Orb, Oxbow flop in Belmont Stakes
Jun. 09, 2013
NEW YORK (AP) — Both Orb and Oxbow came up short in the Belmont Stakes on Saturday.
Neither could build on their wins in the Triple Crown as Palace Malice pulled off the 13-1 upset.
Orb, the spectacular winner of the Kentucky Derby with a powerful rally in the slop, fizzled out in the Preakness and the Belmont.
He was fourth in the Preakness after being pinned down on the rail for much the race. The bettors were in a forgiving mood, making him the 2-1 favorite in the Belmont.
This time, there was no excuse.
Dropping far back in the early stages of the 1½ mile Belmont, Orb uncorked a big rally around the final turns. The crowd of 47,562 reacted, expected another explosive run through the lane.
Orb didn't have it, flattening out in the drive and settling for third. He couldn't even reel in the tiring Oxbow who held on for second in the crawling slow 27.58-second final quarter-mile.
"I moved him to the outside like he's done before," jockey Joel Rosario said. "In the end, I couldn't even make it up to second. I felt when he was moving, I was pretty confident like in the Derby. But maybe it was the mile and a half, or maybe he was just tired."
It was a deflating end after sky high expectations following the Derby win.
"I just wish we had showed a little better performances in the Preakness and the Belmont," trainer Shug McGaughey said.
Oxbow, sixth in the Derby slop, rebounded with a front-running upset at 15-1 in the Preakness. At Pimlico, Oxbow was left alone on the lead to set a slow pace.
He had company in the Belmont from Frac Daddy and Freedom Child and the pace was very fast — 46.66 for the first half-mile — for a race this long.
"I thought I was dead midway down the backside," jockey Gary Stevens said. "They were suicidal fractions and he never got any break."
Stevens, knowing he was out of horse when Palace Malice galloped past, marveled at how gamely Oxbow persevered to hold second.
"I'm really proud of him," Stevens said.
UNDERCARD ACTION: The Belmont Stakes undercard got off to a Belmont-like start with Power Broker easily winning the $150,000 Easy Goer.
Considered a Belmont possible a few weeks ago, trainer Bob Baffert's 3-year-old charged early under Rosie Napravnik and held off Micromanage by 3¾ lengths with Irsaal third, paying $4.70 to win.
"He came in a few days ago in great shape," said Baffert's assistant trainer, John Terranova. "His win at Churchill (in an allowance race) was impressive and it looked like it was a great effort today. Rosie gave him a great ride and kept him out of trouble."
Power Broker was a major factor last season, taking the Front Runner Stakes at Santa Anita before finishing fifth in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile.
He was ruled out of the Kentucky Derby after finishing a distant fifth to Goldencents in the Santa Anita Derby, his season debut.
Always in a Tiz, withdrawn from Belmont consideration on Tuesday, finished eighth.
MAKING A POINT IN MANHATTAN: Point of Entry, the 1-2 favorite, gamely battled between rivals in the deep stretch to win the $500,000 Manhattan on the turf.
One of the nation's top grass horses, Point of Entry is 2 for 2 this season, having also captured the Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap.
John Velazquez rode for trainer Shug McGaughey as the 5-year-old won for the ninth time in 17 starts, lifting his career earnings over $2.3 million.
Point of Entry beat Optimizer by 1½ lengths with Real Solution a close-up third. The time was 2:02.55 for the 1¼ miles over the rain-softened course rated yielding. He paid $3.10 to win.
Velazquez made it a turf stakes double as Stephanie's Kitten slipped through on the hedge to beat Better Lucky by a half-length in the $500,000 Just A Game Stakes for fillies and mares. He guided the 4-year-old to a second straight stakes win following the Distaff Turf Mile on the Kentucky Derby undercard. The Wayne Catalano trainee ran the mile in 1:36.27, paying $8 to win.
Fast Bullet beat entrymate Justin Phillip by 2½ lengths in the $400,000 True North Stakes for sprinters as Baffert got his second stakes on the card.
The 5-year-old won for the fourth time in five starts. Joel Rosario was aboard for the six furlongs in 1:08.27. The entry paid $3.60 to win as the 4-5 favorites.
Forty Tales rallied to beat Declan's Warrior by three quarters of a length in the $400,000 Woody Stephens Stakes for 3-year-old sprinters.
The Derby Trial winner trained by Todd Pletcher got his fourth win in six starts. Rosario captured his second stakes on the day as Forty Tales ran the seven furlongs in 1:22.47, paying $19.80 for the upset win.
BEEFED-UP SECURITY: With thousands of fans filing into Belmont Park, there was a noticeable increase in security.
Metal railings were set up at the main entrance for racing fans to walk through single file. As they did, New York Racing Association officials conducted electronic wand searches and checked bags for prohibited items.
New security measures prohibit backpacks, cameras with detachable lenses, coolers and purses larger than 12 inches in diameter. Several fans had to leave coolers behind before being allowed to enter the track, according to one security officer.
"Whatever they have to do to make it safe is fine with me," said Elise Disimone of New York as she entered the track.
An out-of-towner was surprised to see such tight security.
"I've never been to any event in California where security was as tight as it is now," said Nate Wigle of Sacramento, Calif. "I'm with friends from Jersey and New York and they said 'that's the way it is out here ... we're always on alert.'"
Umbrellas were prohibited, too, but after a 24-hour downpour that ended early Saturday morning, there was no rain in the forecast.
The extra security for the Belmont Stakes was put in place following the Boston Marathon bombings.
New York state, city and Nassau County police also were at the track, where a crowd of 40,000-50,000 was expected to watch Kentucky Derby winner Orb and Preakness winner Oxbow and 12 others run in the 1 1/2-mile Belmont.
OMAHA ANNIVERSARY: Saturday was the 78th anniversary of Omaha's Belmont victory that produced the third Triple Crown winner.
Omaha, the son of Gallant Fox, the 1930 Triple Crown winner, followed in his daddy's hoofprints with a 1½-length win over Firethorn over a sloppy track in a driving rain storm. Shuffled back in the pack at in the early stages, Omaha rolled home with a strong rally down the center of the track to beat four rivals with Willie Saunders aboard for trainer "Sunny" Jim Fitzsimmons.
It was the second Triple Crown sweep for New York banker William Woodward, who also owned Gallant Fox.
Amazingly, Omaha was not Horse of the Year for 1935. That honor went to Discovery, who beat Omaha later that season in the Brooklyn Handicap.
Omaha died at 25 and was buried at Ak-Sar-Ben Racetrack's Circle of Champions in his namesake city. The track closed in 1995 and the land went to the University of Nebraska-Omaha. His grave, and the Circle of Champions, are now located next to a home economics and culinary arts building.
Students who fail class cooking assignments are told to "Give it to Omaha" — in other words, throw it out the window.
Sir Barton was the first Triple Crown winner in 1919.
AP Sports Writer Richard Rosenblatt contributed to this report.