By Tom LaMarra BloodHorse.com
BALTIMORE, MD-May 18, 2013)-Calumet Farm's Oxbow gunned to the front from the gate in the $1 million Preakness Stakes (gr. I) May 18 and never looked back to post a 1 3/4-length victory at 15-1.
Heavy favorite Orb, winner of the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I), made a bid on the backstretch, fell back along the inside, and then rallied mildly to finish fourth. Itsmyluckyday finished second, with Mylute third.
Gary Stevens rode the winner for Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas, who captured the Preakness for the sixth time. Oxbow, winner of the grade III Lecomte Stakes (gr. III) earlier this year, covered the 1 3/16 miles at Pimlico Race Course in 1:57.54 on a fast track.
Oxbow, a 3-year-old colt by Awesome Again out of the Cee's Tizzy mare Tizamazing, was bred in Kentucky by Colts Neck Stables.
Oxbow finished sixth in the Kentucky Derby after making a solid move on the backstretch on the a sloppy track.
"He didn't get a lot of respect even after his great performance (in the Derby)," said Stevens, who returned to riding this year after a long break. "We came back and breezed him (May 12), and what you saw (in the Preakness) is exactly how he acted in the workout.
"We came in here with a lot of confidence. When I hit the half-mile pole, I said, 'Are you kidding me? Is this happening?' The race was over at that point. I just walked the dog to the half-mile pole."
Oxbow broke from post 6 and quickly opened up by almost two lengths over Goldencents in second, Titletown Five in third, and Itsmyluckyday widest of all in fourth. The first quarter-mile was :23.94 and the half-mile in :48.60; that was the point jockey Joel Rosario moved Orb, who was sixth, off the rail.
The 4-5 favorite moved in tandem with Departing to his outside, but then Orb encountered a little traffic and dropped to the rail again. At that point Oxbow had cruised through six furlongs in 1:13.26 and began extending his lead.
Itsmyluckyday, ridden by John Velazquez, gradually gained outside as Goldencents and Titletown Five faded after a mile in 1:38.14. The only horse to make up any ground in the lane was Mylute, who finished a half-length behind Itsmyluckyday under Rosie Napravnik after rallying for ninth and last.
Orb, who had dropped back to seventh, rallied again for fourth by a half-length over Goldencents in fifth.
Departing appeared to have some run from the inside entering the stretch but flattened out and finished sixth. The final three were Will Take Charge, Governor Charlie, and Titletown Five.
Oxbow paid $32.80, $12, and $6.80. Itsmyluckyday returned $7.80 and $5, while Mylute paid $5.20. The exacta paid $301.40 and the trifecta $2,061.60.
"I think I got a Hall of Fame ride," Lukas said after the Preakness. "Once the gate opens, they have to make decisions. I'm happy for Gary, and I'm happier for (Calumet owner Brad Kelley), who is trying to revive Calumet. It's very gratifying.
"As I was saying earler, I get paid to spoil dreams. You can't mail it in' it's a different surface and a different time. You gotta line them up and run them."
Trainer Shug McGaughey, who was high on how Orb had trained at Belmont Park and Pimlico leading up to the Preakness, said it appeared the colt was in good position but may have been uncomfortable with his inside position through much of the race.
"I'm disappointed, but I know how the game works," McGaughey said.