky, Steve. Diverting the "Cute!" vote to Orb.

28 Apr 2013 9:58 PM
Mike Monarchos

Beautiful photos of Orb Steve! Maybe you should be a photographer. I'd say you are with all these great photos you're showing us. You're lucky because the Bloodhorse is a great place to display them. I think Orb has moved into my top three now with Revolutionary and Verrazano. I'm glad you thought Itsmylucky looked good because I like him too

28 Apr 2013 10:38 PM
Debbiek

Steve, thanks for all the photos of Orb.  I love this horse!!!  I am really hoping for a TC winner this year.  I haven't been this hopeful since Barbaro.  If Ruffian smiles down on him maybe it will happen, but even if he doesn't he sure has done his ancestors proud :)  Go Orb!!!!

28 Apr 2013 11:24 PM
duchess

Love the picture of Orb with his eyes closed. If he were a cat rather  than a colt he would be emitting thunderous purrs.

29 Apr 2013 12:23 AM
John M

Great pics and comments Steve. Orb is one happy camper.

29 Apr 2013 1:12 AM
bellesforever

Thank you Steve..I have really high hopes for Orb and his team..it's Shug time!I love Normandy Invasion too ..of course I have great affection for the human connections of both teams..that said it has been a long time since those black and cherry silks have been seen on the first Saturday in May..he is a beautiful classic looking colt..safe trips!

29 Apr 2013 10:10 AM
PickingTheDerbyWinnerSomeday

eager to hear what u think of WTC looks on the track. let me know Steve, i heard he got big.

29 Apr 2013 10:46 AM
TripleCrownKaren

Steve, I was so happy to see your comments on OTB's condition and how he looks.    I'm supposed to be "impartial" in looking at my prospective bets for the DERBY but just REALLY want SHUG to get his Derby and for all the contributions the Janney family has made over the years to the sport.    If they had only had RUFFIAN that would have been enough.   But to have this horse coming up with all that historic breeding behind him.....(sigh) I just would really LOVE to see ORB & SHUG get this DERBY!!!    All the connections with this horse surely deserve it.

29 Apr 2013 11:20 AM
steve from st louis

Steve, Have you ever before seen a thoroughbred close their eyes with a rider and tack on their back? Orb must be feeling good! Everyone in racing would cheer Shug winning the Derby and his power-napping Orb may be the one to do it for him.

29 Apr 2013 11:36 AM
Steve Haskin

As for the slop horses, I will be going over the horses to watch on an off track in today's column

29 Apr 2013 12:01 PM
Steve Haskin

Steve, Affirmed used to practically fall asleep on his way to the gate. Then when he got to the gate he would get all pumped up.

29 Apr 2013 12:02 PM
Sail On

Really love the photos. I do not know what to think about Orb. I cant see him passing Verrazano, and I believe Normandy will catch him easily. Questions are, can Goldencents hang on, will Charming Kitten surprise?

I see Orb better than most, a top 10 finisher.

29 Apr 2013 12:15 PM
derbylin

I really respect Bob Baffert and his decision not to run his horses. If they aren't ready, they aren't ready and he isn't running just to be in the race. And wont take up a spot in the gate that another horse could have had.  On down the road, his horses will make a statement. Good luck in the Oaks, Bob.

29 Apr 2013 12:21 PM
Giddyup

I think this years Derby race is a pretty wide open affair with several evenly matched contenders. If it comes down to which colt has the biggest heart it will be hard to go against Orb. This horse never gives less than 100% effort.

29 Apr 2013 1:20 PM
Ranagulzion

Orb indeed looks awesome but he's not alone in this department. Itsmyluckyday is breathing fire right now. The Todd squad led by Verrazano and Overanalyzie are waiting to explode.  Also, keep an eye on the D.Wayne Lukas pair carefully: Oxbow might be coming to play catch-me-if-you-can (he's a very fit horse that's bred to go the distance and he's not a quitter ...therfore you've been warned). Will Take Charge is being primed to come flying at the end and he'll be very dangerous with those big powerful strides.

Can Orb, a beautiful grandson of AP Indy be trusted to land the Derby and belatedly open the way for his sire-line in the Run-for-the-roses? I have my doubts, serious doubts they are but admittedly he has a great shot and the best wishes of all the supporters of his "old school" connections, the Phipps family.

I'm pretty confident that my group of five: Verrazano, Overanalyze, Itsmyluckyday, Will Take Charge and Orb is where you'll find the exactor and trifecta.

If Verrazano is the crackerjack colt that I presume he is, the race is on really for the minor placings but this is the Kentucky Derby in which the post positions and break from the gates can account for so much of the result therefore I'm putting a caveat on my prediction this year, especially with the Union Rags derby saga still a fresh painful memory ...I dont think that I'll have another this year with the super competitent, master of the pigskin, Johnny V, in the irons. The ones I fear most to upset the "Big Vs" are his stablemate Overanalyze (which I touted as the best 2YO colt of last season, also my early season Derby choice that has really blossomed in time to make me possibly regret jumping off unto Verrazano) and Itsmyluckyday (he could be a freak that blows away the opposition and turns the race into a funeral procession ...sitting on a really big race, coming into this).

Anyway, when all is contemplated, said and done, I'll borrow a line from my fellow veteran blog poster, Zarvona:  Go Verrazano, go Verrazano, go baby!!! go!!!

29 Apr 2013 1:51 PM
steve from st louis

That's decent company!

29 Apr 2013 1:52 PM
Slew

Watched Pursuit of the Crown today on HRTV. Clockers agree.  The most impressive workers for the past week have been:

ORB

REVOLUTIONARY

MIDNIGHT LUCKY

I'm liking that!

29 Apr 2013 2:16 PM
Slew

I thought I post this in the morning; sorry if it comes up x2

I love this horse.

Jeff Siegel, on HRTV, listed his top 5, which he feels any of the 5 can win.

At 5, he felt Goldencents was being underestimated.

At number 3, Jeff said of Orb, "He's the best chance for a Triple Crown, but first, he has to win the Derby."

Music to my ears.  GO ORB!

The photos are stunning, Steve!  Thank you so much!  I like the photos that show Orb can smile.  He reminds me a contented kitten.

29 Apr 2013 2:24 PM
predict

Steve,

Great pics, really appreciate this stuff, thanks.

Looking forward to the "slop" article, this is going to be very important information. Saturday is predicted to be the highest possible chance of rain this week, with a 70% chance and as much as .4 inches of rain, darn. I wish we could always have a dry race day on Derby day, but that is not in the clouds this year.

If Oxbow likes a wet track, I believe he will win; if a horse doesn't enter the stretch in close competition to the front, it will be unlikely for a deep closer to find his best path, in the slop, to the front. Too bad for Java's War, who definitely won't win if it is sloppy. Expect Revolutionary with Calvin to be another good bet in the rain, in fact I can almost see him standing, all drenched, in the winner circle already.

29 Apr 2013 3:03 PM
ksweatman9

Orb has a nobility about him judging from his photos. Don't read too much into this, but I think he has a "Man O' War" profile. All that being said, how lucky will the handsome horse be on derby day? I would love to see one horse stand out from the rest this year and maybe, maybe, dare I dream, win the triple and not break a leg doing it. Is that too much to ask? Let's see how they line up, who gets lucky, who leaves the draw crying. GOOD LUCK to Orb and ALL! I love derby fever and I don't even have a horse in the game.

29 Apr 2013 3:04 PM
5stardayy

well today work  said  its OVER. 500WP ORB orb/all/will take charge,OXBOW, Ninvasion. tri

29 Apr 2013 5:05 PM
TerriV

Your pictures of Orb are wonderful!  He must be a really laid back fellow to handle everything so easily. All horses should be so loved.  He is an intriguing horse. It's been 40 years - wouldn't it be grand!!  Thank you so much for the stories and info, the only thing better would be to be there myself.  Maybe that dream will come true someday.

29 Apr 2013 9:00 PM
Alex'sBigFan

What great photos of Orb.  I may make him #3 after Lucky, Verrazano, and put Rev. at #4.  He is a nice looking colt and he has those kind eyes and pricked ears, very aware.  After seeing him like this I really am starting to like Orb.  And If Bob Baffert says he's gliding over this track well that says a lot.  I am glad Orb enjoys all the pampering from Jennifer and Maureen.

Unfortunate Baffert's horses cannot be in the Derby but if there was a setback or "hiccup" then they are not quite ready.

Glad to hear LuckyDay is getting over the track like he owns it.

Appreciate all these great photos Steve.  Keep them coming!

29 Apr 2013 11:27 PM
Alex'sBigFan

On the KD website they have Orb singing a cute little country ditty about the Derby!  Very cute.

Great choice of country superstar Martina McBride singing the national anthem at Churchill on Derby Day.  Kudos Churchill marketing.  

30 Apr 2013 12:02 AM
Bill Two

I hope Mr. Janney has better luck with Orb than he had with Private Terms, who went off favored in the Derby and finished up the track. That horse ran a powerhouse race in the Wood which made it appear he was going to be a force to be reckoned with in the Derby.  Unfortunately, it didn't happen that way.  Orb certainly gives every indication he will be a force in the Derby, but it's never that easy.  There are a lot of colts pointing for the Derby who are blossoming now or are about to blossom and this of course is what makes it so difficult to approach the race with a lot of confidence.  Best of racing luck to all.

30 Apr 2013 11:15 AM

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