Shug McGaughey is a cool customer but he will have to be tonight as Orb lines up in the Preakness Stakes in Maryland ready to add the nine-and-a-half furlong contest to his win in the Kentucky Derby a two weeks ago.
The 62-year-old trainer has had a nerve-shredding two weeks since Orb's triumph in Louisville, and as America gets ready for its ritual of trying to unearth the first Triple Crown winner since Affirmed in 1978 McGaughey has had his feet firmly on the ground.
"I think that a horse can sense nervousness, and I think they can sense if you're a bit uneasy around them. I've tried to take a relaxed attitude towards this whole thing," McGaughey said. "It's difficult to keep it business as usual, because it's been a pretty whirlwind life I've been living since then."
Orb will emerge from stall one of nine under Joel Rosario, who guided Animal Kingdom to success in the Dubai World Cup at Meydan Racecourse in March.
He faces five horses that trailed in his wake in Kentucky while Departing, Titletown Five, Govenor Charlie are the trio yet to lock horns with the favourite.
McGaughey has been upbeat all week in the back stretch, and believes he has a strong chance of rolling on to Belmont Park in three weeks with Orb looking to become only the 12th horse to secure the Triple Crown.
And he let slip how confident he was going into tonight's race when asked whether he was thinking about the Belmont Stakes.
"I'd be lying to you if I said I don't, because I do, but I'm trying to block it out," he said.
"I'm trying to take this thing one race at a time, but I just can't imagine how much fun it would be if that were to happen and to come back to New York."
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