June 2, 2013 / 11:19 PM / 6 years ago

Orb gets thumbs up to tackle Belmont Stakes

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Kentucky Derby winner Orb has been cleared to run in next week’s $1 million Belmont Stakes, the final leg of U.S. racing’s Triple Crown, after an impressive workout on Sunday morning.

Orb cools off with a bath after a morning workout in preparation for the upcoming 138th running of the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore, Maryland, May 17, 2013. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

The colt’s trainer Shug McGaughey told reporters Orb was training well and would take his place in the mile-and-a-half classic, as long as everything else went according to plan this week.

“He hasn’t missed a beat. Everything has been A-1 forward. If it wasn’t, I wouldn’t be standing here talking to you,” McGaughey said.

“I think the Belmont is a race that stands on its own and we would love to be able to compete in it and love to be able to have a good chance to win and go from there.”

Orb’s chances of winning all three legs of the Triple Crown, a feat that has not been achieved in 35 years, were dashed when he finished fourth behind Oxbow in last month’s Preakness Stakes.

But McGaughey said he was expecting a much better showing from Orb in the Belmont, the longest of the three races.

“It does shake your confidence a little bit,” McGaughey said.

“I think if things go right, next Saturday I think you’ll see a different horse than we saw two weeks ago.”

With Oxbow also confirmed for the Belmont, Saturday’s race is shaping as a showdown to determine the best three-year-old of the season, although they may have as many as 15 other horses to contend with.

The race will mark the 21st time that the winners of the first two legs have squared off in the third.

On those occasions, the Derby winner has won the Belmont five times and the Preakness winner has triumphed nine times while the remaining races were won by a different runner.

Reporting by Julian Linden; Editing by Sonia Oxley

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