If Andrew Beyer of the Washington Post is correct, Kentucky Derby winner Orb should have no trouble winning today's Preakness.
The temperature is supposed to be mild in Baltimore today — around 72° with a slight chance of rain. That's important because, as anyone who saw the Kentucky Derby two weeks ago will attest, the first race in the Triple Crown was run in muddy conditions.
Thus, the question today is, did Orb win the Kentucky Derby because of or in spite of the track conditions? Well, that's how I see it, anyway.
Beyer, though, thinks the key factor is the small field.
"The second–, third– and fourth–place finishers at Churchill Downs will not be at Pimlico," Beyer observes. "Just eight horses will challenge Orb, and it is difficult to make a solid case for any of them."
Jerry Bossert of the New York Daily News makes a solid case for how the race will play out — and he, too, thinks Orb will win it.
"[T]he Triple Crown dream continues for three more weeks," he writes.
At this point, that is something that is not obvious. It remains to be seen.
But of all the pre–Preakness opining I have seen, Bill Dwyre of the Los Angeles Times may be the master of the obvious when he writes that the stakes are highest for Orb in today's race.
It's always the most crucial. If the Kentucky Derby winner loses the Preakness, the interest level for the Belmont three weeks later plummets — to the point where only folks in the industry and diehard racing fans will care who wins.
But if the Kentucky Derby winner also wins the Preakness, the Belmont becomes a prime attraction, and advertising will sell at Super Bowl–like rates. We're in the midst of a 35–year drought in the pursuit of a Triple Crown, and horse racing could use one.
Everything hinges on the Preakness. And Chris Korman writes in the Baltimore Sun that Orb is simply better than the rest. Whereas "[t]he Derby winner's reputation always balloons somewhere on the road from Louisville to [Baltimore]," he writes, "Orb's ascension has nearly made the rest of the field an afterthought."
If Orb wins today's Preakness, TV ratings for the Belmont could set records.