Orb Ready To Roll

SA Punters won't see or bet on the Gr1 Kentucky Derby

All The Attention. Derby favourite Orb gets the attention earlier this week

All The Attention. Derby favourite Orb gets the attention earlier this week

The most exciting two minutes in sport will not be broadcast on Tellytrack this weekend and there will be no Saftote betting facilities available. This was confirmed officially by Phumelela today.

Citing technical difficulties with the broadcast and differences in bet values, Saftote confirmed that it had not been offered in the past few years.

The Gr1 Kentucky Derby is a race for three-year-olds, held annually in Louisville, Kentucky, United States, on the first Saturday in May, capping the two-week-long Kentucky Derby Festival.

The race is run over 2000m at Churchill Downs.

The race is known in the United States as “The Most Exciting Two Minutes In Sports” or “The Fastest Two Minutes in Sports” for its approximate duration, and is also called “The Run for the Roses” for the blanket of roses draped over the winner.

It is the first leg of the US Triple Crown and is followed by the Preakness Stakes and the  Belmont Stakes.

The New York Times reports on the favourite Orb.

The silks are as recognizable as any in American racing — black with a cherry cap and white with a cherry sash — but neither has ever been graced with the winner’s roses on the first Saturday in May.

These may indeed be the silks of champions, the Phipps family stable and that of the Janneys, two of the oldest-running in the sport and bonded by blood. But neither stable has won the Kentucky Derby. Nor has their trainer, Shug McGaughey, the only achievement missing from a Hall of Fame career spent winning nearly every major race in New York and beyond.

A long-striding bay colt named Orb could change all that on Saturday.

Shug McGaughey

Shug McGaughey

McGaughey and his owners are immune to Derby fever and believe that the horse takes you to Churchill Downs, not the other way around. On the heels of four consecutive victories, topped by the Grade 1 Florida Derby, Orb has indeed pulled them to Louisville for the 139th running of the Derby. He has been made the morning-line favorite in the field of 20 at odds of 7-to-2.

Orb’s owners, Stuart Janney 3d and Ogden Mills Phipps, are first cousins and great-grandsons of the Carnegie Steel magnate Henry Phipps. They each have their own sizable stables, handed down from their parents. And together they own a handful of horses, including Orb.

In less patient hands, Orb might have turned out differently. McGaughey does not overdo it with young horses. Once a skinny colt, Orb took time to develop, losing his first three starts at 2 years old.

“We give them time to come along and tell us when they’re ready to be on the track,” said Phipps, 72. “I call that old-school or something like that.”

Blue Sky Days

Blue Sky Days

In Florida this winter, Orb flourished, physically and mentally. But his handlers never thought they had a Derby horse until he won the Grade 2 Fountain of Youth at Gulfstream Park on Feb. 23. Still, they wanted more proof, from the Florida Derby a month later, before making arrangements to be in Louisville.

“I’d been a little hesitant to run in the Derby if we finished second or third,” said Janney, 65, who is the chairman of the family-owned Bessemer Trust Company, having succeeded Phipps in 1994. “This wasn’t something I discussed with Shug; we didn’t need to. I don’t think it’s worth going down to Kentucky to be there for the show. I think it’s important to go there with a very strong hand.”

Orb’s performance was eye-opening. McGaughey had marveled at how the colt had grown physically and in confidence before the Florida Derby. On his way to the paddock that day, he was quiet, almost sleepy, but once there he was excitedly on his toes. When the gate opened, he was more aggressive than usual and closer to the pace. He was so full of run at the top of the stretch that his jockey, John Velazquez, eased back on him slightly before exploding to the lead.

McGaughey and the owners were elated. Janney has never entered a horse in the Derby, although his parents ran Private Terms in 1988, a horse that had been unbeaten but finished ninth. For McGaughey and the Phippses, this is their best shot since 1989, when Easy Goer couldn’t catch Sunday Silence.

McGaughey, unlike Janney and Phipps, is a native Kentuckian, and winning the Derby is a dream.

“If I go, I’m going to have to have a good shot,” said McGaughey, 62. “Do I wish we had been more competitive in the Triple Crown? Yes. Would I like to be in the future? Yes. But the horse is going to tell us what to do. And Orb is the first one I’ve had in a while like that.”

Luck Of The Draw?

Luck Of The Draw?

Orb’s bloodlines have been circulating in the Janney family for 60 years, with names like Ruffian in his family tree, and he races in their silks. Both Janney and Phipps breed their own horses, which makes for a tapestry of human lineage entwined with a rich equine ancestry.

For the Janney family, it all goes back to Bold Irish. Born in 1948, she was bred and owned by Bull Hancock of Claiborne Farm, which still works closely with the Phippses and Janneys, under the stewardship of Bull’s son Seth. Bold Irish won only twice in 20 starts.

Hancock sold her to Gladys Mills Phipps, who raced as Wheatley Stable and bred such greats as Bold Ruler. In time, she encouraged her daughter, Barbara Phipps Janney, and Barbara’s husband, Stuart Janney Jr., to enter the sport. She gave them a present: Bold Irish and another mare.

“And out of that came all of these wonderful horses, like Ruffian, Private Terms and Icecapade,” said their son, Stuart.

One of Bold Irish’s offspring was Shenanigans, who had the great filly Ruffian, whose sire was the Bold Ruler stallion Reviewer. It had the family written all over it. For Orb’s lineage, Shenanigans led to Laughter, her only surviving daughter, and then onto Steel Maiden, Mesabi Maiden, and then Lady Liberty. Orb’s sire is Malibu Moon.

When Janney’s parents died in the late 1980s, he contemplated, much like they once had, whether to carry on with the horses. His late uncle, Ogden Phipps, the current Ogden’s father, encouraged him.

“If you want to do this,” Phipps told his nephew, “I’m very pleased to be your partner. I’ll give you as much advice or as little advice as you’d like. The horses will run in your colors. And my only strong suggestion is that we get my trainer Shug McGaughey to train them.”

The rest is history. Janney said he has close to 90 horses overall — broodmares, foals, yearlings, horses of racing age — and Phipps has around 120. Of those, the cousins own 10 or 11 in partnership. That their best Derby shot has arrived with a jointly-owned horse makes it all the more special, Janney said.

“This mare and this horse — Lady Liberty and Orb — go back through the generations to what was our common grandmother,” Janney said. “So it all has a certain rationale and sense to it.”

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