Preparing For Preakness


A full field of 14, headed by Kentucky Derby champ Animal Kingdom, is lining up for the May 21 Preakness Stakes, and this year there is a value-added twist to the Pimlico classic.

While Animal Kingdom guns for the second jewel of the Triple Crown, Dialed In, eighth as the 5-1 favorite in the Derby, is staring at a $5.5 million payday.

The "Preakness 5.5" bonus is offered to the horse who can win either the Holy Bull or Fountain of Youth at Gulfstream, the Florida Derby and the Preakness.

If Dialed In, winner of the Holy Bull and Florida Derby, completes the sweep, owner Robert LaPenta pockets $5 million, with $500,000 going to trainer Nick Zito.

"We love Pimlico and look forward to another shot," said Zito, who won the Preakness in 1996 with Louis Quatorze after he finished 16th in the Derby.

Zito knew Dialed In was in trouble the first time past the stands in the Derby, when the Mineshaft colt was trailing the field after getting squeezed at the break.

"He was too far back, the pace was slow, and the little guy would have to be Secretariat to win," Zito said. "He still came with his run [closing the last half-mile in :47.02 seconds]. He came home faster than the winner, which means a lot. Hopefully he'll benefit from that. Sometimes when you wheel them back [in two weeks], it helps."

Animal Kingdom will leave Churchill Downs tomorrow and ship to trainer Graham Motion's base at the Fair Hill training center in Elkton, Md., about an hour north of Baltimore. He might not ship to Pimlico until the day before the race.

"I feel really good because we are coming to the next leg with a fresh horse, which is going to be in our favor," Motion said.

Of the other Derby starters, Mucho Macho Man (third at 9-1) and pacesetter Shackleford (fourth at 23-1) are definites for the Preakness. Owner Ahmed Zayat hasn't ruled out 8-1 runner-up Nehro.

"If you looked at him right now, you'd think you'd be out of your mind not to run in Baltimore," Zayat said yesterday morning. "[But] it's more probable we'd aim for the Belmont."

Nehro's trainer, Steve Asmussen, who won the Preakness with Curlin (2007) and Rachel Alexandra (2009), will run Astrology, second in the April 23 Jerome at Aqueduct.

Bob Baffert, a five-time Preakness winner, won't make a decision on Midnight Interlude (16th in the Derby) or The Factor (winner of the Rebel) until next weekend.

Potential new shooters are Concealed Identity (winner, Federico Tesio); Dance City (third, Arkansas Derby); Flashpoint (fourth, Florida Derby); King Congie (third, Blue Grass); Mr. Commons (third, Santa Anita Derby); Norman Asbjornson (fourth, Wood Memorial); Prime Cut (second, Lexington Stakes); Saratoga Red (10th, Arkansas Derby) and Sway Away (fourth, Arkansas Derby).

by Ed Fountaine


Pimlico officials said on May 8 that as many as four starters from the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) could gather in Baltimore on May 21 for the Preakness Stakes (gr. I) and that the interests of nine other horses who did not compete in the Derby have expressed interest in contesting the Preakness.

Trainer Graham Motion informed Pimlico officials, including track president Tom Chuckas, that he is 'excited' about the chances of Derby winner Animal Kingdom in the middle leg of the Triple Crown. Chuckas called Motion shortly after his appearance on NBC's 'Today' show to congratulate the Maryland-based conditioner on his Derby victory with the Team Valor International homebred and to personally invite him to the Preakness.

'We certainly plan to be there,' Motion said. 'It is going to be exciting. I feel really good because we are coming to the next leg with a fresh horse, which is going to be in our favor.'

Motion said the plan is to ship Animal Kingdom from Louisville, Ky. to the Fair Hill Training Center on Tuesday, May 10. The colt is scheduled to return to the track at Fair Hill, located about 60 miles from Pimlico, on Wednesday morning. Motion, 46, has not decided when his star will ship to Pimlico but said it will be 'fairly last minute'.

A native of England, who moved to the U.S. with his family at the age of 16, Motion has been involved in Maryland racing for 26 years. He worked for Jonathan Sheppard and Bernie Bond before going out on his own in 1993. He was among the top 10 trainers in Maryland from 1995-2001 and was based at Laurel Park for the first 10 years of his career before moving his stable to the Fair Hill Training Center in 2002.

Animal Kingdom will be Motion's fourth Preakness starter. He finished third in 2008 with Icabad Craneand also saddled Bay Eagle (2001, 8th) and Equality (2002, 13th) in Maryland's signature race.

The Preakness is expected to feature three of the top four finishers from Saturday's Run For The Roses, as well as betting favorite Dialed In, trained by Hall of Famer Nick Zito. Trainers Kathy Ritvo of third-place finisher Mucho Macho Man and Dale Romans, conditioner of Shackleford, who finished fourth, said they are planning to run in the Preakness.

Trainer Steve Asmussen, who has lifted the Woodlawn Vase twice in the last four years with Curlin (2007) and Rachel Alexandra (2009), told Pimlico racing officials that no decision has been made on the Derby runner-up, Nehro. However, Asmussen confirmed Preakness plans for Astrology, who finished second in the Jerome Stakes in his last start and has never been out of the money in seven career outings.

Hall of Famer Bob Baffert, who has saddled five Preakness winners, indicated the status of Midnight Interlude(16th, Kentucky Derby) and Grade II Rebel Stakes winner The Factor would not be made until next weekend.

Connections from nine other runners, who did not compete in the Derby, have also expressed interest in the Preakness. The potential new shooters, in alphabetical order, are Concealed Identity, Dance City, Flashpoint, King Congie, Mr. Commons, Norman Asbjornson, Prime Cut, Saratoga Red, and Sway Away.

The Preakness is limited to 14 starters.



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