Orb, winner of the Kentucky Derby, returned to the worktab July 3 for the first time since his third-place finish in the June 6 Belmont Stakes with a three-furlong breeze at Fair Hill Training Center near Elkton, Md.
According to Hall of Fame trainer Shug McGaughey, Stuart Janney III and Phipps Stable's homebred 3-year-old son of Malibu Moon went the distance in :36 and galloped out a half in :48 and change under regular rider Jen Patterson.
"This is his first work [since the Belmont] and we thought he went great," McGaughey said. "Bruce Jackson texted me right after the work and said he went great, Jen called me when she got off him and said everything went well, he went easy and came home great."
Orb, who took the Kentucky Derby as part of a five-race win streak that included the Besilu Stables Fountain of Youth and Besilu Stables Florida Derby before finishing fourth in the Preakness and third in the Belmont, could ship to Saratoga Race Course within the next 2 ½ weeks, McGaughey said. The big bay is pointing for a start in the Aug. 24 Travers Stakes.
"When I sent him to Fair Hill from Belmont the plan was to keep him there two weeks," the trainer explained. "It's been maybe 26 days since the Belmont and after time was kind of up, I told Bruce 'You'll kind of have to guide me here a little bit.' He said, 'This horse is doing so good here, he seems so happy.' So we haven't moved him and I told Jen the other day, our stable's going to move [from Belmont to Saratoga] on Sunday week, but he doesn't have to move if he continues to do as well as he's doing there."
Orb has undergone hyperbaric chamber treatments at Fair Hill and has enjoyed sessions in the cold saltwater spa there in addition to regular turnout time.
"It's a countrified atmosphere and I think he's mostly being a horse right now instead of a racehorse," McGaughey said. "He goes in the round pen before he trains, he trains and comes back, and they graze him for hours."
It is likely that Orb will bypass the July 27 Jim Dandy, the traditional Travers prep, and go straight to the 1 ¼-mile "Midsummer Derby."
"My plans are straight to the Travers, but that could change," McGaughey said. "One thing I want to be careful of is, I don't want to take two steps forward and one step back."
Belmont winner Palace Malice is one who will target the Jim Dandy, Dogwood Stable founder Cot Campbell said. The partnership group's Curlin colt returned to training after his 3 ¼-length Belmont win with a four-furlong move over the training track at Belmont and one over the Oklahoma training track at Saratoga Race Course. He went an easy half in :49.45 on June 23 and repeated upstate June 30 in :49.41 for trainer Todd Pletcher.
"Todd put him back in work a little earlier than he expected because the horse was bouncing around and asking for it," Campbell reported. "He had his second work this past Sunday and he's doing great. I guess we'll work next time on the main track.
"He's a very durable, tough, earnest racehorse who seems to be getting better. He's a May 2 foal so he's got a license to have been slightly behind the others he shows signs of really coming into his own and we're delighted. It'll be nice going to Saratoga with [the Belmont] under our belts and two big races to look at. Hopefully we'll come out of the Jim Dandy in great shape and have a legit shot to go to the Travers and I wouldn't think we shouldn't expect that."
Calumet Farm's Preakness winner Oxbow, by Awesome Again, has not yet registered his first breeze since finishing second in the Belmont for Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas.