Baltimore • Kentucky Derby winner Orb and Illinois Derby champion Departing played together as foals in the lush pastures of Claiborne Farm in central Kentucky.
It will be all business on Saturday, though, when the horses meet for the first time on the racetrack in the $1 million Preakness Stakes.
Orb is aiming for the second jewel of the Triple Crown, and a chance three weeks later at the Belmont Stakes to become the first horse to sweep the series since Affirmed in 1978.
Departing, it turns out, could be Orb’s main obstacle as the leading "new shooter" in the Preakness.
"New shooters" are the fresh horses who bypass the Kentucky Derby and join the Triple Crown two weeks later at Pimlico. Departing, 4-0-1 in five starts, is the top newcomer.
"I think Departing is a pretty darn nice horse, and he’s fresh; probably coming into the race the right way," said Shug McGaughey, Orb’s trainer.
Preakness post positions will be drawn later Wednesday. Besides Orb and Departing, the probable lineup includes Goldencents, Govenor Charlie, Itsmyluckyday, Mylute and a trio from trainer D. Wayne Lukas: Oxbow, Will Take Charge and Titletown Five.
The fact that Orb and Departing have a prior connection adds spice to this showdown. The two rivals are homebreds, meaning the breeders retained the horses for racing instead of selling at auction.
The two ownership groups are of members of racing’s aristocracy.
Cousins Ogden Mills "Dinny" Phipps and Stuart Janney III bred Orb. Ogden Phipps, Dinny’s father, ran a racing empire that included nine champions, among them Buckpasser, Easy Goer and the undefeated filly Personal Ensign. Janney’s parents owned the great filly Ruffian.
The Phipps Stable has about 100 horses, including 20 co-owned with Janney. The stable does not go to sales, like many owners today, to pick out their horses. Instead, they breed their own, and currently have 25 mares at Claiborne Farm in Paris, Ky.Next Page >
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