BALTIMORE – Shug McGaughey worked as a trainer for more than 30 years before finally saddling his first Kentucky Derby winner.
It was worth the wait.
Speaking at Pimlico Race Course, where he will seek to win the Preakness with Orb, the 62-year-old McGaughey said, “I always said I wish I won the Derby when I was young so I wouldn’t have to worry about it anymore. I’m not sure that’s true now. If I had won in ’89 with Easy Goer, I don’t know if I’d appreciate it as much as I did this past Saturday.”
McGaughey and his horse have attracted much attention this week, for good reason. Coming off his solid win at Churchill Downs on May 4, Orb is in position to become the first Triple Crown winner since Affirmed in 1978.
With a victory, McGaughey can add a Preakness win to his suddenly blossoming resume. The last time he was a participant in the middle jewel of the Triple Crown, Easy Goer lost to Sunday Silence by a nose in 1989.
“As soon as I got here, it all came back to me – where I needed to be, where I was going,” he said. “I feel like I’m back on familiar ground, and I’m tickled to death to be here.”
McGaughey sent Orb to Baltimore from New York by van on Monday and was delighted to see his horse make a quick adjustment to his new surroundings.
“He had a lot of energy. I walked him a few turns and had to give him up,” McGaughey said Tuesday. “So far, so good. I worried a little bit (Monday) coming down here. But I’m glad we got in here while it’s still good and quiet. Everything is good.”