BALTIMORE - Stuart Janney III noticed a text from Seth Hancock at 6 a.m. on Kentucky Derby Day.
It said: "If your day ends as well as it's begun today, you will remember this day for the rest of your life."
At 4:40 a.m. that morning, a filly out of a mare Janney owns was born at Hancock's Claiborne Farm in Paris, Ky.
Janney's day ended with Orb, the colt he co-owns with his cousin Dinny Phipps, in the Kentucky Derby winner's circle.
If Orb ends up in the Preakness winner's circle today, the only day that could top the first two would be if Orb wins the June 8 Belmont Stakes and the elusive Triple Crown, unclaimed for 34 years.
Trainer Shug McGaughey certainly thinks Orb will win. He has the best horse and the hottest jockey. Joel Rosario could not have ridden Orb any better in the Derby. The rider's confidence has been tremendous since March 30, when he won the $10 million Dubai World Cup on Animal Kingdom.
"It gave him a worldwide recognition," said Rosario's agent, Ron Anderson. "People that hadn't heard of him before, all of a sudden he's on the big stage on the big night. When a guy gets on a roll and gets confidence like this kid, he could jump on the pony at the barn and think he can win a race. It's a lot of confidence, making the right decisions. He's a very special kid."
Riding a very special horse.
They do not, however, give away the Preakness. Orb will have eight other horses in the gate with him. Mylute (fifth beaten by almost 5 lengths in the Derby) was the closest horse to Orb in Louisville that will run back at Pimlico. The horse's rider is Rosie Napravnik, the 25-year-old who went to work on a horse farm in Baltimore County in the summer of 2004 and then rode and won with her first mount on June 9, 2005. That too was at Pimlico.
"The Preakness is just as high up on my list as the Derby to win," Napravnik said. "It would probably mean the most to me to win at Pimlico, where I started out and have all the original supporters, the people who really got me going."
A Morristown, N.J. native, Napravnik is one of the nation's best jockeys, the leading rider at the Fair Grounds in New Orleans the last three meets. In 2013, she is fifth nationally in earnings and third in wins.
Mylute or several of the others could win. Orb should win.
Orb has been running in Janney's silks because of an agreement he made with his uncle, Ogden Phipps, when they formed a partnership. The deal stood even after Phipps' death, when his son Dinny became the partner.
"Your father knew he'd won every race there was," Janney told Dinny after the Derby. "He didn't want any more trophies With the Kentucky Derby, he'd never won it; you'd never won it. So if you want to get a second trophy, I'll pay for half of it."
Janney's parents, who owned the legendary filly Ruffian, had the 1988 Derby favorite in Private Terms. The horse, however, finished ninth. Now, Orb has the Derby for the family.
"It's what they tried to accomplish," Janney said. "It's just a continuation of what they tried to get done. It took a little longer, but that's fine. I really loved coming [to Kentucky] for Private Terms because my father was getting older and he was relying more and more on me to do the simple things.
"My father was a very able, very independent man. I loved the fact that he looked to me to take care of some stuff for him . . . This, to me, is a great affirmation of what they did."
And the Preakness at Pimlico, 15 miles south of the Janneys' Baltimore County home, would be even a further affirmation.
More than 16 million watched the Derby on NBC, the second-most watched Derby since 1989. It is estimated the 52 percent of the viewers were women, the only annual sporting event that gets more female than male viewers.
The Preakness is a great race on its own merits, but what makes it unique is that is the first time the Derby winner enters a starting gate. It is the race in which everybody finds out whether this is just another Derby winner or a horse with a chance at greatness.