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Kentucky Derby and Horse Racing at The Downey Profile®

McGaughey Selective with Derby Starters

3/14/2013

After 11 years without a starter in the Kentucky Derby, Shug McGaughey isn’t one to be affected by Derby Fever. But, he said, he can't help but be excited about the prospect of running Orb this year.

“Like I said after the Fountain of Youth, I wake up every morning thinking of winning the Kentucky Derby. I wish I’d won it a long time ago so I wouldn’t have to worry about it anymore,” McGaughey said. “The reason I don’t get Derby Fever is that I want to take the right horse. Maybe I made a mistake or two not taking them, but I really can’t look back and say that I did. I’m looking forward to the experience."

McGaughey is also "looking forward to two Saturdays from now,” when Orb will go in the Grade I Florida Derby. Another win there would be icing on the Derby points cake because Orb already picked up 50 in the Fountain of Youth. The son of Malibu Moon will seek his fourth straight victory in the Florida Derby, but it wasn't always evident he'd be this talented. Not at this stage, anyway.

“Not that I didn’t think that he had a chance to be a decent horse, but it’s just how quick he’s become a decent horse,” McGaughey said. “After he broke his maiden, he just put it all together. Winning and growing up and getting his gate experience behind him, it just sort of mentally came together.”

After breaking his maiden at Aqueduct on Nov. 24 in his fourth start, Orb captured a 1 1/8-mile allowance, followed by his half-length upset over heavily favored Violence in the Fountain of Youth on Feb. 23.

McGaughey had a similar experience of a 3-year-old suddenly coming into its own at Gulfstream Park in 1997 with Glitter Woman

“I had a filly one time who had finished second and third in stakes as a 2-year-old and when I put blinkers on her and brought her down here, she won everything she ran in,” McGaughey said. Glitter Woman captured the Grade III Forward Gal, Grade III Davona Dale and Grade II Bonnie Miss at Gulfstream before capturing the Grade I Ashland at Keeneland.

Easy Goer finished second behind Sunday Silence in both the Derby and Preakness Stakes before winning the Belmont Stakes in 1989 for McGaughey. The trainer has saddled only six horses in the Kentucky Derby since 1984 -- and none since 2002, when Saarland finished tenth.

Edited Gulfstream Park release with additional content by Dick Downey
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