BALTIMORE - Another year, another Triple Crown hopeful unable to come through.
After Oxbow, ridden by 50-year-old Hall of Famer Gary Stevens, upset Kentucky Derby winner Orb in Saturday's Preakness to extend racing's Triple Crown drought to 36 years, the next best alternative for the Belmont Stakes is a rematch.
And, it appears one is in the making. Both trainers are giving every indication their classic-winning colts will run in the Belmont on June 8.
"You know me," Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas said after Oxbow's 13/4-length victory over Itsmyluckyday, with 3-5 favorite Orb finishing fourth. "I like to rack them up in the big events. So, I'll probably go."
Trainer Shug McGaughey says he'd like to run Orb in the Belmont as long as the colt is doing well.
"The Belmont Stakes is on our radar screen," McGaughey said Sunday after arriving back at Belmont Park and checking on his Derby winner, who was transported back earlier in the day.
After a talk with Orb's owners Ogden Mills "Dinny" Phipps and Stuart Janney III, McGaughey said, "We just all came to the conclusion that we should just watch Orb and see. I think everything is in good shape. We'd like to run.
"But yesterday took a little bit out of him and he's already run five times this year and it's only the middle of May. I'd sure like to have him fresh for Saratoga and a Jim Dandy/Travers kind of a go."
A year ago, there was great anticipation for a Triple try after I'll Have Another won the Derby and Preakness, but the colt was scratched the day before the Belmont because of a tendon injury.
The most recent of 20 rematches between classic winners in the Belmont was two years ago, with Derby winner Animal Kingdom and Preakness winner Shackleford hooking up - but 24-1 long shot Ruler On Ice pulled the upset.
Hours after Oxbow's win at 15-1 odds gave Lukas his record 14th Triple Crown race win - and sixth Preakness - the trainer and his colt where on the road back to Churchill Downs.
If both show up for the 11/2-mile Belmont, a formidable lineup of challengers could be waiting. Todd Pletcher has five possible starters: Derby runners Revolutionary (3d), Overanalyze (11th) and Palace Malice (12th), as well as a pair of fillies in Dreaming of Julia and Unlimited Budget.
Other possibles include Derby runner-up Golden Soul, Mylute (fifth in the Derby, third in the Preakness), Freedom Child, Power Broker, and Code West.
McGaughey was disappointed he couldn't follow up his first Derby win with his first Preakness victory, but said, "Winning the Derby was my lifetime dream and we won it. I would have loved to have won yesterday and taken it to the next level."
Lukas, meanwhile, won his first Triple Crown race since 2000, when Commendable won the Belmont. Since that win, he was 0 for 31 in 22 Triple Crown races before Saturday.
"I still enjoy doing this so much," Lukas said.