Orb looks to take next step at Preakness

Five storylines to watch going into Saturday’s 138th Preakness Stakes.

1. One down, two to go

If Kentucky Derby winner Orb wins the Preakness, he would become the 13th horse to win the first two legs of the Triple Crown since 1978, when Affirmed became the last horse to win the Triple Crown.

Longest Triple Crown Droughts
Since 1st Winner (1919)

Last year, I’ll Have Another was scratched prior to the Belmont, while Big Brown did not finish in 2008.

You have to go back to Smarty Jones in 2004 (finished second) to find the last horse to finish the Belmont after winning the first two legs of the Triple Crown.

The 35 years since Affirmed is the longest drought ever for a Triple Crown winner. In fact, it’s nearly as long as the combined droughts ended by Secretariat (25 years) and Gallant Fox (11) combined.

2. Favorites fare well

Orb’s favored status doesn’t necessarily mean victory. But if recent history is a guide, a top-two finish is likely.

The post-time favorite in the Preakness has finished first or second in 13 of the past 15 years. Barbaro did not finish the race as the post-time favorite in 2006. Four years later, Super Saver became the first favorite to complete the race and run out of the money since Cavonnier in 1996. Only seven Derby winners since 1973 have run out of the money

The last post-time favorite to actually win was Rachel Alexandra in 2009.

3. Lukas chases record

Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas brings three horses to the Preakness: Oxbow, Titletown Five and Will Take Charge.

Most Triple Crown Race Wins
By Trainer

That improves his chances, as he looks to break Jim Fitzsimmons’ record of 13 Triple Crown race wins.

Five of Lukas’ 13 Triple Crown wins have come at the Preakness.

A sixth would place him in sole possession of second place all-time by a trainer behind Robert Walden’s seven.

4. Orb alone among top Derby finishers

Neither Derby runner-up Golden Soul, nor third place finisher Revolutionary run in the Preakness, marking just the 10th time since the Preakness has been regularly run after the Derby (since 1933) that neither the horse which crossed the finish line second or third in the Derby ran back in the Preakness.

Of the eight Derby winners to run back in those editions of the Preakness, five won.

5. No Derby usually means no win

Only eight horses since 1952 have won the Preakness without starting the Derby, most recently Rachel Alexandra in 2009 and Bernardini in 2006. This year, three horses could join that list: Titletown Five, Departing and Govenor Charlie.