Derby Launched Into Orb-it

The day finally had arrived. Everything had gone perfectly for Orb and trainer Shug McGaughey. So perfectly in fact that one couldn’t help but feel there were forces guiding the colt every step of the way, from the early days this winter at Payson Park to his breakout performances in the Fountain of Youth Stakes (gr. II) and Florida Derby (gr. I).

With every breeze, every gallop, and every race, the son of Malibu Moon – Lady Liberty, by Unbridled became stronger, constantly moving forward both mentally and physically. As each obstacle was cleared, such as the colt’s final work and the dreaded post position draw, McGaughey grew more outwardly confident and excited, which in some ways seemed out of character for the usually taciturn trainer, who keeps his emotions in check and lets his horses do all the talking. Well, Orb was doing a lot of shouting and the Kentucky-born McGaughey couldn’t help but feel his life-long dream of grabbing the coveted roses was about to come true.

While all the Derby starters remained in their respective barns on a damp overcast Derby morning, with steady rains approaching quickly, two lone figures made their way in the darkness toward the track at 5:45. Orb stood calmly with exercise rider Jen Patterson aboard, as McGaughey leaned against the rail and took one final look at the colt before having him jog once around.

“I’m excited,” McGaughey said. “And I’m excited about this afternoon.”

Some 12 hours later, Orb, with Joel Rosario up, came charging through the slop from 17th in the 19-horse field to win the $2,174,800 Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) by 2 1/2 lengths as the $5.40-1 favorite.

The Derby gods had indeed worked their magic. Despite the deep, talented field that had assembled for the 139th Derby, this was the year when McGaughey and the Janney and Phipps families were destined to restore the Sport of Kings to the way it was and the way it was meant to be, when true sportsmen and their private stables and homebred Thoroughbreds ruled the Turf.

Turn the clocks back to 1988. As the field swept around the far turn of the Gotham Stakes (gr. II), two horses came charging up to the leaders eyeball to eyeball, moving as a team. In the red and white silks of Stuart Janney Jr. was the 10-1 Maryland invader Private Terms, trained by Charlie Hadry. Right alongside him, matching stride for stride, was the 3-5 favorite Seeking the Gold, trained by Shug McGaughey, in the familiar black silks and cherry red cap of Ogden Phipps.

The undefeated Private Terms began separating himself from Seeking the Gold, opening a two-length lead at the eighth pole. But the Phipps colt came back at him, falling three-quarters of a length short. Both colts would meet again two weeks later in the Wood Memorial, with Private Terms again defeating Seeking the Gold, this time by 1 1/2 lengths in stakes-record time.

Their rivalry would continue in the Kentucky Derby, won by Winning Colors, and come to a conclusion in the Haskell Invitational (gr. I), with Seeking the Gold getting beat a nose by Claiborne Farm’s Forty Niner in an epic stretch duel, as Private Terms narrowly missed third by a half-length.

In September of that year, Stuart Janney Jr., who had been married to Ogden Phipps’ sister, Barbara Phipps Janney before her death the previous year, was killed in an automobile accident at age 81, suffering a heart attack while driving to his home at Locust Hill Farm in Glyndon, Md. The Janney stable, which had reached its apex in 1975 with the legendary ill-fated Ruffian, eventually was taken over by Janney’s son, Stuart Janney III. In 2002, Ogden Phipps died, with his son Ogden Mills, better known as Dinny, becoming patriarch of the longtime racing dynasty.

It has been 25 years since the two families clashed in those memorable 1-2 finishes in the Gotham and Wood Memorial. Still looking for their first Kentucky Derby victory after so few attempts over the years, the Janneys and Phippses joined forces, racing as partners in a well-bred Malibu Moon colt named Orb, who they also bred in partnership, although Dinny now kids how he didn’t like Orb’s dam, Lady Liberty, and tried to persuade his cousin to sell her. “But he outsmarted me and bred her to Malibu Moon and here I am,” Dinny said.

The fourth dam of Orb, is Laughter, who is by the Phipps family’s great racehorse and stallion Bold Ruler, out of Ruffian’s dam, Shenanigans, so this racing and breeding partnership goes back five generations.  To come up with a horse like Orb, they reached into the pedigrees and descendants of racing titans Damascus and Dr. Fager, who were involved in the epic 1967 Woodward Stakes showdown with Ogden Phipps’ mighty Buckpasser.

It seemed as if the Derby gods or whatever other-worldly entity you care to attribute it to had finally found the perfect year to reward not only two long-established families, but the Sport of Kings itself. This was Thoroughbred racing at its purest, with the blood of champions being regenerated through the decades to give the sport a sense of continuity, while serving as a reminder of where it came from. The Phipps family in particular is the last of a dying breed of sportsmen who built a foundation strong enough to withstand the passage of time and an ever-changing world, where tradition and sportsmanship have been eroding with each passing year.

McGaughey, the Phippses, and Janney are the last remaining pillars of strength, and as long as their familiar silks continue to adorn horses like Orb, those pillars will never crumble.

Ogden Phipps must have felt a Kentucky Derby victory was imminent after his 30-1 shot Dapper Dan’s powerful stretch run in 1965 fell a neck short of catching the fully extended winner Lucky Debonair.

“I was here that day and I bet on Dapper Dan,” said Dinny, now 72, as he was being wheeled from the track following the winner’s circle presentation. “And I’ll bet you I didn’t make 10 bets before that or 10 bets after. I just had a feeling that he would run well. That was a long time ago.”

But Ogden Phipps would have only two more Derby starters over the next 37 years – Seeking the Gold in 1988 and Easy Goer in 1989. Dinny would run only one – Awe Inspiring in 1989; and his daughter, Cynthia, racing in her grandmother’s Wheatley Stable colors, would have only one – Saarland in 2002. Wheatley Stable, owned by Mrs. Henry Carnegie Phipps, had attempted the Derby seven times from 1928 to 1967, but never even finished in the money, despite being represented by champions Bold Ruler, Bold Lad, and Successor.

The Phippses have always been known for their longevity in keeping trainers and not interfering in racing decisions, which is another aspect of the sport that has changed dramatically. McGaughey has been their trainer for 27 years through both prosperous and lean years. The old school operation goes beyond McGaughey and the well-bred horses right down to the help, most of whom have been with McGaughey for 25 to 30 years.

McGaughey and his main assistant, Buzzy Tenney, have known each other since elementary school and were in the Cub Scouts together in the same den. When McGaughey took over as trainer for the Phipps family in 1985 he asked his old friend, who had been working for trainer Steve Penrod in Aiken, S.C. to come work for him.

“Our stable is one of the last of its kind,” Tenney said. “Shug has maintained the excellence of the old school. He always takes time with the horses and has them spending a lot of time outside their stall. The Phippses and Stuart Janney are patient people and let you get through the lean times and give a horse the time he or she needs. The horses are sound and happy, and it’s pretty much a hay, oats, and water operation.”

In 1989, it looked as if the Phipps family and McGaughey had found the ultimate racehorse they had been seeking for so many years. If any horse was going to give them their first Kentucky Derby victory it was Easy Goer, a chestnut Adonis that appeared to have everything – pedigree, looks, speed, class, and stamina. Following his championship 2-year-old season, Easy Goer had jaws dropping at Aqueduct when he cantered home in the Gotham Stakes, winning by 13 lengths and missing Dr. Fager’s sacred world-record mile of 1:32 1/5 by a fifth of a second.

Easy Goer’s defeat in the Kentucky Derby to Sunday Silence was a bitter disappointment to McGaughey, who doubted he would ever bring a horse to the Derby with the God-given talent of the son of Alydar.

In 1997, Ogden Phipps and McGaughey looked to have another big shot at their first Derby with the late-running Accelerator, who had finished a fast-closing second behind Derby favorite Captain Bodgit in the Wood Memorial. But one week before the Derby, Accelerator pulled up lame during a workout at Churchill Downs, suffering a cannon bone fracture. It was another crushing blow and neither Ogden nor Dinny would be back until this year.

The Janneys have maintained that same philosophy of not running in the Derby unless they had a good chance and if it was in the best interest of the horse. In a move you would rarely, if ever, see today, Stuart Janney III and McGaughey teamed up in 1998 to win the Wood Memorial (gr. I) with Coronado’s Quest, who came within a fifth of a second of Private Terms’ record. But win or lose, the Derby was not under consideration, due to the colt’s immaturity and wild and crazy antics at Gulfstream Park that winter, which seemed to disappear once surgery was performed to free an entrapped epiglottis. By showing patience and giving him extra time, they were rewarded with victories in the Dwyer, Haskell, and Travers.

So, one could easily see why the Derby gods would be inclined to smile down on Janney, the Phippses, and McGaughey this year, just as they did with Frances Genter, Paul Mellon and Mack Miller, William T. Young, W. Cal Partee, Charlie Whittingham, Robert and Beverly Lewis, Jerry and Ann Moss, James Tafel, and other owners and trainers who had demonstrated the class and sportsmanship that have always exemplified the spirit of Thoroughbred racing.

As for Orb, he was broken and received his early training at Niall Brennan’s farm in Ocala, Fla. Among the other 2-year-olds there at the time were Revolutionary and Palace Malice, both of whom would also compete in the Kentucky Derby.

“Orb was always a nice big strong colt,” Brennan recalled. “The Malibu Moon colts tend to lack focus like teenagers who want to get in trouble. But Orb was very good for a Malibu Moon colt. He was playful, but he was forward enough, and being such a big strong colt, you knew he was only going to get better and better, especially in Shug’s program, where they get a chance to develop. He was a good mover, with a big stride and a good tough attitude.”

For most of the winter, the Derby trail was all about the powerhouse arsenals of Todd Pletcher in the East and Bob Baffert in the West. Baffert’s big horses kept falling off the trail until he was left with not a single round of ammunition by Derby Day. Pletcher, on the other hand, lost his two Derby favorites, Shanghai Bobby and Violence, but still managed to get five horses there – Wood Memorial (gr. I) and Tampa Bay Derby (gr. II) winner Verrazano, Louisiana Derby (gr. II) winner Revolutionary, Arkansas Derby (gr. I) winner Overanalyze, and Palace Malice and Charming Kitten, the two-three finishers of the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (gr. I).

Last year’s Derby-winning trainer Doug O’Neill was back with Santa Anita Derby (gr. I) winner Goldencents, and four-time Derby winner D. Wayne Lukas had stakes winners Oxbow and Will Take Charge. Other contenders included Wood Memorial runner-up Normandy Invasion, Blue Grass winner Java’s War, and Louisiana Derby runner-up Mylute.

When McGaughey shipped Orb to Churchill Downs, he loved what he saw right from the start. In his second morning there, the colt was feeling so good, McGaughey asked Patterson if he was playing or if there was something wrong with him, She assured him he was only playing. Each day he became more settled and his gallops got stronger.

“This horse is a bit of a throwback to more of an old-time horse,” McGaughey said outside his familiar Barn 43, where he always stables. “There’s nothing in his family that’s ever been a sales horse where they tried to make them bulky and speedy-looking in order to do well at the sales. I was amazed how this horse changed mentally and physically between the Fountain of Youth and Florida Derby.

“I’ve spent a lot of time at Churchill Downs right here in this barn. I’ve been in this barn before I had the Phipps horses. Where else would you want to be on Derby Week than right here. If we can get the next 10 days behind us I’ll think he’ll be a presence. He appreciates the colder weather coming from Florida, and this morning he was fresh and feeling good. When I went into the winter I never thought I’d be standing here now talking about Orb, but he gave us some pretty exciting days and has really come around quickly. I thought he’d be running at Aqueduct right now. After he broke his maiden there, I said, ‘His style won’t suit Gulfstream.’ But we got a pleasant surprise and here we are.”

McGaughey said that he was happy to see Janney and Phipps enjoying the ride, and looked forward to bring them their long-awaited Derby.

“Dinny and Stuart are very close and they’re having fun,” he said. “They’ve obviously been close working together at Bessemer (Trust), but I think this horse is one of the things that have brought them closer, because they’re enjoying him together. This was a merger with old Mr. Phipps and Stuart, and Stuart had a great affection for Mr. Phipps. They enjoy the game and they enjoy their horses, but they do a lot to try to help the game.”

The universal feeling around the backstretch was the rooting interest for McGaughey, who is one of the most respected trainers in the game, and whose methods are applauded by racetrackers everywhere.

“I’m rooting so hard for Shug,” said trainer David Carroll, who worked for McGaughey from 1985-90 and was the regular exercise rider of Easy Goer. “Shug was a tremendous influence on me. I came from Europe where the background is to be patient. My father and brother were jockeys and I worked for John Oxx for six years. In Ireland it’s all about patience and doing right by the horse, and that was they way Shug trained; the way he takes care of the horse and develops them. And look how long everybody’s been working for him; they’ve all been there forever. When you get to Shug’s barn it’s home. It would be fantastic for racing and breeding to have Shug win it for the Phippses and the Janneys. Everybody on the backside is rooting for him. I’m even nervous for him. I was having dinner last night and was saying I won’t relax until after the draw.”

But first there was the colt’s final work to get through. McGaughey still has vivid memories of Accelerator’s final work, in which he was pulled up on the turn, missing the Derby.

All Orb did in his work was increase McGaughey’s confidence level, breezing a half in company in :47 4/5 and doing it with smooth, effortless strides, pulling well clear of his workmate. McGaughey was thrilled.

“I know we’ve still got the draw, but I’m going in with the attitude that as of April 29, we’ve done everything we can do to make things happen right, and so far they have all happened right. My people have done an absolutely wonderful job of handling the situation and being as all-in as I am.”

As Dinny Phipps’ daughter, Daisy, said, “We haven’t taken this horse here, he’s taken us here. Having our two families own the horse together, it’s sort of the perfect package.”

Derby Week, however, always provides plenty of anxiety, and there was enough to go around for McGaughey and his wife Alison, as they sat at the post position draw and watched most of the desirable posts get taken, while posts 1, 2, and 3, where they did not want to wind up, were still open.

Finally came the pill pull for No. 16 followed by the name Orb. Allison broke out in a smile, while a relieved McGaughey just nodded his head in approval.

That was it; the final obstacle had been cleared. All that was left now was the waiting. Not even the ominous weather forecast seemed to dampen McGaughey’s spirits. It was time for the dream to become reality.

“I know come Thursday the nerves are going to set in, but we came here with the idea that we’re going to have fun with it,” McGaughey said. “Every year when we get a bunch of 2-year-olds, I’m hoping one of them will be the horse that gives us the opportunity to get here. All we want is the opportunity. I feel when race day comes, what will be will be. I know we’ve got to get the trip, but if it doesn’t go our way, hopefully we’ll get a chance again.”

Another set of events that had been playing out was on the jockey front, which saw Orb’s rider John Velazquez choose to ride Verrazano in the Derby. McGaughey understood that Velazquez had an allegiance to Pletcher, but he needed a rider, and that is where another important piece of the puzzle came together perfectly.

Rosario’s agent, Ron Anderson recalled, “When I first went over my list of horses I ride for Shug, I pointed out Orb and Shug said, ‘You know what, I don’t care to run him here again; I’m not sure he likes these turns at Gulfstream that much.’ He said there was an open allowance race at the end of the month that will probably be easier than the Fountain of Youth and that he’d probably consider that race or ship him out of town.”

Because McGaughey was so hesitant about running, he freed Anderson to get another mount for the Fountain of Youth, so he signed on to ride Speak Logistics. McGaughey then decided at the last minute to run in the Fountain of Youth, and the colt surprised him by winning impressively with Velazquez aboard, and then kept progressing, winning the Florida Derby. By losing the mount on Orb, Rosario was free to ride Animal Kingdom in the $10 million Dubai World Cup (UAE-I) the same day as the Florida Derby, which he won easily. When Velazquez jumped off Orb to ride Verrazano in the Kentucky Derby, Rosario was given the mount back. But instead of winning $1.4 million purses in the Fountain of Youth and Florida Derby, he won $10 million in purses in Dubai and wound up right back on Orb for the Kentucky Derby.

The projected rain on Derby Day came as expected, turning the track sloppy. In a surprise move, Palace Malice, equipped with blinkers, outran all the expected speed horses and opened a three-length lead, while setting blazing fractions of :22.57 and :45.33. Goldencents, Falling Sky, and Verrazano took up the chase, but in the end, the blistering pace would cook all four horses, who would retreat quickly to finish at the back of the pack.

Rosario, meanwhile, took Orb well off the pace and had only two horses beat down the backstretch, while trailing by nearly 20 lengths. Back there with him were Golden Soul, Revolutionary, and Mylute, all of whom would take advantage of the suicidal pace and finish strongly down the stretch.

As they continued down the backstretch, Oxbow made a strong run along the rail to move into second. Around the far turn after three-quarters in a gut-wrenching 1:09.30, Palace Malice began shortening stride after setting the fastest fractions in Derby history on a wet track. Verrazano and Falling Sky called it quits as Normandy Invasion, under Javier Castellano,  made a big move on the outside and surged to the front nearing the quarter pole in an attempt to run everyone off their feet and get the jump on the closers.

For a brief instant, it looked as if Normandy Invasion was home free until Orb came flying around horses without a straw in his path out near the middle of the track to reach contention. Golden Soul was on the move behind him, and Calvin Borel, as usual, was hugging the rail with Revolutionary, who was picking off horses as well, occasionally having to idle briefly waiting for an opening.

But down the stretch, it was obvious Normandy Invasion wasn’t sustaining his move and Orb was the strong horse, as he collared Normandy Invasion at the eighth pole and began to draw clear. Rosario had merely been hand-riding the colt, throwing a couple of crosses. But Orb has shown a tendency to start relaxing a little once he gets the lead, so Rosario roused him with a couple of left-handed whips. He was never in any danger of getting caught, but behind him there was a furious battle for second.

Golden Soul kept on relentlessly to get second, a length ahead of Revolutionary, who was a head in front of Normandy Invasion, who in turn finished head in front of a fast-closing Mylute. There was gap of six lengths back to sixth-place finisher Oxbow, who was the only horse in the first five early to finish in the first half of the field. The final time for the 1 1/4 miles was 2:02.89.

“I don’t even know where I’m at,” an emotional Alison McGaughey said. “It’s crazy. When we get home and sit down and realize what just happened I’m sure we’ll be bawling our eyes out. Right now I’m just so caught up in the moment I don’t know what to say. I just can’t wait to go back and see Orb; he’s waiting for his candy. For him to win for Stuart and Dinny together, you can’t make it up. On April 24, I celebrated my 50th birthday. Shug was already here and I was in Florida. I said, ‘Look, I’ll be 50 all year, if you win the Derby that’ll be my present.”

Stuart Dillender, who has worked on and off for McGaughey as foreman for 30 years, has been waiting for this moment a long time.

“I’ve wanted to win this for Shug for 30 years,” he said. “He deserves everything he’s gotten. This is very special, just because this is the one race that he hasn’t won and deserved to win. It’s a blessing. I’ll do anything for the man. There are no organizations like this around anymore. They’ve all been around and have gone away, but this one never has. We try to make it a team effort; you can’t win without a team. From Dinny to Daisy and Stuart, you can’t find a better family. They care about us and they care about the horses and they care about the breed.”

Back at the barn that night, McGaughey arrived and hugged Patterson, who has devoted so much of her time to Orb. “You’ll never know how much we appreciate all you’ve done for us.” said McGaughey, who paid tribute to all his help.

Kentucky Derby 139 will be remembered as the race in which the old timers rejoiced in the memory of how the sport used to be in simpler times, while the younger generation got a rare opportunity to enter a portal of time to witness something they may never see again.

Longtime veterinarian Mark Cheney, who has done work for McGaughey for 30 years and has been close to Orb all year, was flushed with pride and excitement, and there was only one remedy for that, and that was a good stiff drink with an old friend.

“This is the thrill of my life,” he said. “I’m about to have a heart attack. I know another fellow who’s up there watching this and having a big shot of bourbon right now and that’s Mr. Phipps. I think he made it happen. I wish I was up there with him because I’m about ready to die for a bourbon and water.”

Derby Weekend photos, all photos by Steve Haskin. Please do not take without asking.

Orb and Jen Patterson heading out for one of their final gallops.

Shug McGaughey checks out Orb one last time on Derby morning.

WWII Normandy veterans meet Normandy Invasion -- an unforgettable experience listening to their stories

Hal and Molly Harsh of Kansas City got married outside Itsmyluckyday's barn on Derby morning

Orb (left) and Revolutionary lead the walkover. They would finish 1.3.

Normandy Invasion in the post parade

Orb is ready for action.

Orb is taken to the back of the pack by Joel Rosario.

Alison McGaughey plants a kiss on Orb following the Derby.


Leave a Comment:


Palice Malice took 'em all for a wild goose chase....I wish I would have bet more on Orb,but the slop was a realistic concern. Congrats to Shug & company and to a great ride by Rosario. Preakness? Orb 7/5 Revolutionary 2/1...Prayin' for a Triple!

06 May 2013 9:30 PM
Old Timer

Wonderful article Steve. I recall watching some of those great 2 year olds that the Phipps had back in the 60's (Bold Lad & Successor among them). Every year it seemed like they had a horse who was destined to win the Derby, but then when the races got longer, they all seemed to not want the distance. It seemed like Bold Ruler was getting a reputation for siring sprinters... until a little horse named Secretariat came along!

Your paragraph on "Derby gods" and how it used to be just about got me misty eyed.

06 May 2013 9:47 PM
Dr Drunkinbum

I've been a big fan of Shug's for a long time and always root for him to get to The Derby. Sometimes I think he might have a candidate but then he doesn't even go for it which I admire while being disappointed. I'm always one for the horse and safety coming first so I understand. For some unexplainable reason despite understanding Orb's talent and ending up using him as one of my top two in The Derby I never became a huge fan of the horse but I still celebrated a great win by a great horse, a great trainer, great owners and a great jockey. It took him a little longer than we predicted but Rosario is now a great jockey. While we are on the subject of greatness- I want to thank the great Steve Haskin for another incredible Derby ride.

06 May 2013 10:08 PM
Paula Higgins

This was such a wonderful story all the way around Steve! I think everyone in and out of horse racing is so happy for Shug McGaughey, as well as the Phipps and Janneys. Orb may turn out to be something very special indeed. I am keeping my fingers crossed. He just flew down the stretch like the others were standing still. Normandy Invasion ran a really good race also, which made me happy for the World War II vets. It's great that someone in horse racing honored our World War II vets in that way. One last comment, I think the fact that Shug puts the horse first, puts his barn first and the owners put the horse first, says all that needs to be said. We need more of that in horse racing. I would be thrilled to see people like this win the Triple Crown. They so thoroughly deserve it.

06 May 2013 10:09 PM

Been waiting all day for this....! . The story as only Steve could tell it. I got choked up and teary eyed in some places..... Been a long time Shug fan and was hoping his dream would come true this year. Such a feel good story all around; great nuggets of info and backstories for all the connections...... Best of luck the rest of the way......please, please, please...let it happen for this deserving bunch!!! Thanks're the best!

06 May 2013 10:25 PM
Karen in Indiana

Thank you for the story and the photos.

The top photo of Orb's profile reminds me of a profile photo of Man O'War - same shape, same look. But I think Orb has a nicer personality, probably because he's treated nicer.

Best wishes for them all and now it's on to Pimlico!

06 May 2013 10:48 PM

Steve,thanks for your excellent coverage of the behind the scene's

activities.Just another of your masterful coverage.I recalled early this year Orb ran 3rd in a race at Aquduct which was ran in rather quick time and Shug mentioned it in a DRF article,so from then,Shug had a very good idea that Orb was on the improve.Based on that info, I bet Orb in his next race which he won.

Like most racing fans, I am very happy for Shug and his team.Lets keep our fingers crossed that Orb will keep going. By the way your Oxbow ran better than I though,so perhaps he will get better and win some big races later on this season.

06 May 2013 10:58 PM

Great reporting as always, Steve.  I love that we're seeing a throwback to the old days on the 40th anniversary of Secretariat's TC and the 70th anniversary of Count Fleet's.  I know it's still a bit early, but I'm pulling as hard for Orb to get the Triple Crown as I did Smarty Jones and Smarty has been my favorite contender since I started following the game back in 2001.  Go Orb!

06 May 2013 10:59 PM

I hate to say it for fear of possibly jinxing it, but I think this is the year that horseracing will really go back to its glory days.  

There's an energy, an aura if you will, around Orb.  I feel it, this is the year of our Triple Crown hero.

And if the horseracing deities see fit to bestow a crown upon Orb's regal head, a famous filly, with her nose pointed toward the finish line, will greet Orb as he races to his destiny.

The stars are so aligned this year.  From Orb's name to Ruffian at the finish line, how fitting would it be for the Phipps and Janneys to realize something that hasn't been done in a long, long, long time?

Horseracing needs a Triple Crown winner.

06 May 2013 11:18 PM

thank you for this mr. haskin--that was lovely =)

in case anyone is curious--here are orb's ky derby splits according to trakus:

23.74, 47.66, 1:11.64, 1:36.78, 2:02.66 (his first four fractions aren't toot shabby for a fella as far back as he was for the first 6 furlongs).

also according to trakus, orb's wide trip in the derby was longer than all, but two other's in the race.

Orb ran 6,721 feet (80 more feet than golden soul, 84 more feet than revolutionary, and 40 more feet than normandy invasion). only frac daddy (by 12 feet) and vyjack (by 18 feet) ran farther last saturday.

congrats to all on team shug, the phipps, the janneys, claiborne farm, malbu moon, and last but not least, to orb =)

06 May 2013 11:39 PM

Thank You for this! I am so thrilled for those who love and take care of The Mighty ORB! I will never look at a full moon the same way again! Godspeed to Orb, and may we all survive the next 12 days! I am hoping some of the other game runners of the Derby have the guts to face him in the Preakness; frustrated by these runners that skip the P to show up fresh for the Belmont. Argghh!!!

06 May 2013 11:45 PM

Really enjoyed this piece, Steve.  I think the only thing I expected to see was a reference to the coin toss between Mrs. Tweedy and Ogden Phipps, in which he won the toss, but she got the horse! There is so much history to this whole story! It really is heartwarming and gratifying to see the class and quality of the connections and to see their patience rewarded. There was nothing except positive comments everywhere.  What a joy and how refreshing!  Maybe this will be the year and this will be the horse to end the TC drought. What fun to dream about and contemplate.  

06 May 2013 11:58 PM

Okay Steve. The article alone had me tearing up and then you had to put pictures that turned me into a blubbering idiot. As soon as I saw the Veterans with NI that was it... the floodgates opened. That really got me. The couple getting married in front of IMLD (so appropriate) was very sweet. I was married on Derby day in 1980. We went to the church after Genuine Risk won. It is a lucky day to be married. The rest of the photos are awesome. Thank you for being so insightful and talented. YOU ALWAYS MAKE ME CRY. And I always feel better afterward.

07 May 2013 12:12 AM

What a great wrap-up, Steve.  You brought it all together.  "You can't make this stuff up", may be a well-worn cliche, but it fits perfectly here.  I hope every casual sport fan is able to read this.  They will see a beautifully painted picture of the foundations of this sport and what it takes to get a horse to the Kentucky Derby.

I have to say, Steve, how blessed you are.  To be with the future Derby winner pre-dawn on Derby Day, the only one who went to the track that morning, had to be a special moment.

Thanks for all your hard work on the Derby Trail, Steve.  Thanks for this wrap-up and thanks for these pics, the icing on the cake.    

Looking forward to your thoughts on the Preakness:    Claiborne/Dilschneider vs.Janney/Phipps?

07 May 2013 12:13 AM
Mike Monarchos

A great story about a great horse and organization! Hopefully Orb will continue on to be our first Triple Crown winner since Affirmed in 1978. That would be great! Orb and Joel Rosario both are white hot right now! I hope it continues. Keep your great articles and photos coming Steve. I really look forward to them.

07 May 2013 12:29 AM
Mister Frisky

Steve thanks for four months of the Derby Dozn.The interview you and Lenny did with Wayne Lukas last week was great.Like everyone I thought I had the exotics surrounded,keying Orb with several underneath.I could handicap till next years Derby and still not have had Golden Soul in the 2 position,thats why the call it gambling.Your above article really states how loaded Shug and the Phipps were in the Late 80's with top colts.Seeking the Gold,Awe Inspiring,The Goer, even 2 yr old champion of 89 Rythym.With Orb and Point of Entry probably entering stud in 2014,they seem to be set up for another run.P.S.Steve correct me if I'm wrong.Everyone saying Golden Soul was bred to run all day.and he was,all day on TURF.Sadlers Wells on top Silver Hawk on the bottom,tons of stamina just not for the dirt.Cant wait for Baltimore.

07 May 2013 12:32 AM


Bravo. It takes someone who knows and understands the history of these two families (Stuart Janney III and Dinny Phipps are first cousins) and what they have meant to Thoroughbred racing. By the way, while Orb's female family is generally thought to be all Janney because of Ruffian, Coronado's Quest and Private Terms, Ruffian's dam, Shenanigans, was out of Bold Irish -- who was bred by the Phippses way back when. So, it truly is a combined effort. The Phippses had so many near misses -- before and with Shug. Of course, it all started with Bold Ruler (owned by Wheatley Stable -- which was Ogden Phipps' mother, Mrs. Henry Carnegie Phipps) when he was fourth in the 1957 Derby. Bold Ruler's fourth in the 1957 Derby with Hall of Fame trainer Sunny Jim Fitzsimmons. Wheatley's 2-y-o champion Bold Lad was brilliant but fragile and finished 10th in the 1965 Derby with calcium deposits (he was the favored part of an entry with Ogden Phipps' Dapper Dan, who missed winning by a neck). The following year, their champion, Buckpasser had to skip the Triple Crown because of a quarter crack and was deputized by stablemate, Stupendous, who finished fourth and who then was second in the Preakness. Wheatley's champion 2-y-o, Successor, a full brother to Bold Lad, was a disappointing 6th in 1967. Ogden Phipps' Reviewer (of course, sire of Ruffian) was very special but incurred an injury in the Wood Memorial forcing him to miss the Triple Crown in 1969. And the most bitter result in 1989 when Easy Goer was second over a muddy surface he despised behind Sunday Silence, who was severely underrated at the time.

So, as you know this history better than most contemporary columnists, this was such a sweet and gratifying Kentucky Derby, and your take on it really hit all the right notes. Just call me an appreciative reader!

07 May 2013 12:48 AM

Mr. Haskin, fantastic article on a truly great win for the great old school(McGaughey, Phipps, Janney) tradition of this sport. What do you think about Shug's poignant quote, "A day like today, on a muddy track like today probably cost me one Kentucky Derby(with Hall of Fame champion Easy Goer, whom you have stated yourself, "had problematic, puffy ankles & just floundered & spun his wheels on that specific type of mud at Churchill) & maybe it turned around and helped us today." Great quote by Shug.

07 May 2013 1:13 AM
joseph alva

Congratulations, Steve, on a superb article!  It's not just the Janneys, Phipps', and McGaughey who do what nobody else dares doing anymore in racing --you too belong in that company with your writing!  Unfortunately, not too many write about this game anymore with the class and passion you do.

As for Orb, what can I say?  I was there at Churchill and was fortunate enough to witness it in person -- a very impressive victory and a very moving one for me.  I picked him to win the Derby in early February before he won the Fountain of Youth after hearing about him and watching replays of his two-year old races.  His class and desire to reach out for more distance truly impressed me all along.  He will always hold a special place in my heart for proving my faith in him right and for spearheading a winning Derby Superfecta ticket for me that gave me a hefty $28,542 payoff!  I am a blessed man for this is my second Derby Superfecta winner in the last 8 years (my last one came in 2006 with Barbaro leading the way).  I lost the 2007 Superfecta at the wire when I'mawildandcrazyguy put a head in front of Sedgefield for fourth as they ran behind Street Sense, Hard Spun and Curlin.  

Those payoffs are hard to find, but unbelievably sweet when their time comes!  It's the same with the connections you just wrote about.        

07 May 2013 1:20 AM

I've been checking the website all day, waiting for your words to describe what I couldn't see for the rain and my tears of happiness.  Those words were worth the wait.  Thanks, Steve.

07 May 2013 1:53 AM

Steve, eloquently written with beautiful photographs to enhance the mood, time, and satisfaction of the connections. It's the most enjoyable Derby since Swale's triumph.

I thought Normandy Invasion was gallant in defeat, if the jockey had waited a tad, he probably would have been closer but not winning. Orb looks the part and like everyone else, you don't want to mention the obvious in case of jinxing him. What a day to remember at the races!!

07 May 2013 2:04 AM
Steve Haskin

Thanks, everyone. Yetive, good to hear from you, my friend. Why did I have a feeling you would love this result? LOL

Yes, this one does look like it could be the one. Perhaps this is why the racing gods knocked I'll Have Another out of the Belmont last year, in which he looked like a lock. They knew the perfect Triple Crown winner wasn't due until this year.

But the Preakness will not be a soft spot by any means, with the additions on Departing and perhaps Govenor Charlie. and watch what happened to Will Take Charge in the Derby as he was moving with Orb. No doubt he would have been right there.

07 May 2013 7:22 AM

Several years ago I received a wonderful T-shirt with Talking Horses on it & Sirius Radio.  I have worn it out as it was a favorite.  Any idea where I can get another one?  Or any Talking Horses T-shirt?  Thanks.  

07 May 2013 7:56 AM

Steve, you just make me want to forget the rest of the world and read your columns all day. ;-)

Thanks to you, too, for writing in kind with the traditions described above.

07 May 2013 8:39 AM
Tiz Herself

Thanks as always Steve - what a great Derby. Congrats to Shug and his connections. Hope everyone came out of the race good -

Neat article about Orb and A.P. Indy (who was the grandsire of the Oaks and Derby winner)

Love how Secretariat is present in the top three in the Derby as well.

Welcome back again Wise Dan - can't wait to see more.

Palace Malice was trying to be this year's Bodemeister or Hard Spun I think only he got too far away with it.

07 May 2013 8:44 AM
Tiz Herself

Will be interesting to see if any fillies compete in the Preakness or Belmont. Did read Dreaming of Julia is likely for the Belmont... poor girl got sandwiched in the Oaks, but take nothing away from Princess of Sylmar.

07 May 2013 8:45 AM

Great race, great history.

Orb was my horse all along,when the rains came it raised a bit of concern.

As soon as they broke and Orb dropped back and got a nice little cushion spot I new he had a chance.

As they started to turn for home I watched him pick of horses one by one I new he had a chance.

As they stormed down the stretch and saw Orb still moving on his own, my excitement rose even further,I new he had a chance.

As he passed Normandy Invasion the smile that you only get once a year from picking the winner started to come across my face.

To all the connections of "ORB" congratulations on a job well done.

As I watched the interview with Shug after the race all that came to mind was this is what Old School respect is all about.

As he crossed the finish line,high fives started and the celebration began.

5th largest Exacta in Derby history.

May. 4, 2013 05:38 PM DC9483D37176 Online Gaming Churchill Downs 11 $4.00 EX 16 / 2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11,12,13,14,15,16,17,18,19,20 $72.00 $1,963.20

Thanks to all of you who I continue to learn from.

Steve Thank you the most Only 362 days until next years Derby..

07 May 2013 8:51 AM

Interesting that when talking about the Phipps's near misses there's one that gets overlooked.  In 2006 Mr. Phipps bred his mare Supercharger to Maria's Mon, then consigned her to the Keeneland November sale where she was purchased by WinStar.  The resulting foal was Super Saver!

Another point, given how these families breed mostly to Claiborne farm stallions.  It will be interesting to hear why Mr. Janney chose Malibu Moon rather than Pulpit or Flatter, since all three are A.P. Indy X Mr. Prospector cross stallions.  Hopefully there will be something in the print issue!

07 May 2013 10:03 AM
Bill Two

One of the things I like about Orb is his tractability.  It seems as if you can place this horse just about anywhere and he'll come running when asked. He looks awfully salty in the Preakness - assuming he came out of the Derby no worse for wear.  Kudos to all the connections as they truly are the bedrock of thoroughbred racing and serve as exemplars of the the way this sport used to be conducted and still should be conducted.  Loved hearing Mr. Janney say that the horse took them to Kentucky and not the other way around.  

07 May 2013 10:12 AM

It was a wonderful Derby with everyone coming home safe, a beautiful stallion winning and best of all, a trainer we didn't have to be ashamed of but only to be proud.  Can't wait for the Preakness.

07 May 2013 10:43 AM

Beautiful.  This is the detailed wrap-up of the Derby from your perspective that I've been waiting for and you have done such a wonderful job of pulling it all together so the story is lyrical and uplifting at the same time, plus also filled with background facts.  It is so cool how you pull all of that together and this article is so over the top - just wow.  The photos are also incredible and I think my favorite has to be Shug's wife giving Orb a kiss on the nose.  So sweet. Thank you so much for sharing with us.

07 May 2013 11:05 AM

I am so thrilled.  I just felt this was THE horse to do it.

Orb sort of reminds me of the great Citation, who "could pass any horse he saw ahead of him, but once he took the lead, no one could catch him."

2 more's to hoping and praying that my bucket list gets completed. (well maybe I'll not squeeze in the hang gliding...ehh!)

Congratulations to all the connections; they are all so very deserving.  I'm hoping that they and we finally hit the jackpot after a 35 year drought.

07 May 2013 11:07 AM
steve from st louis

Steve, We've discussed Dr. Steven Roman's chef-de-race study regarding five-cross generational input for thoroughbreds for this race on the first Saturday in May at 10 furlongs and if I weren't so stubborn, I would have just followed the damn thing as it screamed out and indicated the $6,000-plus trifecta stone cold last Saturday.

Orb had the highest value, with representation of 11-12-15-0-2 (40) followed by Golden Soul at 11-5-18-4-0 (38) and Revolutionary 10-8-12-1-1 (32). All three had their highest value representation in the classic (middle) category, indicating the perfect mix of speed and stamina. I tried to handicap the horses and threw the Perfect Soul runner out of my top  three even though that sire had an incredible 11-8-26-9-0 (54) Roman numeral himself. Malibu Moon, by the way, provided a classical 13-13-23-1-0 (50) chef-de-race representation on his own.

I think next year, I won't try to be so cute.

07 May 2013 11:13 AM
Melissa P

Fantastic post - as usual - Steve. I've sent a link to this to many of my new racing "converts." This year's Derby has done wonders already for racing.

I'm thrilled that Shug got his Derby. He's a very fine man who helped me out years ago when I was trying to help bring racing to Georgia. He's a most deserving gentleman.

A genuinely feel-good story for racing - FINALLY!

07 May 2013 11:45 AM

Thank you for another wonderful account of all the important people on the backside that are involved with the Janneys, Phipps, and Shug.  So very well deserved.  And of all they friends that they had rooting for them too. I had forgotten that Dapper Dan's human connections.  Here is hoping that Orb keeps moving forward and wins the next race.  And if he can get the the third one well I may be in Orb-it indefinetly

07 May 2013 11:52 AM
Mister Frisky

Hey Shug,The fans are happy for your win and good luck going forward.You gotta give this Easy Goer thing a rest.Sunday Silence beat him on the square 3 of 4,all neutral tracks.Sunday Silence is still clowning him in the big pasture in the sky.Us peasants are finding it hard enough to pull for Plutocrat owners who are living off the wealth created over 100 years ago by Henry Phipps.Be humble and drop the east coast superiority speak.

07 May 2013 11:58 AM
El Kabong


Well done. Just when the winners of the 139th Derby think all the accolades have been bestowed, you show up with something like this that will surely be framed in a case of memorabilia for all concerned. Orb is a very good horse and looks very well positioned to get the next jewel. I did review WTC's effort and you are very correct. Looks like Verrazano set a pick for Orb that halted WTC's charge along side Orb. Very nice catch. I must have watched that race 15 times and didn't see that. When you look at it from the Blimp overhead view it is dramatic. Verrazano is falling back and then moves out a lane just as WTC and Orb were about to fly past on the outside. Verrazano came right back into WTC's lane forcing him to slam on the breaks and ending his race. Too bad. That would have been a thrilling finish.

07 May 2013 12:08 PM

Great article, Steve (as ALWAYS!). I always get teary-eyed when you write about this stuff! One of the best things about Orb winning is the connections. It makes the game so much more fun when the connections of the horse are so likable. I will be rooting Orb all the way through the Triple Crown. And, no matter what happens there, I will continue to root for him. Great pictures too. Love that last one of Allison McGaughey kissing Orb on the nose.

07 May 2013 12:26 PM

Steve from St.Louis.

Could you go into more detail ragarding the  Dr. Steven Roman's chef-de-race study.

Or email me




I am also looking for some tutoring in the thoro-graph sheets.

Thanks again

07 May 2013 12:46 PM

Steve, thank you for another great Derby season, the details, analysis, history, etc!!!  Thank you for the great pics, as well.  

I recorded the Derby as I was tied up as it was happening.  I decided to watch it first time around in slow motion.  I absolutely loved it!  I knew Orb was making his move around the second turn & then I noticed another horse was going right with him, WTC, and it was thrilling to see.  Had Revolutionary been free and clear along the rail, it could've been a thrilling finish to the wire.

So disappointed to see Dreaming of Julia get mugged at the start!  

07 May 2013 1:43 PM

The right horse and right connections won. How wonderful to see real horsemen being successful in the Derby. And thanks, Steve, to your historical reference regarding Dr. Fager, Damascus, and Buckpasser. Those were the days.

07 May 2013 1:49 PM

Wonderful for Orb and his connections - wish that Golden Soul would get a little more attention and respect.

07 May 2013 2:15 PM
Plod Boy Phil

Dr D / Predict -

Have either of you seen Midnight Lucky ?  You remember her, the best 3yr filly or colt in the land ?

07 May 2013 3:11 PM
Plod Boy Phil

Papillon -

Thanks for the raw times. The most notable thing for handicappers is the fact that each quarter Orb ran was slower than the previous one. He's a very nice horse, but the fact remains, with the exception of Normandy Invasion, the top five finishers were all beneficiaries of the fast early / slow late race shape.  

Good luck to all in Baltimore.

07 May 2013 3:40 PM

Steve, can you email me the dosage index and figures with how they work. I used to watch dosage index below 4, but it seems to change.

I like you, love the mud. Your top choice was 5th I think.So, a wager with 5 numbers was OK.

I watched your comments in the last 3 days, and I liked Borel in slop on fence. He stuck to the boards once again and didn't get beat by much.

I like you better than other writers. (Guess who that would be!!!!)

07 May 2013 3:53 PM
steve from st louis

Not to get so esoteric, dosage, is a technique for classifying thoroughbred pedigrees by "type" and it originated in the early part of the 20th century from the research of Frenchman J.J. Vuillier. Many years later, Italian Dr. Franco Varola developed a modified version of dosage that retained the principle that thoroughbred evolution proceeds through the influence of a very small number of the stallions at stud in any era. Those characteristics transmitted by his chefs-de-race were not necessarily those they possessed as runners, but those qualities they passed on as breeding animals.

Dr. Steven Roman, PhD. followed the work of my co-worker, the late Leon Rassmussen's Bloodlines column in the Daily Racing Form prior to the 1981 Derby. Rasmussen assigned point totals to each of five apitudinal groups (from left-to-right), Brilliant, Intermediate, Classic, Solid and Professional, covering the spectrum of speed to endurance. If a horse had chef-de-race representation of 1-1-0-0-0, his breeding would indicate a pedigree tipped solely toward speed, while one of 1-1-1-1-1 would indicate a horse bred with a pedigree perfectly balanced between brillance and stamina. Elie throughbreds would have a higher point total than do typical stakes winners to the extent that more chefs-de-race in a pedigree correlate with superior breeding stock.

Dr. Roman was able to quantify those numbers by creating  the Dosage Index (DI) and Center of Distribution (CD).

07 May 2013 4:00 PM
Bill Two

I know everyone wants a Triple Crown winner, but know this: Mr. Janney is no fan of the Triple Crown.  Unless this horse is 100 percent he will not compete in the rest of the races.  It amazes me he even allowed the horse to be in the Derby.  I have to agree with him about the Triple Crown.  It's too early in most horses' careers to place a thoroughbred in such demanding situation.  Horses don't mature fully until they are at least 5 years old.  To ask these young horses to take on such demanding challenges before their bones have fully grown is asking for trouble.  As the connections of the horse have said, it takes a very special horse to stand up to the rigors of the Triple Crown and to win one or more of those races is quite remarkable.

07 May 2013 4:08 PM
Soldier Course

This article and photos have done justice to Orb and his connections, and that couldn't have been an easy task. Thank you, Steve.

Orb is shedding his celestial light on something

that's been in front of us all along.  It's not the Thoroughbred breed that's weakening, but the human connections to that breed.

General Douglas MacArthur once said that the human character must synchronize with the matchless advances in all our endeavors, or all is lost. One only has to listen to Shug McGaughey talk about his learning curves as a trainer to understand how MacArthur's words apply to the Sport of Kings.

Shug says he's "all in". Yes indeed.

07 May 2013 4:14 PM
Fran Loszynski

Normandy Invasion honored the veterans watching him. As they stormed the beaches so did Normandy on the final turn his courage and heart deserved our salute! Javier did exactly the job he had to do and Normandy Invasion gave me a Derby I will not forget. I yelled and screamed and cried for this son of Tap it and for A fleet Alex's home Gainesway.  A salute to  Shug and Orb. May the families of horseracing always reign when times surround us.

07 May 2013 4:29 PM

Lance S,

Not only does Super Saver has a direct link to the Phippses (they bred his dam, Supercharger -- a full sister to Accelerator, Daydreaming and Girolamo), but take a look at Bluegrass Cat, second to Barbaro in the Derby. He is by Storm Cat out of the unraced She's a Winner -- yet another full sister to Supercharger and the rest of the full siblings named above. The Phipps influence on American bloodlines permeates so much more than people realize. They epitomize the best there is about this great sport.

07 May 2013 5:38 PM

Orb did it, the rest didnt, as for my bets the 4 beat me out of the exacta as probably he did to other exotic bettors.I think its 1st or 2nd for him in 2 weeks,but we will see what else runs against him and his subsequent win and place odds.

07 May 2013 5:51 PM
Plod Boy Phil

Paillon -

I have to ask.  How do you come up with those split times for Orb ?  

07 May 2013 6:36 PM

I too think Orb has a "Man O' War profile" as I commented earlier, but dear Karen in Indiana, I've always had the impression that Man O' War was treated like an equine god, admired and loved by the entire nation. You can see the affection in Will Harbut's eyes for the horse he cared for. Riddle turned down a mega fortune of a million dollars for Big Red. Surely you don't believe the great horse was mistreated? By saying that Orb is probably "nicer" because he is treated "nicer", well you must know something I don't. I'm interested. What promted you to say that? I'm not picking on you, just curious. I hope Orb is treatd well, I hope they are all treated well, from claimers to champions. Man O' War didn't have to be "nice", he was everything else, and then some.

07 May 2013 7:45 PM

Beautiful article Steve.  Congratulations to Orb and all his connections, especially Shug McGaughey.  Orb was in my top 3 and I really started to like him after he arrived at Churchill.  He became the "face" of Churchill Downs in quite a short time, he even "sang" a country song there.  He seems to have that dangerous tactical speed, he could hold back during Palace Malice's ridiculous blazing pace and charge ahead, in peanut butter no less, to the win.  I heard the track was more than slop, it was sticky and gooey.  It accounts for the poor performances for many like Lucky and Goldencents.  Palace Malice's half was faster than Barbaro's I believe.  Imagine the Todd Squad getting lectured after this race!  General Pletcher cannot be too pleased with them, except Revolutionary who came in a very respectable third.  

I think had it been a dry track the outcomes would have been different.  I think Orb still would have gotten up for the win, but I think the order of finish would have changed.  Why do they run major stakes races in rain and slop?  Why can't it be postponed to the next day?  if they give them all Lasix to "level the playing field" then level the field as well on a dry track as most of them don't relish slop.  Is it a true picture of this crop? They were all exhausted from lifting their hooves up in that sticky mess.  I know it would inconvenience the humans to return the next day but when weather is like that is it fair to the horses to force them to run in it?

Anyway Orb seems to be special.  Lines of Battle did better than Lucky did!  And so did Oxbow, he has grit.  Lucky and Verrazano looked like completely different runners than they are.

I don't want to start talking Triple Crown now but I can see headlines that read, "Orb Comes Full Circle In Belmont."

On to the Preakness...............

07 May 2013 7:55 PM
Dr Drunkinbum

Itsmyluckyday will be tough in The Preakness although we still don't know if he is 10f. Third off the layoff which is maybe what he should have been for The Derby, although the race is a complete toss for him and a few others. Certainly am expecting a very competitive Preakness from him. Isn't Revolutionary the horse to beat in the Belmont? I hope he gets into the race sooner. I don't think he's a true closer, more of a mid pack or even presser type despite what has happened in some of his races, and he will battle for the win once he gets the lead no matter how much of the race is left. Get him near the lead sooner.

07 May 2013 8:10 PM

General Pletcher must really be upset with his troops, he's already putting fillies in the Belmont!!!

Steve, don't know where to post this so I'll put it here.  How terrible about Nehro.  I felt sick when I read about Nehro's untimely death.  Please convey sincere condolences to Mr. Zayat.  Nehro was his favorite and he must be devastated.  How did Nehro get so sick so fast and was it on Derby day?  He couldn't have been more than 5 years old.  Mr. Zayat was spared Paynter but lost his Nehro.  It's so sad.  RIP Nehro.

07 May 2013 8:33 PM

I saw what happened to Will Take Charge, so sad.  It looked like Revolutionary had to bide his time on the rail.  Orb just had a really good trip in the slop, with a very fast early pace.  That won't happen in the Preakness.  I really like WTC and Govenor Charlie, if he goes to the Preakness.  I like Orb, but TC, I don't think so.

07 May 2013 8:52 PM

So did Palace Malice lose his mind, or was it the trainer's intention to send him out like a rabbit as fast as possible?

07 May 2013 8:58 PM
Karen in Indiana

ksweatman9, I didn't mean his time after Man O'War was retired - he and Will Harbut clearly adored each other. But Orb has people who dote on him and love and pet on him. Man O'War was high strung and I've read that during his 3 yr. old campaign, people had to be careful around him because he'd bite.

07 May 2013 10:31 PM

Mary; I really think it's time you give credit where credit is due.  I know Orb's pedigree isn't what you deem effective at 10 furlongs or longer, but he was much the best on Derby day. My goodness, he had a wide trip the whole way, a clean trip, yes, but "a really good trip" ?, no.  I heard he ran 80-some feet further than the second and third place colts, both of which had relatively clean rail trips.

Frankly, I'm not worried about the Belmont; it's his home track after all and there is absolutely nothing in his pedigree, or the way he has finished his races, that screams distance limitations to me.  However, I am concerned about the Preakness, because that race has always favored horses who are on or near the pace.  I fear that Orb's running style of coming from well out of it could trip him up at Pimlico.  For my money, if he does capture the second jewel, we might indeed have a TC champion.

07 May 2013 10:38 PM
Mike Relva


Give me a break,don't blame Orb's connections as a result of you having a bad day at the track.

07 May 2013 10:57 PM
Paula Higgins

ksweatman9, you are right, Man O'War was treated like a god pretty much all his racing life. Willie Harbut, his groom, adored him. Playfriskyforme, some of us "peasants" are very happy for the Phipps and Janneys. I don't resent them for having inherited wealth at all. It would seem that they have used some of it to take exceptional care of their horses. They have showed unwavering loyalty to their trainer of many years. All admirable traits deserving of respect.

07 May 2013 11:19 PM

Great story as usual Steve.  I am so happy for all of the connections of Orb.  It is a well deserved victory for all on the team.  At least we can be sure this Kentucky Derby winner won't be sold to Japan.

I was lucky enmough to see Personal Ensign win her last race and see Easy Goer as a 2year old ( what a handsome stud) I felt he would be unbeatable in the Derby!

Keep our fingers crossed that the racing gods continue to shine on Orb, he would be a fitting Triple Crown winner!

08 May 2013 12:04 AM
The Deacon

Congrats to the connections, especially happy for the Phipps family. They are such a hallowed name in horse racing lore. Ogden Phipps owned and bred Reviewer sire of the greatest filly (in my opinion)to ever race, Ruffian.

He had other standouts including Buckpasser. If not for an injury he certainly should have won the Derby. Would have been a great race, especially if Graustark had run. His champion mare Personal Ensign retired undefeated narrowly edging Winning Colors in the Ladies Distaff BC. Loved Eddie Neloy, what a pair they made. Shug came along in the 80's. He certainly he is a gentleman and quite a horseman. He deserves a Derby win. I believe they also had Secretariats dam Something Royal, those were the glory days of racing.

Orb had such a good trip, Palice Malice's eye popping fractions certainly aided and abetted the outcome. Calvin Borel's rail ride with Revolutionary wasn't a thing of beauty. I am sure lots of mud was hitting him the face. Mylute at the 8th pole looked like he might win but ran out of gas. Obviously not a 10 furlong horse.

Orb in my mind should win the Preakness, assuming he is healthy and gets a good trip. The Belmont Stakes may be different. Revolutionary might be the one there. Don't see too many 12 furlong horses out there but who knows. Maybe this is the year Dr. D: we get our Triple Crown winner. You've been hoping for this a long time. More horses were backing up in the Derby then closing.

Great article Steve, thanks for all you do.

08 May 2013 3:45 AM
Love 'em all

First, congratulations to Orb and to Joel ... and to all of Orb's connections.  It was a fun and very exciting race!

Just my opinion, of course, Palace Malice didn't lose his mind, his jockey did!  Even if MS had instructions to use PM as a rabbit, for obvious reasons, he knew better!  I was disgusted to see that horse run like he did ... he might as well have had a monkey on his back!  There, I said it and I'm not sorry I did.

Looking forward to the Preakness.  Hope all the horses and jockeys are feeling fine and dandy.

08 May 2013 9:16 AM
Mike Relva


Getting the distance wil be the least of Orb's problems.

08 May 2013 10:37 AM
Dr Drunkinbum

The Deacon, Mary

   The Derby surface suited Orb and Revolutionary more than any others. Orb had a good trip, some did not. The surface totally annihilated the chances of some of them. Orb is very good and capable of winning the Triple Crown but I still think his chances are slim. There are numerous horses that could win either of the next two legs. Orb does have the best jockey, an excellent trainer and owners. He also is on a tremendous win streak. I wish him well, tough task ahead but he is a talented and tough cookie. I also believe Shug when he says we haven't reached the bottom of Orb yet so the possibility of a Triple Crown is there. I believe it is tougher nowadays to win the TC compared to the 70's and prior. Good luck Orb.

08 May 2013 10:46 AM

Karen in Indiana, I think Man O'War had a wild streak in him until the day he died, probably why he ran so fast. It was his great escape, just my thoughts. Also, when a horse lives to be 30 and he don't bite you when you pester him, he is more than likely sick. I think Orb is a sweet heart, he looks like a "Zenyatta type", and I hope he lives to be an ornery old age like the great Man O'War.

08 May 2013 11:35 AM

What a great and comprehensive story, Steve, thank you for sharing your deep well of knowledge.  Great read!

08 May 2013 11:51 AM

Thanks for a fabulous article, Steve Haskin, you really hit it out of the park.

On the 40th anniversary of Secretariat's record breaking Kentucky Derby, to have the family and farm that bred his sire (Bold Ruler) win the Derby is something else. It doesn't get more classy than Shugg McGhaughy and his stable, the Phipps and Janney families and Claiborne Farm.

Has anyone interviewed Penny Chennery or Ron Turcotte about Orb? He's a real classic thoroughbred that is a throwback to the greats of yesteryear.

As both Mr. Phipps and Mr. Janney oppose race day medications, will their horse going forward help change the use of lasix in racing?

I'll bet that more owners and horsemen will be on board with the decision to only give lasix to horses three or older. That could be an important start to change how things are done in racing.

08 May 2013 11:58 AM
El Kabong

Love em all

Too funny. PM did look like he was the sacrificial lamb on Saturday. Hey congrats on your picks. I believe you had Orb and Golden Soul in your last post before the race. I think you and Josh called Golden Soul Out before the race. I used him in 3 and 4th in my fruitless supers. Thanks for the laugh and glad you said it. It was funny.

08 May 2013 12:00 PM
Mister Frisky

Mike and Paula I respect your different opinions.Mike, I don't have any bad days, at the track or anywhere else.I always have liked Shug and the Phipps horses.Im just saying this isn't as embraceable as Funny Cide and the Sakatoga Crew.I flew to NY from LA to be in the rain all day to see Funny Cide in the Belmont.Assuming Orb is going for the TC I might go see him as well,I don't know.Finally,Shug hasn't exactly been slumming the last 25 years with all these Phipps home breds.He just had to wait longer than his contemporaries to get his Derby.There are some trade offs to being a private trainer.Nice consistent base salary plus 10%,in exchange for waiting out the down years when your former great race mares don't drop runners.That is all.

08 May 2013 12:05 PM

Green Girl: Mike Smith said Palace Malice got spooked at the start of the race, and ran off with Mike.  Rather than fighting the horse to rein him in, Smith decided to allow the horse his lead.

There was nothing planned about that burst of speed.  They actually were going to try and get PM to relax during the race.

08 May 2013 12:50 PM
Love 'em all

El Kabong

Thanks.  I just pick the ones I like ... and I've never been good with numbers.  Betting is illegal in my state, which is okay since there's not a gambling bone in my body.

Orb was always my fav of the top tier .... and Golden Soul was a 'luck of the Irish' pick ... thanks to his sire ... and his good looks (being the baby helped, too).  Wish Oxbow could've hit the board .... I really like that fella.  He's a little Jackson Bend if there ever was one ... all heart.

Good luck with your Preakness picks.

08 May 2013 2:17 PM
Mike Relva


"Plutocrat owners" They deserved the win. So you don't ever have a bad day at the track? You're the first. As for Shug,no one handed him anything. Not like he had five horses entered Saturday. lol

As for Funny Cide,saw him Sunday.

08 May 2013 2:21 PM

Thank you Steve Haskins, your insightful article about Orb & his "family" was a wonderful read. I'm curious also (TerriZ) if anyone or you has contacted "Secretariat's" family. Now that would be "A Rose~Around" story considering the past history of the "Big Three Families."

On a side note your title for this article was fitting,

"Derby Launched Into Orb-it!" and for a take away to "Preakness, Second Launch for Orb~it" or from the by line of NASA in Houston, TX,

"Orb, Failure Is Not An Option •' '~~*!"

08 May 2013 4:15 PM

Happy for all the connections of Orb!  Hard to believe none of them have won before...  Orb sure seems like a sweetheart from the pictures you have posted Steve - looks like he his closing his eyes while being loved on in some of them!  

08 May 2013 6:51 PM

Johnny - congrats on your big exacta hit, you got the money.  

I addition to "looking for some tutoring in the thoro-graph sheets" you may want to look into a money management book or two.

Good luck in Baltimore.

08 May 2013 8:22 PM

Kentucky Derby..Good Article on ORB congratulations to his connection.. Don't forget to thanks the connections of Palice Malice if is not for his suicidal Pace the outcome will be way different just say Orb got his way this time..  next stop Preakness Stakes If you think Orb will win again place your bet.. Orb might out run them again this time.. Maybe?..Not too fast Rosario..

08 May 2013 11:06 PM

[QUOTE]"Every year it seemed like they had a horse who was destined to win the Derby, but then when the races got longer, they all seemed to not want the distance. It seemed like Bold Ruler was getting a reputation for siring sprinters... until a little horse named Secretariat came along!" [OLD TIMER]

It was the irresistible force meeting the immoveable object. Bold Ruler couldn't sire a stayer. This was quickly evident and was countered with a harem of the most amazing classic mares of all time, who could not fail to produce a stayer or two if you bred them to Ultimus. Misty Morn, for instance, was champion 3-yr-old and champion handicap mare by Princequillo. North Broadway was out of an Epsom Oaks winner by Ribot. Top Command was out of a Prince Bio daughter. Somethingroyal, of course, was by Princequillo and had chaser blood on the bottom line. I would wager that never before and rarely since was there such an international flow of classic and champion mares to American shores.

09 May 2013 12:39 AM

If we just add up all the adjectives here, it sounds like the Phipps-Janneys were the kind of people who would have put the breed first and gelded Bold Ruler.

09 May 2013 12:41 AM
Needler in Virginia

Mike Relva and PaulaHiggins...well said. And playfriskyforme, get over yourself. Yes, Funny's win was wonderful and I wish he HAD won the TC; Smarty, too, and the beat goes on. I'll Have Another?? Nah. Considering how those last three days played out, I'll always be suspicious of the circumstances. But Orb? His breeder/owners (the very best combo I can imagine) are not at fault for having inherited money. Wish I could have. Along with the money, though, came a devotion to horses that you do NOT see in the Wall Street racers or water hucksters or the millionaires....the "new" owners and trainers seem to be all about 9 second splits at 2 YO in training sales, get 'em to the track, run their asses off and then retire 'em fast to cash in on the breeding shed bucks....that's before everyone figures out that they ran 4 races in OK times, then "retired" early with a slab fracture or bowed tendon or cracked sesamoid (probably begun by the 9 second splits). Nah, all the Orb connections have shown is a willingness to follow the horse's lead, run him as and when, train for stamina and soundness, train the horse to be the best he can be and then allow him to do his job as well as possible. I think it's a bit disingenuous of you to say the Orb win was not "embraceable" and that you "might" go to the Belmont if Orb wins the first two legs. ME? If Orb wins the 2/3, I'll start walkin' on May 21 to make sure I arrive on time..... and considering I'm an old poop, it would take me at LEAST that long.

I celebrate the presence of the Janneys and Phipps and McGaugheys of racing. There are so few left with that kind of care and attention to the horses and traditions of racing. Old fashioned? Maybe. Of value? CERTAINLY. To be emulated? ABSOLUTELY! We might learn something from the way these folks breed and raise and train their horses....we just might learn that new is not always better, that changing something because it's traditional is not always a good idea, and that horses raised on hay, oats, water and sound training, rather than PED's and steroids, just might be the direction racing should be going.

Just a couple of thoughts to ponder..........


09 May 2013 12:43 AM

Regarding Orb running at the Belmont, that is his home track. D. Wayne Lukas said that he only has to come out of his stall at the Belmont.

Shug was reluctant to run Orb at Gulfstream as that is a speed favoring track that favors front runners and not closers.

Just look at the races he ran at Gulfstream. And in each race he has run he has run better than the race before. And he makes it look easy.

I think that's why so many people question the efforts of great horses because it just looks like they are floating down the track.

09 May 2013 5:05 AM

Great comments Needler in Virginia. I think it would be good to write to Stuart Janney at the Jockey Club after the Triple Crown and show our support for the Old School way of doing things. I know I will be writing to him.

09 May 2013 5:12 AM

Thanks JimF

As far as a Money Management book, I took some of the winnings and bet the Heat last night.

Next weekend I am taking my wife to Key West for a well deserved relaxing weekend.

Life is Good and a gift enjoy it to all.

Again TY to all as I truly enjoy learning.

09 May 2013 7:44 AM
Needler in Virginia

Thanks, TerriZ. I know I sounded a bit of a fuddy duddy, and I probably am....there are worse things I could be!

In light of the Udall bill being presented to Congress this week, maybe a couple thousand notes to the Jockey Club might be in order. The gorilla in the room is getting ready to flex his muscles and racing won't like it. Maybe the

Phipps/Janney/McGaughey "old fashioned ways"

would be worth examining.  It certainly appears that Orb got to the Derby in more than good order and that's down to his owner/trainer partnership. Even if Orb doesn't win the Triple Crown, he and his connections have shown racing that what makes sense is listening to the horse rather than checking the travel schedule of the owners. Last time I looked, the sport is still called "horse racing" which would imply that the horses are a fairly important part of the equation. We probably should remember that............I know you and Mike Relva and Slew and PaulaHiggins and a lot of others do.

Cheers and safe trips.

09 May 2013 11:55 AM

As always, Steve, thanks for your wonderful perspective.

Any word on how Black Onyx is doing?

09 May 2013 12:07 PM

Orb and his connections' are  deserving winner of Kentucky Derby 139.

Orb overcame some major Derby trends en rout to victory.

First Derby winner for a son of A P Indy. With the obvious stamina influence of A P Indy this victory has been long in coming. The Late Development Syndrome theory cited for A P Indy sire line by a regular contributor can now be put rest.

Derby winners have not been very successful as Derby winning broodmare sires. The last Derby winner produced from a broodmare  sired by a Derby winner occurred 40 plus year ago. Orb victory represent the second in the last 45 years. Derby Unbridle is the dam sire of Orb.

It is note mentioning that Derby winning broodmare sire Unbridle only needs a Belmont victory by one of his broodmares to complete what might be an unprecedented Triple, Triple.

He sired a winner of each leg of the Triple Crown. With Orb's Derby victory, his broodmares have now produced a Derby and a Preakness winner.

09 May 2013 12:11 PM
Soldier Course

I saw a photo on Twitter of Lady Liberty, Orb's dam. This was taken inside the broodmare barn at Claiborne Farm. Lady Liberty was standing in her stall, and there was a newspaper article about Orb's Derby win tacked to her stall door.

I noticed that her stall had the number 3 on the door. According to Bill Nack's biography of Secretariat, Somethingroyal's stall number at Claiborne was 3.

Wouldn't this be "Something ..."!

09 May 2013 2:59 PM
Paula Higgins

Thank you Needler In Virginia for your compliment. You are so right: it is HORSE racing. Playfriskyforme, like you, I love to see the little guy win as in the case of Funny Cide. It was a heartwarming story and gladdened my heart. Loved that horse. But the other side of that is the horse owner who has been in the sport for years and loves his horses as much or more, to the point they only do what is best for the horse and nothing else. So they skip the "bling" races if necessary and race the horse only when the horse is ready. That is what I love about John Shirreffs. That man will not run a horse unless he thinks they are absolutely ready, which is why Zenyatta never raced earlier. We all know there are trainers that train towards a race and unless the horse is in significantly bad straights, they race them. Let's face it, no one who owns a race horse is hurting for money. It is a huge financial commitment.

09 May 2013 7:56 PM

Soldier Course,

Great observation about the 3 on the doors.  How cute they put the article about Orb's Derby win on his dam's stall door!  Perhaps it's an omen of what is to come.  Orb looks worthy of wearing the crown and Belmont being his home track, only time will tell.  It would be amazing, and I'll be standing right there if it happens!

09 May 2013 11:23 PM
Mike Relva

Needler in VA

Thanks,and appreciate the kind words. You see that's why I fought tooth and nail with an ex host on BloodHorse that only thought of horses as machines,also his constant slams of a trainer of morals. He only defended trainer's/owners if they were thugs.

10 May 2013 12:35 AM

Needler in Virginia; great response to Playfriskyforme's tasteless post.

10 May 2013 1:31 AM
Mike Relva

Solider Course

How's everything going? Good comments from you as usual.

10 May 2013 11:33 AM
Needler in Virginia

Mike, Paula, Terri, Robin...I knew we'd all agree on, at least, this! And Mike, as an aside, I do NOT miss the ex host, either!! It's good to know that there's a teeny chance the thugs just might not win the war...battles, sure....but maybe not the entire war! Do just a few constitute a revolution? I gotta go find that in one of my history books........

I hope you all have a grand weekend at the windows and everywhere else. Me? I'm agonizing over TVG's lack of actual racing "news", wishing we could get HRTV without actually going over to Dish, and checking in with BloodHorse every 30 minutes or so. Meanwhile, I'm riveted by the Cleveland stories and the pop-tart Arizona cluster****.

And to Steve, HUGE compliments on this article; I loved every word and all the pix. Orb seems to be practicing his "look of eagles" for the photo ops or is that my wishful thinking? And, I'd like apologize to you for going off track with my posts; I really, really, really try to keep on point but sometimes just one comment sends me spiraling out already knew that, though. So apologies again and I hope you have a grand weekend, too.

Cheers and safe trips.

10 May 2013 12:52 PM
Soldier Course

Well, I wish there was an Orb on my face instead of Egg.

I wish I had an Orb on my face instead of an Egg.

My post about Stall #3 and Somethingroyal and Lady Liberty should have dwelled in the gate. Because in the middle of last night it hit me. Somethingroyal's stall was #3, but she of course was at The Meadow in Doswell, Virginia, not at Claiborne Farm in Paris, Kentucky.

As embarrassing as this is, perhaps the fact that both stalls are #3 will save me from being an overlay.

10 May 2013 3:49 PM

Soldier Course,

Not to worry.  Both stalls being #3 of the dams of each Derby winner is good enough whatever farm they were at.  And there are 3 letters in Orb's name, 3 legs of the Triple Crown, and 3 weeks between the Preakness and Belmont.  Interesting what post position Orb will draw for the Preakness and hopefully the Belmont.


Good points.  Glad you are back.  I know Linda in Texas was asking about you too recently.  Great idea about putting the thoroughbreds first in the equation.  So much more needs to be done for "horse first" mentality.  If they act up or are too aggressive early on they get gelded to fit into the trainer's or human agendas, they can't seem to get gate school right, either reconfigure the gate and make it less intimidating and less metal to bang their heads on or more schooling as others have suggested in Steve's article after this one. There's not enough patience, the animal has to be fit into the racing agenda on human time and terms.  And the meds, I don't even want to go there, cobra venom, anticoagulant rodenticides, bute, gabba, what's next.  I agree, new does not always mean better.  I like Shug's old school mentality.

10 May 2013 8:10 PM

Steve...Great article.I am glad for Shug that he won the Derby and with a AP Indy line colt.He looked very impressive down the streatch he could win the next 2 if he stays healthy.I bet him accross the board and it worked out very well.Goldencents messsed up my Trifecta I had Orb and Revolutionary.He is a big horse with stamina and most importantly can run.I like Orb's chances

10 May 2013 9:43 PM
Soldier Course


Thanks for helping me save face, and also for pointing out how the number 3 has popped up several times in connection with Orb. Maybe there'll be more instances as we get closer.


I agree with your observation about the karma of last year's Triple Crown debacle giving rise to Orb's day. As much as I love racing, my heart never got into the 2012 TC hoopla. I always felt like something was going to derail it before they opened the starting gate at Belmont Park. And I'll always be skeptical about those last few days.

I'd like to mention how happy I am for the Pons family of Country Life Farm and Merryland for the part they have in Orb's history, as Malibu Moon once stood at Country Life before moving to Castleton-Lyons and then Spendthrift. I saw him a few years ago at C-L.

11 May 2013 2:23 PM

I will mention once again that Orb and Revolutionary only ran in maiden races as 2yos.

I still believe colts that race only as 2yos will win the Derby.Colts that are put through the grind as 2yos havent done well in the Derby for at least several years.All of the top 4 finishers in the 2013 Derby were had light schedules as 2yos.Normady Invasion was managed very well as opposed to Overanalyzed who nosed him out in the Remsen.Ill Have Another stopped racing as a 2yo at Saratoga.

The trainers are slowly adjusting to this and I think ther will ultimately be two seasons for a colt his 2yo campaign and his 3yo campaign NOT BOTH(I dont believe in whatever the term is that is used for colts that race as 2yos)see I have such a strong opinion that my memory dosent even remember what the term is.

11 May 2013 6:38 PM


"Freedom Child: Hopefully, toward a racing career, he might make a good ‘miler’ type in ‘claiming’ fields, possibly even allowance races"

Well, Well he won a G2 race and is being directed to the Belmont.

It appears he has exceeded your expectation.

How can a colt that caused Orb to be fully intended to break his maiden and who finished ahead of Revolutionary in their only meeting can be summarized in such a negative way?

12 May 2013 12:23 AM
Mike Relva


Hey! Recently read your comments about Elan. Glad she's hanging in. Please tell the gang hello for me.

13 May 2013 12:23 PM
Lise from Maine


Love that photo of "the kiss" on Orb.

Respect and love of the horse is what is needed in this industry.

Look what happened to Dyna King. It is such a tragic story.

Your stories are always so wonderful and full of history, and

especially love the photos.

Thank you!

Lise from Maine

15 May 2013 11:14 AM

Recent Posts



Social Media

More Blogs