BALTIMORE — Orb came up short in the Preakness, frustrating everyone who made the Kentucky Derby winner a 3-5 favorite — no one more than trainer Shug McGaughey.
‘‘I’m disappointed,’’ McGaughey said after Orb finished fourth and Oxbow pulled off the upset Saturday. ‘‘I’ll be more disappointed tomorrow than I am right now. I know the game. It is highs and lows. Probably more lows than highs.’’
McGaughey and Orb were certainly on a high in the two weeks since the Derby. The colt had trained sensationally ahead of the Preakness, fanning hopes that a horse was finally going to end the Triple Crown drought that dates to Affirmed in 1978.
Orb needed a Preakness win to set the stage for a Triple try three weeks later in the Belmont Stakes. He couldn’t deliver, despite the outpouring of support at Pimlico as fans cheered loudly when he led the post parade.
He never settled into a groove. Orb broke from the rail and didn’t seem comfortable being surrounded by horses.
In the Derby, Orb unleashed a breathtaking rally around the final turn, circling the field on a sloppy track to win by 2½ lengths.
But there was no explosive move in the Preakness, only a mild kick in the late stages to make a dull effort appear a little better than it was.
McGaughey, as gracious as he’s been throughout the Orb run, saluted fellow Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas on the victory.
“We had a great run two weeks ago,’’ McGaughey said. ‘‘My hats off to Wayne, winning his sixth Preakness. That’s a pretty remarkable record.’’
McGaughey will take Orb back to his home base at Belmont Park and figure out the next move. He is left with the feeling that something special slipped away.
‘‘I would be disappointed any time you had this kind of opportunity, and didn’t get it done,’’ he said.
Stevens is rewarded
Although no one really keeps track of such things, Gary Stevens had no problem making the assessment with complete conviction.
‘‘I guarantee I’m the first grandfather winner of a Triple Crown race,’’ said the 50-year-old Stevens, who guided Oxbow to the stunning upset in the Preakness.
Stevens retired in 2005 after a long struggle with knee pain. He resumed riding in early January, the same week he got a call from Lukas, who told him about a couple of promising 3-year-old colts who could make the Derby. One was Oxbow.
With Stevens riding confidently in the saddle, Oxbow covered the 1 3/16th miles in 1:57.54. The ride, Stevens said, was easier than it looked.
‘‘A lot of critics are going to think that I’m full of it saying this, but I won with a little something left, believe it or not,’’ Stevens said.
Napravnik falls short
Rosie Napravnik had to settle for a third-place finish in her first Preakness ride. Napravnik won her first career race at Pimlico and was hoping to become the first female in history to win the middle jewel of the Triple Crown. A poor start aboard Mylute spoiled the plan. ‘‘He was very sluggish out of the gate for the first quarter of a mile,’’ Napravnik said. “This was a tough pace to follow. But he ran great down the lane and closed well.’’ . . . Kevin Krigger finished fifth aboard Goldencents, falling short in his bid to become the first African-American jockey to win the Preakness since 1898. “He didn’t run his race today,’’ Krigger said of his horse . . . A crowd of 117,203 showed up at Pimlico on an overcast day. It was the fourth-largest attendance in the history of the Preakness.