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Animal Kingdom May Be 33rd to Win First Two Triple Crown Legs

Animal Kingdom, the longshot winner of the Kentucky Derby, would join 32 other horses that have captured the first two legs of horse racing’s Triple Crown with a victory in today’s 136th Preakness Stakes.

The 3-year-old colt, the early 2-1 favorite in the $1 million Preakness at Baltimore’s Pimlico Race Course, would be the first Triple Crown contender since 2008, when Big Brown won the first two legs of the thoroughbred racing series before coming in ninth in the Belmont Stakes in New York.

Affirmed was the most recent of the 11 Triple Crown victors, winning in 1978.

Trainer Graham Motion has kept Animal Kingdom stabled at Fair Hill Training Center in Elkton, Maryland, rather than take a stall in the Pimlico barn. He planned to trailer the colt for the hour-long ride to the track this morning.

“It’s where we’re comfortable,” Motion said during a teleconference. “It’s where I’m comfortable having my horses, and I think it’s just a relaxing atmosphere for him and kind of keeps him out of the craziness a little bit.”

Fourteen horses will be covering the 1 3/16 miles in competition for the silver Woodlawn Vase, created by Tiffany & Co. in 1860 and valued at $1 million in 1983. Five of the starters ran in the Derby this year.

Jockey John Velazquez again will be aboard Animal Kingdom. Velazquez, who lost his Derby mount when Uncle Mo was scratched, picked up Animal Kingdom when the regular jockey, Robby Albarado, was kicked in the face earlier in the week.

“I’m just excited to have somebody ride the horse back to back,” Motion said. “He told me after the race, ‘I’ve never been as relaxed in a race of this magnitude as I was riding this race, and I think part of that is the horse.’”

Animal Kingdom, making his second appearance on a dirt track, will leave from the 11th post position with Dialed In, trainer Nick Zito’s Derby favorite, next in gate 10 at 9-2. Mucho Macho Man, third in the Derby, was made 6-1, running from the ninth post. Nehru, the runner-up in the Derby, isn’t entered in the Preakness.

PP Horse              Jockey             Trainer        Odds
1  Astrology          Mike Smith         Steve Asmussen 15-1
2  Norman Asbjomson   Julian Pimentel    Chris Grove    30-1
3  King Congie        Robby Albarado     Tom Albertrani 20-1
4  Flashpoint         Cornelio Velasquez Wesley Ward    20-1
5  Shackleford        Jesus Castanon     Dale Romans    12-1
6  Sway Away          Garrett Gomez      Jeff Bonde     15-1
7  Midnight Interlude Martin Garcia      Bob Baffert    15-1
8  Dance City         Ramon Dominguez    Todd Pletcher  12-1
9  Mucho Macho Man    Rajiv Maragh       Kathy Ritvo     6-1
10 Dialed In          Julien Leparoux    Nick Zito       9-2
11 Animal Kingdom     John Velazquez     Graham Motion   2-1
12 Isn’t He Perfect   Edgar Prado        D. Shivmangal  30-1
13 Concealed Identity Sheldon Russell    Eddie Gaudet   30-1
14 Mr. Commons        Victor Espinoza    John Shirreffs 20-1

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