Orb installed as 7-2 favorite for Kentucky Derby
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Trainer Doug O'Neill had a pretty darn good day on two courses.
First he birdied the eighth hole during a Wednesday afternoon golf outing at Valhalla and then he aced the Kentucky Derby draw when Goldencents landed in the No. 8 post and was made the 5-1 third choice for Saturday's race.
“It should be perfect for him,” said O'Neill, who saddled last year's winner, I'll Have Another.
As for the birdie — the highlight of an otherwise forgettable round — he said, “That was like winning the Derby on the golf course.”
Orb was made the slight 7-2 favorite over undefeated Verrazano, one of a record-tying five horses for trainer Todd Pletcher.
Trained by Shug McGaughey, Orb drew the No. 16 post in a full field of 20 horses.
Four horses have won from there, most recently Animal Kingdom two years ago.
McGaughey is in racing's Hall of Fame, but the 62-year-old trainer has yet to win the Derby in six previous tries.
“I think where from he is, we'll be solid,” McGaughey said. “Kind of hold our position, maybe try to creep in a little bit more around the first turn, and he can kind of watch what's going on down on the inside.”
Orb comes into the Derby on a four-race winning streak. He won the Florida Derby in his last start.
Pletcher was pleased about where his posse landed in the starting gate.
Wood Memorial winner Verrazano drew the No. 14 post and was the 4-1 second choice.
“We got everything we wanted,” Pletcher said.
“No complaints whatsoever.”
Another Pletcher horse, Revolutionary, was the fourth choice at 10-1 on the morning line set by Churchill Downs oddsmaker Mike Battaglia.
The colt is ridden by Calvin Borel, a three-time Derby winner famous for riding the rail. Revolutionary drew the No. 3 post, leaving Borel close to his favorite route on the track.
“Very happy,” Pletcher said.
“I think Calvin will be looking to go inside as soon as he could, so starting off inside was a good thing.”
Oxbow and Will Take Charge will be the record 46th and 47th Derby starters for Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas, a four-time Derby winner.
Both are long shots — Oxbow at 30-1 and Will Take Charge at 20-1.
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