Graham Motion, trainer of Kentucky Derby winner Animal Kingdom, is unfazed by his colt’s outside post position for the 136th Preakness Stakes on Saturday, the New York Post reported Thursday.
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Animal Kingdom came away with No. 11 on Wednesday in the post-position draw at Baltimore’s Pimlico Race Course. He was set as the 2-1 morning-line favorite in a full field of 14.
"I would rather be outside than stuck down inside," Motion said. "I’m not sure he’ll be 2-1. Barry (Irwin, head of the Team Valor syndicate that bred and owns the Derby winner) thinks he’ll go off 8-5. There’s pressure being the favorite, but no more pressure than being here with the Derby winner, which is pretty extraordinary."
It will be only the third time since 1970 that a full field of 14 will contest the second jewel of the Triple Crown.
Most expect the early pace in the Preakness to be much quicker than the Derby, which saw the slowest half-mile and three-quarter-mile splits since 1947. Derby pace-setter Shackleford will likely face early pressure from Dance City and Flashpoint on Saturday.
The prospect of faster fractions promises to set things up for the closers such as Animal Kingdom.
"Absolutely," Irwin said. "That’s one of the amazing things about him winning the Derby, finishing as fast as he did on a slow pace like that. We would have thought he needed a (fast pace). He didn’t get one, and he won, anyway. That should concern the other people."
No one is praying for a faster pace more than Dialed In’s trainer, Hall of Famer Nick Zito, who felt his stretch-running colt was victimized by the Derby’s slow splits after dropping back to last.
"You don’t like to say, ‘Throw out the Derby,’ but a lot of horses have done that over the years," said Zito, whose only Preakness winner, Louis Quatorze in 1996, ran 16th in the Derby. "In (Dialed In’s) case, we didn’t get a break the way the race was run. A lot of people are starting to give him credit for the race he ran."
Dialed In, a fast-closing eighth as the favorite in the Run for the Roses, is the 9-2 second choice from post 10 in the Preakness, which is 1-3/16 miles.
Dialed In’s owner, Bob LaPenta, stands to collect a $5.5 million bonus if his colt wins, with $500,000 going to Zito. The bonus is offered by MI Developments, the company that owns Pimlico and Gulfstream Park, to the horse that can sweep the Holy Bull, Florida Derby and Preakness.
Adding the bonus to the winner’s $600,000 share of the Preakness’ $1 million purse, Dialed In could earn $6.1 million in less than two minutes, the largest single payday ever in North American racing.