Animal Kingdom Seeks to Reinforce Derby Win at Preakness

The Preakness 2011 odds and draw are pretty much set to go for Saturday afternoon. Everyone agrees that Animal Kingdom is the favorite, if only because he won the Kentucky Derby. But just because he is the favorite doesn’t mean that he will win, keeping Triple Crown hopes alive for the year. In fact, since Animal Kingdom was a long shot to win the Derby, fans have to wonder if he can repeat his success at the Preakness with a bulls-eye on his back.

The odds for a Triple Crown in 2011 were long from the start, since the Derby had such a wide open field. Since no one was a solid favorite to win at Churchill Downs, there was no real favorite to win at Pimlico and the Belmont either. Therefore, it was fitting that a 20-1 underdog in Animal Kingdom ultimately won two weeks ago.

The victory was the horse’s first on a dirt track, and now he has to win two more in a row in the next three weeks. Yet he overcame more than inexperience at Kentucky, pulling away with last-minute jockey John Velazquez, who replaced injured Robby Albarado. Now that Animal Kingdom and Velazquez have had more time together, the hope is that they will be even stronger next time out.

For over 30 years, horse racing has looked for a Triple Crown winner and come up short countless times. More hyped up horses like Alysheba, Silver Charm, Smarty Jones and Big Brown couldn’t seal the deal, so it might be more fitting if an unknown like Animal Kingdom finally pulled it off.

This sort of threat used to be very common; 10 horses won the first two Triple Crown races from 1994 to 2005, according to Horse Race Insider. But in the last five years, only Big Brown came close in 2008, so this current era is more used to Derby winners flaming out in Pimlico.

If Animal Kingdom is going to buck that new trend, he must once again beat the likes of Mucho Macho Man, Shackleford and Dialed In. In addition, new threats like Dance City are in the mix, after being unable to challenge at Churchill Downs.

The post position favors the Derby champ, since he is in the No. 11 spot, which is near where he started at Kentucky. Trainer Graham Motion “couldn’t be happier” to have a similar position, according to CSN Baltimore, as it may be a promising omen. But now that everyone knows who Animal Kingdom is, and knows what he may try to do, will he get away with sneaking up on everyone again?

Long-suffering fans, and the sport itself, will be on edge to find out when the Preakness goes off late Saturday afternoon.

Sources

USA TODAY- “Animal Kingdom looking for a little more respect”

Horse Race Insider- “Triple Crown Near Misses”

CSN Baltimore- “Animal Kingdom 2-1 favorite for Preakness”