Animal Kingdom very close, but can't win Preakness
Animal Kingdom trainer Graham Motion had no complaints about finishing second in the Preakness - even if the close call ruined his dream of winning the Triple Crown.
Animal Kingdom, the Kentucky Derby winner, came from far back to make a run at Shackleford on Saturday in the Preakness. Although the late charge came up short, Motion was anything but despondent.
''It's tough to come that close, but he ran a huge race,'' Motion said. ''I'm thrilled with how he ran.''
Animal Kingdom rallied to beat Shackleford in the Derby, but in this race jockey John Velazquez was too far back to completely make up the difference.
''When the dirt hit him he reacted to it today and kind of backed up,'' Velazquez said. ''At Churchill Downs, I was so close to the horses in front of me, and not much dirt was hitting him. Today, he broke so far back it was hitting him in the face and he reacted right away. In the Derby, the dirt was hitting him in the chest.''
Motion would have preferred a different ending, but he almost certainly walked away from Pimlico with his head held high.
''Shoot, we won the Derby and we just got beat in the Preakness,'' he said. ''I would love to win a Triple Crown, as much for me as for everybody else. ... But it wasn't meant to be. The horse ran a great race. He did nothing wrong.''
BAFFERT WAS RIGHT: Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert wore a look of concern as he patrolled the stakes barn at Pimlico some nine hours before the Preakness.
Baffert usually exudes confidence on race day, and in most cases it's justified. Of the 11 previous times he had a horse in the Preakness, the Hall of Fame trainer had five winners, including Point Given in 2001 and Lookin At Lucky last year.
In this case, his uncertainty about his Preakness entrant, Midnight Interlude, was right.
''I have a different feeling this time. I've never come in here with a horse that ran poorly in the Derby,'' Baffert said, referring to the horse's 16th-place finish at Churchill Downs. ''I'm being more hopeful than anything else.''
His hopes were dashed when Midnight Interlude faded from third to 13th.
Before the race, Baffert indicated the result would probably determine the horse's future.
''If he doesn't run well today, then he's probably a grass horse,'' Baffert said. ''He's bred for the grass; maybe that's what it is.''
ZITO DENIED: With a win at the Preakness, Dialed In would have secured a $6.1 million payday - including $500,000 for trainer Nick Zito.
Dialed In is known for his ability to close, and he did just that Saturday. But, after falling into 14th place at the 3/4-pole, his standard rally was only good for fourth.
''It didn't work out,'' Zito said. ''He still came with his run, like he always does. He's a gallant horse.''
On this day, however, Dialed In had too big a deficit to overcome.
''I finally got through the second turn and was ready to make his run, but it wasn't enough,'' jockey Julien Leparoux said. ''He ran good, but his style sometimes works against him.''
BIG DAY: Beautiful weather, a spirited commercial campaign and the prospect of an anything-goes race combined to draw a huge crowd at Pimlico.
Attendance was 107,398, the sixth-largest throng in Preakness history.
The handle was $76,376,689 - seventh-most in the history of the race.