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Preakness Countdown - Part II

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Part I

Can Kentucky Derby winner Orb make it six in a row? Will a Derby rival turn the tables? Any chance a “new shooter” could upset the apple cart? We’ll find out on Saturday, May 18th when they line up for the 138th running of the Preakness at Pimlico Race Course just outside of Baltimore, Maryland.  Anthony Stabile, best known for picking 2003 Kentucky Derby winner Funny Cide at odds of over 12-1, will break down the top contenders for the second jewel of the Triple Crown, exclusively on VegasInsider.com, culminating on Friday, May 17 with an extensive analysis of every runner. And don’t forget, you’ll be able to purchase Stabile’s Pick Packs, full of selections and plays for Preakness Day. To purchase Anthony Stabile products, CLICK HERE.

Kentucky Derby winner ORB will try to make it six in a row and add the second jewel of racings’ Triple Crown to his already gaudy resume when he takes on eight rivals in the 138th running of the Preakness this Saturday at Pimlico. Five of his Derby foes are coming back for a second shot at Orb while three new shooters will be running in an American classic for the first time.
 
It took Orb, by the now fashionable sire Malibu Moon, four starts to break his maiden, which he did going, a mile at Aqueduct last fall. In those first three efforts, Orb encountered some trouble at the start and dealt with some bad gate problems he had early on in his training.
 
Orb certainly proved the past is the past this winter at Gulfstream, rattling off three straight come from behind victories in three races, including the Fountain of Youth and Florida Derby, that couldn’t have set up more differently if they tried. Whether they sizzled or dawdled early on it made no difference to Orb who always came running late to take care of his business.
 
In the Derby they sizzled once again and Orb was probably further off the pace than anyone, including his trainer Shug McGaughey, could have imagined. Once again, though, it mattered little. Over a sloppy track, Orb was kept off the pace and out of any trouble by his rider Joel Rosario and began to pick horses off one by one. In the stretch, Orb stormed to the lead and drew away to a 2 ½ length score.
 
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Beaming with confidence, McGaughey set Orb’s itinerary hours after his Derby tally, announcing the colt would have a work the Monday or Tuesday before the Preakness and would ship soon after. True to his word, Orb worked a sensational half mile in :47 on 5/13 and boarded a van for Baltimore several hours later.
 
Perhaps the horse with the best chance of stopping Orb’s impressive run is an old friend of his, DEPARTING. You see, like most of Orb’s fellow color-bearers he was born at the storied Claiborne Farm, who in turn is one of Departing’s owners. As yearlings, Orb and Departing shared a paddock for almost a year. Less than three years later, they’ll share a racetrack with Departing trying to stop Orb from making history. 
 
No slouch himself, Departing has won four of his five starts and should be able to work out a pretty nice trip in the Preakness. After winning his first three starts for trainer Al Stall, Jr, including a minor stakes at Sam Houston, Departing tried the big boys in the Louisiana Derby, and in my opinion, got a terrible ride from B.J. Hernandez, who Stall has decided to stick with.
 
At the Fair Grounds that day, Departing was a bit further off the pace than usual then encountered a couple of blindswitches heading into the far turn. By the time Departng was free and clear of traffic it was over and Departing finished third , beaten 3 ¼ lengths.
 
Stall abandoned any Derby thoughts and pointed Departing to the Illinois Derby at Hawthorne Park, a race overlooked by the Kentucky Derby Points System, that was now being marketed as a Preakness prep. Sporting Lasix for the first time from post 13, Departing raced wide throughout but rolled to a 3 ¼ length score nonetheless.
 
Since that race, Stall hasn’t done much with Departing, working him a half mile twice at Churchill, in :49 on 5/2 and :50 2/5 on 5/12.
 
Trainer Eddie Plesa Jr. has to be hoping the third time’s the charm for his colt ITSMYLUCKYDAY when it comes to toppling the Derby winner. He first tried in the Florida Derby as the 8-5 favorite and actually had the lead turning for home before Orb went by him in mid-stretch then made very little noise as one of those “under the radar” types in Louisville where he finished fifteenth, exactly 22 ¼ lengths behind his rival.
 
After the race, Plesa said the sloppy track was likely to blame for the poor performance despite having said on the walk over to the paddock that he’d already trained and run well over wet tracks in the past.
 
In his two starts this year before running into Orb, Itsmyluckyday has been the center of attention, galloping home by six lengths in the Gulfstream Park Derby on New Years’ Day before grinding out a two length score over Eclipse champ Shanghai Bobby in the Holy Bull.
 
By Lawyer Ron, Itsmyluckyday has won five or his eleven starts overall and will get a huge rider change to John Velazquez on Saturday. After not breezing Itsmyluckyday in the nine days before the Derby, Plesa worked his colt a sharp half mile in :47 1/5 between races at Monmouth Park on 5/12.
 
One Derby also-ran that did seem to relish the off going was MYLUTE, a fast closing fifth, beaten a shade under four lengths despite having raced wide and encountering some early traffic under Rosie Napravnik, who’ll be riding in her first Preakness after cutting her teeth and first making somewhat of a name for herself on the Maryland circuit.
 
Napravnik and Mylute, a son of Midnight Lute, teamed up once prior to the Derby and the result was a resounding 10 ¾ length allowance score in the final start of his two-year-old campaign that included a pair of wins and placings in a couple of stakes at Delta Downs, including a third place finish in the Delta Jackpot.
 
While that allowance win was easily his most visually impressive performance to date, his two fastest have been in his last pair of starts since trainer Tom Amoss removed the blinkers Mylute had worn throughout his career. Two starts back, Mylute just missed capturing the Louisiana Derby when he fell a neck short to third place Kentucky Derby finisher Revolutionary.

  
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  HORSE RACING EXPERT
  Mike Dempsey
Mike covers the New York racing circuit (Aqueduct, Belmont Park, and Saratoga) year round as well as Keeneland, Churchill Downs, the Triple Crown, and the Breeders’ Cup.
Last Year Mike had a solid Triple Crown, correctly picking the winning horse in 2 of 3 races. He selected I'll Have another to win The Preakness, and nailed Union Rags to win the Belmont Stakes as his top pick.

Mike has also had past succes in the Kentucky Derby,  winning with Animal Kingdom in 2011 and rode his top picks, Super Saver and Street Sense, to the finish line in 2010 and 2007 respectively.

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Jerry "Shots" Sessa has been involved in horse racing for over 30 years. He now brings his meticulous handicapping style to VegasInsider.com. When Jerry posts picks you are getting his best bets...when you win, he wins.

Jerry's is looking to repeat his 2012 Triple Crown success, when he selected the winning horses for The Preakness and The Belmont Stakes.

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