Animal Kingdom confirmed for Belmont

Animal Kingdom confirmed for Belmont

Kentucky Derby (G1) winner and Preakness (G1) runner-up ANIMAL KINGDOM (Leroidesanimaux [Brz]) will run in the $1 million Belmont S. (G1) at Belmont Park on June 11, trainer Graham Motion said Friday.

"We just made the decision that he will be coming to the Belmont," said Motion, speaking from the training center at Fair Hill, Maryland, where Animal Kingdom has been stabled since finishing a half-length behind SHACKLEFORD (Forestry) in the second leg of racing's Triple Crown. "He bounced out of the Preakness very well and we are looking forward to running in the Belmont Stakes.

"He will probably come to Belmont Park the week leading up to race, depending on where we decide to have his final workout."

Animal Kingdom, a 2 3/4-length winner of the Kentucky Derby under jockey John Velazquez, will be bidding to become just the 12th horse in history to complete the Derby-Belmont double, a feat last accomplished in 1995 by Thunder Gulch, who was honored as that year's champion three-year-old colt.
Swale (1984), Bold Forbes (1976), Riva Ridge (1972), Chateaugay (1963), Needles (1956), Middleground (1950), Shut Out (1942), Johnstown (1939), Twenty Grand (1931) and Zev (1923) were the only others to win the first and last races in the Triple Crown.

Animal Kingdom just made the Derby field by capturing the Spiral S. (G3) at Turfway Park in his stakes debut one race prior to the Run for the Roses. Making his first start on conventional dirt track in the Kentucky Derby, the chestnut has thus far earned $1,938,700 for Team Valor International and is 3-3-0 in six lifetime starts.

The 1 1/2-mile Belmont, which will be run for the 143rd time as the oldest and longest leg of the series, is likely to feature a rematch between Animal Kingdom and Shackleford, which would mark the first Triple Crown rubber match since 2005, when Derby winner Giacomo finished seventh behind Preakness hero Afleet Alex.

A final decision on the Belmont participation of Shackleford will come after the colt arrives at Big Sandy. The sophomore is currently in training at Churchill Downs and galloped under the Twin Spires on Friday at 9:30 a.m.

Trainer Dale Romans said he'd firm the colt's travel plans to New York on Friday afternoon.

"It looks like he'll leave here for Belmont on Saturday or Sunday and I need to decide if he'll go by plane or van," Romans added.

Among others under consideration for the Belmont, which has a maximum field of 16, are Peter Pan S. (G2) winner ALTERNATION (Distorted Humor); Blue Grass S. (G1) hero BRILLIANT SPEED (Dynaformer), seventh last out in the Kentucky Derby; HARLAN'S HELLO (Harlan's Holiday), winner of a May 13 optional claimer at Belmont; ISN'T HE PERFECT (Pleasantly Perfect), ninth in the Preakness; Group 1-placed and U.A.E. Derby (UAE-G2) nose runner-up MASTER OF HOUNDS (Kingmambo), fifth in the Derby; Risen S. (G2) victor MUCHO MACHO MAN (Macho Uno), third in the Kentucky Derby and sixth in the Preakness; Count Fleet S. winner and Peter Pan sixth MONZON (Thunder Gulch); Kentucky Derby runner-up NEHRO (Mineshaft); PRIME CUT (Bernstein), third in the Peter Pan and second in the Lexington S. (G3); Sunland Derby (G3) third and Federico Tesio S. second RULER ON ICE (Roman Ruler); Grade 2 scorer SANTIVA (Giant's Causeway), sixth in the Kentucky Derby; and Gotham S. (G3) winner STAY THIRSTY (Bernardini), 12th in the Derby.

Trainer Bob Baffert may send AWESOME PATRIOT (Awesome Again) or UNCLE SAM (Tapit), the respective first two finishers in Hollywood Park's May 8 Alydar S., to the race.



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