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Down and dirty not for Animal Kingdom

Kentucky Derby winner Animal Kingdom bites at assistant trainer Dan Rock after arriving at Pimlico on race morning.

Associated Press

Kentucky Derby winner Animal Kingdom bites at assistant trainer Dan Rock after arriving at Pimlico on race morning.

BALTIMORE — 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. Though the 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 make up the difference.

"When the dirt hit him, he reacted to it (Saturday) 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. (Saturday) 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."

BAFFERT WAS RIGHT: Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert looked concerned as he patrolled the stakes barn at Pimlico 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, he had five winners, including Lookin At Lucky last year.

In this case, his uncertainty about his entrant, Midnight Interlude, was right.

"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. "I'm being more hopeful than anything else."

Midnight Interlude faded from third to 13th.

BIG DAY: Beautiful weather — sunshine and temperatures in the 80s — helped draw a crowd of 107,398, sixth largest in Preakness history. The handle was $76,376,689, seventh most in the race's history.

.Fast facts

Belmont Stakes

What: Triple Crown finale

When/where: June 4;

Belmont Park, Elmont, N.Y.

Down and dirty not for Animal Kingdom 05/21/11 [Last modified: Saturday, May 21, 2011 10:55pm]
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