Rarely do I engage in the art of hyperbole.

It's a difficult chore for me to embrace a sappy, feel-good, tugging on the heartstrings-storyline that brings together the best in sports and in people.

Which is why I'm quite frankly just as surprised to be typing these words into my Dell Inspiron as you are at reading them in a newspaper column.

This weekend, I'm actually rooting for Orb.

Note my choice of words here. I'm cheering for the Kentucky Derby winner to win the Preakness this Saturday at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore, Md.

I'm not necessarily wagering on him, but I will be cheering for him to win.

And it's safe to say, if Orb proves victorious in the Preakness this weekend, then I'll also be cheering for him to win the Belmont.

Such a task would mean that the sport of thoroughbred racing would see its 12th Triple Crown winner and its first since Affirmed in 1978.

I didn't share this sentiment last year when I'll Have Another won the Derby and Preakness.

I was equally non-committal when it came to the Triple Crown chances for Big Brown in 2008, Smarty Jones in 2004, Funny Cide in 2003 and War Emblem in 2002.

In preparation for writing this column, I was reminded of the tale of Charismatic, the Derby and Preakness winner in 1999 who also failed to complete the rare sweep of the classic races.

Charismatic, for trainer D. Wayne Lukas and rider Chris Antley, was the last Triple Crown possibility that I remember actually wanting to see get the job completed.

Then, and now, it wasn't so much a story about a great horse that I was cheering for. It was the connections, the people involved, from the owners, trainer, grooms and jockey.

In 1999, the racing world was seeing Lukas at his absolute masterful best. Charismatic was owned by an elite racing family in Bob and Beverly Lewis. The son of Summer Squall was actually entered in a claiming race earlier in his career before pulling off a stunning upset in the Run for the Roses.

Little did we know at the time that Lukas, a four-time Derby winner and member of racing's Hall of Fame, would never win another Derby after Charismatic, but the story of this colt was only beginning to take on legendary status after he validated that Derby win with an emphatic score in the Preakness two weeks later.

Antley, one of the finest riders in the eyes of this writer, was a man who possessed both genuine talent and genuine demons.

A winner of the 1991 Kentucky Derby aboard Strike The Gold, Antley was a riding machine late in his teenage years. In 1985, at the age of 18, Antley won the most races of any American-based jockey with 469.

Antley was also a troubled man, who spent much of the late 1980's in rehab clinics dealing with substance abuse. Later in his career, before he found himself aboard Charismatic, Antley had briefly retired to deal with drug problems and assorted weight issues.

Thus, with all the storylines at play in that 1989 Belmont Stakes, Charismatic was a genuine story that you wanted to see win the Belmont and take the Triple Crown.

Instead, Charismatic battled valiantly to the deep stretch before he wound up finishing third behind longshot Lemon Drop Kid.

Moments after crossing the wire at Belmont Park, Charismatic suffered an injury and was quickly pulled up by Antley, who instinctively jumped off the colt and held his front left leg in place while awaiting on-track veterinarians.

It's easily one of the most compelling visuals I have of watching horse racing in my career.

Antley's career spiraled out of control the following year before he took his own life at his home in Pasadena, Calif.

None of those other recent near-misses in Triple Crown history had those compelling storylines. In my eyes, they weren't worthy of having their names etched in history books like Citation, War Admiral, Count Fleet, Affirmed, Seattle Slew and Secretariat.

Maybe I'm a cynic (yes, we all know I am a cynic), but it almost seemed as if adding one of those other names would cheapen the luster of the Triple Crown. 

Fast forward to today.

The human connections of Orb are equally as compelling as those of Charismatic.

The Phipps family racing stables is nearly 90 years old. They have owned and bred multiple champions, including Bold Ruler, who won the 1957 Preakness Stakes and would later produce Secretariat for Claiborne Farms.

For all their accomplishments, the Phipps family had never won a Kentucky Derby.
Until now.

Trainer Shug McGaughey finally got redemption for Easy Goer's epic runner-up performances to Sunday Silence in the 1989 Derby and Preakness. McGaughey had said for years afterwards he would only run a horse in the Derby if that horse belonged there.

Mission accomplished.

Jockey Joel Rosario is a 28-year wunderkin. In the past six years since arriving stateside from the Dominican Republic, Rosario has seen his place on the national earnings list of top riders rise from 81st in the country in 2007 to 5th in 2012.

Rosario is well on his way to being the richest rider in the world this year, with victories aboard Orb in the Derby and aboard Animal Kingdom in the $10 million Dubai World Cup. He is brilliant, fearless and young. He is the embodiment of a rider whose potential is still being discovered.

One would think Antley would be proud.

So, before we get all teary-eyed and sentimental here, before we throw all caution to the wind and proclaim this a Triple Crown for the ages, let's first get Orb into the winners' circle on Saturday.

If that does happen, I'll be the first one to admit that three weeks from now, on that June 8 afternoon, I'll have a handkerchief ready in case we see the first Triple Crown winner in 35 years.

It will indeed be well-deserved.

Steve Bortstein is the host of “First Sports” & “The Fast Track” on FOX SPORTS AM1340/93.9FM. Bortstein also serves as paddock show host at SunRay Park and Casino and is a voting member of the National Thoroughbred Racing Association.