Animal Kingdom tops field of 14


Animal Kingdom, winner of the 2011 Kentucky Derby, will break from post 11 as the 2-1 morning line favorite for the $1 million Preakness Stakes at Pimlico Race Course on Saturday.

A full field of 14 was entered May 18 for the 1 3/16-mile test of 3-year-olds. It is the largest field entered for the second jewel of the Triple Crown since 2005, when Afleet Alex won over 13 rivals. Post time is set for 6:15 p.m. EDT and the race will be shown live on NBC.

Trained by Graham Motion for Team Valor International, Animal Kingdom will be ridden by John Velazquez. The chestnut son of Leroidesanimaux won the Derby by 2 3/4 lengths at odds of 20-1 to give his connections their first Derby triumph. If he wins the Preakness, Animal Kingdom will likely head to the June 11 Belmont Stakes in an attempt to become the first Triple Crown winner since Affirmed in 1978.

"It looks like it's going to be a real good pace," said Team Valor president Barry Irwin said. "Our horse won with a moderate pace (in the Kentucky Derby), and if there's any kind of pace in the Preakness, he should be hard to handle."

Dialed In, the beaten Kentucky Derby favorite, is the 9-2 second choice of Pimlico oddsmaker Frank Carulli. The colt drew the No. 10 post and will again be ridden by Julien Leparoux. Dialed In finished eighth in the Derby nearly two weeks ago. He won the Grade 3 Holy Bull and Grade 1 Florida Derby earlier this season.

"The post was good, said trainer Nick Zito, who won the Preakness in 1996 with Louis Quartorze. "The biggest thing for him is to get position and be in the clear so he can make his run. I still think Dialed In is the best 3-year-old in the country."

If Dialed In pulls the minor upset, in addition to the $600,000 winner's share, he will earn a $5.5 million bonus from MI Developments for winning the Holy Bull, Florida Derby, and Preakness.

Mucho Macho Man, third in the Derby, is 6-1 and will break from the No. 9 post. Both jockey and trainer, Rajiv Maragh and Kathy Ritvo, will be making their Preakness debuts.

Also coming out of the Derby are Shackleford (post 5, 12-1) and Midnight Interlude (post 7, 15-1). Shackleford, trained by Dale Romans, was runner-up to Dialed In in the Florida Derby. Midnight Interlude was the upset victor of the Grade 1 Santa Anita Derby.

Midnight Interlude's trainer Bob Baffert is hopeful that his horse will give a better showing than he did in the Derby. Baffert has won the Preakness five times, including last year with Lookin At Lucky.

"I really don't know what happened in the Derby; he just didn't run well," Baffert said. "If he hadn't trained well since then, I wouldn't have brought him here. But he had a really good work the other day. He had a lot of snap. I liked what I saw so we brought him and we'll see what happens."

New shooters include Arkansas Derby third-place finisher Dance City (post 8, 12-1), who will look to hand Todd Pletcher his first Preakness win, and Hutcheson Stakes winner Flashpoint (post 4, 20-1). Both are expected to be part of the early pace. This will be Flashpoint's first start for trainer Wesley Ward, who recently took over training for Rick Dutrow Jr.

Longshots in the field are Astrology (post 1, 15-1) Norman Asbjornson (post 2, 30-1), King Congie (post 3, 20-1), Sway Away(post 6, 15-1), Isn't He Perfect (post 12, 30-1), Concealed Identity (post 13, 30-1), and Mr. Commons (post 14, 20-1).