For a sudden media phenomenon, Orb was remarkably relaxed on the morning of his first full day at Pimlico Tuesday as he gets ready to tackle the second jewel of racing’s Triple Crown in Saturday’s 138th running of the Preakness Stakes.
“He’s got plenty of energy,” Shug McGaughey, Orb’s trainer, told a small group of reporters and photographers outside the stakes barn at Pimlico, shortly after Orb had walked in the shed row and received his morning bath. “He’s settled in well.”
The bay muscular colt’s chief attention Tuesday appeared to be focused on the long grassy area that sits just across the path from his stall and runs along the perimeter fence. As McGaughey held court, Jenn Patterson, Orb’s exercise rider, let him munch away – and munch and munch and much, the colt’s brilliant coat shining in the morning sun.
Patterson said they typically let the colt walk for 40 minutes, spend 20 minutes getting him bathed and then let him graze for 40 minutes if grass is nearby, as it was Tuesday.
“Nothing’s rushed,” explained Patterson, 32, who has been riding horses since she was 3. “We like to let them walk, let them graze. We’re trying to keep them out of the stall as much as possible.”
Asked how Orb compares to some of the other horses she has ridden and helped care for, Patterson didn’t hesitate: “He’s the best. Everything comes easy to him.”
Occasionally, Orb would pick up his head and curiously approach the few reporters watching him from the other side of a fence that runs between the path and the grassy area, playfully looking for a possible treat.
But lest anyone get the misconception the colt is always so docile, Patterson had a few words of caution.
“If he gets mad, watch out,” she said. “There’s a few times I’ve gone into his stall and you can just tell he doesn’t want to be bothered, wants to be alone. You don’t want to be around him then.”
Maybe so, but Patterson still had no hesitation about reaching into the colt’s mouth and taking away a twig he was trying to eat.
McGaughey, who also took a short turn holding Orb’s lead shank while the colt devoured more grass, appeared to be as relaxed as the colt.
Earlier, when asked by a reporter if he gallops Orb as part of his regular training regimen, the trainer replied, incredulously, “Not me.”
“That’s her job,” he said, nodding at Patterson.