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Poetry in Motion as Animal Kingdom Claims Kentucky Derby

Posted on May 11, 2011 by Rod Crowley

Graham Motion, the English born trainer of 2011 Kentucky Derby winner Animal Kingdom could hardly contain his surprise after his outsider hosed up in the ‘Race for the Roses’ in front of a record crowd of over 160,000 at Churchill Downs last weekend. Amazingly it was the horse’s first run on dirt having previously run all his races on turf.

Having only his fourth start, the huge Chestnut colt was only rated at around 20/1 to win America’s most prestigious race, but he looked every bit the winner when he began his surge down the final stretch of the ten furlong race. “It’s not something I ever expected to do,” said Motion a few hours after he had won the race, but he confirmed that the horse had come out of the race in great shape and that he would take his chance in the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico in three weeks time, for which he’ll sure to be favourite in the Preakness Stakes Odds given the manner of his Derby victory. Success in that race of course will put him in line to win the highly coveted American Triple Crown of horse racing, should he take part in the Belmont Stakes two weeks later.

The win was also a huge bonus for jockey, John Velazquz, who got the ride after the one time race favorite Uncle Mo was withdrawn from the race. It was Velaquez’s first win in the ‘Derby’ in thirteen previous attempts and he now looks like staying on the horse for the Preakness.

Winning the Preakness Stakes of course will not be an easy task, although, Motion, will be pleased it will be staged in his adopted State of Maryland and on a course where he has enjoyed considerable success. Indeed, Motion’s first ever winner as a trainer came at Pimlico in 1993. Lining up against him in the Preakness will be Mucho Macho Man and Shackleford who were third and fourth respectively in the ‘Derby’.

Also in the field will be Dialed In who started the Kentucky Derby as the race favourite but could only manage eighth place. However, his trainer, Nick Zito believes that he will improve hugely in that time and also revealed that by winning the Preakness, they would be in line for the $5.5m Preakness Bonus after qualifying for the bonus by winning the Florida Derby at Gulfstream Park last month. Clearly with a huge incentive like that then Dialed In will be flat out to deny Animal Kingdom further Triple Crown success.

The Aidan O’Brien entry from Ballydoyle, Master Of Hounds, put up a respectable performance in the race, finishing in fifth place around five lengths adrift of the winner. His jockey, Garratt Gomez has strongly suggested to O’Brien that the horse will improve for the Preakness, thus urging him to keep the horse over in the States and to take his chance in that race. His participation however has yet to be confirmed.

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