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Derby winner named early 2-1 favorite for Preakness

BALTIMORE — Things are falling nicely into place for Kentucky Derby winner Animal Kingdom.

He's training in the Maryland countryside, he has been made the early 2-1 favorite for the Preakness Stakes and he drew a decent post for Saturday's race.

"It's great. I couldn't be happier," trainer Graham Motion said after his colt landed in the No. 11 post Wednesday.

A full field of 14 is set for the 13/16-mile Preakness at Pimlico, located about 60 miles from Fair Hill Training Center, where Animal Kingdom will be until the morning of the race.

It will be the first time since 2005 that 14 horses are set to run in the second leg of the Triple Crown series, five fewer horses than ran in the Derby.

"I would just rather be on the outside than stuck down on the inside. I was a little worried when 1 and 14 were still left," Motion said.

Two winners since 1926 have come out of the No. 11 post, the last being Point Given trained by Bob Baffert in 2001.

Seventy favorites have won in the previous 135 runnings, including 2009 champion Rachel Alexandra and Big Brown, the 1-5 favorite in '08.

"Now we're a pretty solid favorite. It feels great," said Barry Irwin, who represents the 20 people who own Animal Kingdom under the partnership of Team Valor International.

John Velazquez is keeping his mount on Animal Kingdom after replacing injured Robby Albarado the day before the Derby. Albarado picked up a Preakness mount with King Congie.

Dialed In, the beaten Derby favorite, is the 9-2 second choice of the oddsmakers. The colt drew the No. 10 post. Dialed In finished eighth in the Derby nearly two weeks ago. "I don't think it matters with him because of his style of running," trainer Nick Zito said about Dialed In's post.

In a jockey switch, Martin Garcia replaces Victor Espinoza on Santa Anita Derby winner Midnight Interlude. Espinoza will ride California invader Mr. Commons, who will break from the No. 14 post.

Native gets the call: Larry Collmus might be a little choked up Saturday when the band plays Maryland, My Maryland as the horses step out for the post parade.

The Maryland native will call the state's premier race for the first time. Collmus replaced Tom Durkin this year as the voice of the Triple Crown on NBC.

"It's sort of real and sort of surreal," he said. "I haven't called a race here in 25 years, and now I'm going to call the Preakness. That's pretty cool, as good as it gets. The great part is getting the Kentucky Derby out of the way. Now, it's like old home week."

He is currently the announcer for Gulfstream Park in Hallandale Beach in the winter while working summers at Monmouth Park in New Jersey.

FIRST IN: Mucho Macho Man was the first of the Preakness horses to arrive at Pimlico on Wednesday, checking in following a van ride from New York's Belmont Park. Several other runners trickled in throughout the day. Trainer Kathy Ritvo was pleased with accommodations for her colt. "The stalls are huge, and there is grass on the other side," she said.

>> facts

136th Preakness Stakes

What: Second race of the Triple Crown

When/where: Saturday; Pimlico Race Course, Baltimore

Post time: Expected to be 6:19 p.m. (Ch. 8, 1010-AM)

Derby winner named early 2-1 favorite for Preakness 05/18/11 [Last modified: Wednesday, May 18, 2011 10:12pm]
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