The series concludes June 8 with the 145th running of the Grade 1, $1 million Belmont Stakes.
Orb, who is co-owned by Stuart S. Janney, III and the Phipps family, arrived at Belmont Park barn just before 3 p.m. after an uneventful flight from Louisville, with McGaughey arriving about an hour later.
“To see the race unfold the way I thought it would unfold – they kept saying there wasn’t going to be a lot of pace, but I thought there would be a lot of pace, and there was a thought at one time, ‘Are we too far back?’” said McGaughey. “But when he punched the button, I knew we were going to have something to say about it. To see that horse run the way he did was an absolute thrill for me.”
McGaughey said Orb would likely ship to Baltimore on May 13 or 14, and added he was looking forward to the second leg of the Triple Crown.
“He’s not overcooked, and I think we have time for him to get over this race and get to the next one,” said the trainer. “I think probably the important ones that are in there that have gone through the same thing, except for Departing, who’s had a couple extra weeks.”
Rosario, who moved his tack from the West coast to New York last summer, went into Sunday’s card at Belmont leading the nation 130 wins and $7.5 million in earnings, which does not include his victory aboard Animal Kingdom in the $10 million Dubai World Cup on March 30.
“To win the Dubai World Cup, a $10 million race, and then to win the Derby – it’s more than a dream,” said Rosario. “It’s awesome.”
Hessonite gets graded stakes win
Trainer David Donk said he watched the Kentucky Derby but didn’t “absorb” much of what had happened because he was still exited from having witnessed Hessonite’s dramatic three-quarter-length victory in the Grade 3 Beaugay approximately an hour earlier at Belmont Park.
Hessonite, who had already won six stakes against New York-breds, was trapped behind horses until she angled out sharply in midstretch, giving her enough room to surge to the lead under Junior Alvarado’s hand ride.
The Beaugay, a 1 1/16-mile grass race for fillies and mares, was her first graded stakes victory and her 5-year-old debut.
“[Trainer] Walter Kelly would say, ‘A loaded gun will go off in anybody’s hands,’” said Donk. “When you watch a horse like that, wow, it’s hard to believe she’s in your barn. She looked great in the paddock, and she’s as healthy as she has ever looked.”
Hessonite likely will make her next start in Belmont’s Grade 2 Sheepshead Bay at 1 3/8 miles on May 25.
“Now that she has won a graded race, I don’t want to say the rest of it is icing in the cake, but I don’t have to be afraid of where to run her,” said Donk.
Dayatthespa shines in return
Heavily favored Dayatthespa made a successful season debut on Sunday at Belmont Park with a four-length victory in the $90,000 You Go West Girl overnight stakes for New York-bred turf fillies and mares.
Making her first start since suffering a cut tendon in the Grade 1 Matriarch in November at Betfair Hollywood Park, the 4-year-old City Zip filly tracked My Jopia through an opening quarter-mile in 23.20 seconds and a half in 46.66.
“I’m glad she came back good after the layoff and did it the way she did it,” said jockey Javier Castellano.
Dayatthespa was voted 2012’s top New York-bred 3-year-old filly and top New York-bred turf female.
The 59th running of the Peter Pan Stakes will be the featured race on Saturday, May 11, at Belmont Park. The race is a Grade II event and open to three-year-olds willing to race nine furlongs on the dirt. The purse is $200,000. Probable horses include Incognito, Fear the Kitten, Infinite Magic, Transparent, Crop Report and Micromanage.