Now that the Triple Crown will not be won for the 35th consecutive year, attention can focus solely on the pending field for the 145th Belmont Stakes on June 8.
Early word has Kentucky Derby winner Orb and Preakness champ Oxbow both getting a start in the 1 1/2-mile Test of the Champion with trainer Todd Pletcher reappearing on the scene after failing to start a horse in the Preakness.
Orb, trained by Shug McGaughey, has returned to his home base at Belmont Park, where the final leg of racing's Triple Crown takes place. The colt arrived at his barn Sunday morning, waiting for his trainer.
"He was already in his stall when I got back here and seemed to be fine," McGaughey said. "We'll walk him a good while this afternoon (Sunday) and just kind of see what we have. The Belmont Stakes is on our radar screen."
Orb, winner of five of his last six starts, either got a bad ride from jockey Joel Rosario, didn't like the track or both. The colt's demeanor the next few weeks will tell his connections whether to enter him for the Belmont Stakes.
"I talked to Mr. Janney this morning (Sunday)," McGaughey said, referring to owners Stuart Janney III and Dinny Phipps. "He and Mr. Phipps had talked on their way to the airport. We just all came to the conclusion that we should just watch Orb and see. I think everything is in good shape. We'd like to run. But yesterday took a little bit out of him and he's already run five times this year and it's only the middle of May. I'd sure like to have him fresh for Saratoga and a Jim Dandy/Travers kind of a go.
"He's just going to have to tell us what we want to see. If he's jumping out of his skin, we're going to bring him over here (to run in the Belmont Stakes). I might know in about a week. I just have to wait and see. Everything's gone great all year until yesterday (Saturday). But I don't anticipate any problems. I don't think he's knocked out by any means."
Oxbow, trained by D. Wayne Lukas, ran the slowest Preakness since 1961, so he should be fresh for the 12-furlong Belmont Stakes. The colt and his trainer left Baltimore Sunday morning for a late afternoon arrival at Churchill Downs.
Lukas has now won six Preakness Stakes, four Kentucky derbies and 14 Triple Crown races. The Hall of Fame conditioner is shooting for a fifth win in the Belmont Stakes.
Conspicuously absent from the Preakness was trainer Todd Pletcher. After running five 3-year-olds in the Kentucky Derby, Pletcher did not have a single horse in the middle jewel of the Triple Crown.
However, the prolific trainer may well start another five horses in the Belmont Stakes.
"We have a few candidates, but we haven't firmed up the lineup just yet," Pletcher said. "Overanalyze breezed this (Sunday) morning and breezed well. We are planning to run him. We breezed Palace Malice and talked to (Cot) Campbell (of Dogwood Stable). We plan to run him. Revolutionary will have two breezes starting next Sunday. We plan to run him. Mike Repole is going to be the key to how many other horses we run. He has several possibilities (in addition to Overanalyze). Unlimited Budget breezed this morning, and she is possible. Micromanage is here and will breeze next Sunday, and we'll make a decision after that."
Pletcher has won the Belmont once with the filly Rags to Riches in 2007.
According to stakes coordinator Andrew Byrnes, joining Oxbow in the Belmont Stakes will be Freedom Child, Derby runner-up Golden Soul, Arkansas Derby winner Overanalyze, Palace Malice and Louisiana Derby champ Revolutionary.
Bob Baffert will run either Code West or Power Broker. Preakness runner-up Itsmyluckyday is possible.