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Belmont gets familiar foes as early favorites

NEW YORK — The 1-2 finishers in the Kentucky Derby are 1-2 on the morning line for the Belmont Stakes.

Derby winner Animal Kingdom was made the 2-1 favorite for Saturday's final leg of the Triple Crown, with Derby runnerup Nehro the second choice at 4-1.

Preakness winner Shackleford was next at 9-2 when a field of 12 was entered Wednesday for the first rubber match between a Derby winner and Preakness winner since 2005.

Animal Kingdom, with John Velazquez riding, leaves from the No. 9 post, which has produced only four Belmont winners since 1905. The colt trained by Graham Motion is attempting to become the 12th to complete a Derby-Belmont sweep. The last to succeed was Thunder Gulch in 1995.

"It doesn't change anything for us," Motion said of the post position. "I don't think it's going to take him out of his game."

Shackleford, with jockey Jesus Castanon aboard, will try to become the first Belmont winner out of the No. 12 post. The colt trained by Dale Romans also is attempting to become the 22nd Preakness-Belmont winner.

"In a mile-and-a-half race, the post position isn't that important," Romans said. "With No. 12, he'll be the last one in and the first one out."

Nehro, with Corey Nakatani riding, has finished second in his past three starts. The colt drew the No. 6 position.

Softies: The co-owner of Affirmed, the last Triple Crown winner, says horses used to be tougher. Patrice Wolfson co-owned the colt with her late husband, Lewis. Their 1978 Triple Crown was the third in six years, following Secretariat (1973) and Seattle Slew (1977). There hasn't been one since. "I believe horses were tougher years ago," said Wolfson, guest of honor for the Belmont post-position news conference. "Today you have people say, 'I need three or four weeks.' Back then that was considered a long time between races."

PP Horse Jockey Trainer Odds

1. Master of Hounds Garrett Gomez Aidan O'Brien 10-1

2. Stay Thirsty Javier Castellano Todd Pletcher 20-1

3. Ruler On Ice Jose Valdivia Kelly Breen 20-1

4. Santiva Shaun Bridgmohan Eddie Kenneally 15-1

5. Brilliant Speed Joel Rosario Tom Albertrani 15-1

6. Nehro Corey Nakatani Steven Asmussen 4-1

7. Monzon Jose Lezcano Ignacio Correas 30-1

8. Prime Cut Edgar Prado Neil Howard 15-1

9. Animal Kingdom John Velazquez Graham Motion 2-1

10. Mucho Macho Man Ramon Dominguez Kathy Ritvo 10-1

11. Isn't He Perfect Rajiv Maragh Doodnauth 30-1 Shivmangal

12. Shackleford Jesus CastanonDale Romans 9-2

.FAST FACTS

143rd Belmont Stakes

Saturday, 6:30 post time, Belmont Park, Elmont, N.Y. TV: Ch. 8

Belmont gets familiar foes as early favorites 06/08/11 [Last modified: Wednesday, June 8, 2011 8:39pm]
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