BALTIMORE — Graham Motion knows what it means to come to Baltimore with the Kentucky Derby winner. He saddled Animal Kingdom, a 2-1 morning-line favorite in 2011.
"There's nothing like it," he said. "The Derby is the Derby, but going to Preakness is special. There's just nothing cooler than being in that spot."
Motion has been one of Maryland's most successful trainers since 1995, though he now works out of the Fair Hill Training Center in Elkton. He kept Animal Kingdom at the training center until the day of the race, opting for the peace and quiet instead of acclimating the horse to Pimlico.
Animal Kingdom finished second by half-length, unable to catch Shackleford.
Motion doesn't regret any training decisions he made, although he would have given jockey John Velazquez, who will ride Itsmyluckyday this year, different feedback.
"I told Johnny that he was really sharp and then he didn't break from the gate well, and that cost him the race," Motion said. "I wish sometimes I hadn't said anything. I don't know if it would have made any difference."
Motion, who has nine horses entered in today's and Saturday's races but is out of the Preakness for the first time since 2010, feels Orb is capable of winning the Triple Crown.
"The field seems slightly flawed, and it's not full," Motion said. "That seems to be the main impediment a lot of the time. It's much better to go against nine instead of 14."
All systems go for Orb: Derby winner Orb went out Thursday morning for a routine gallop with regular exercise rider Jenn Patterson aboard. "(Thursday) was good, as it has been all week," trainer "Shug" McGaughey said. "He jogged a good ways and then he galloped a mile. He seemed to be very settled, and he got over the racetrack as well as I could have hoped for." Orb is the even-money favorite for the 1 3/16 miles. The only glitch this week came at Wednesday's post-position draw, where Orb drew the rail. Only two horses have won the Preakness from the No. 1 post since 1950. "It didn't bother me," McGaughey said of the No. 1 post. "I wouldn't have slept good if I got it at Churchill Downs. It's a straight shot here. We'll be fine."
Weather: Earlier predictions of a dry Preakness are now far less certain. The latest from the National Weather Service called for a 20 percent chance of thunderstorms after 3 p.m. Saturday.
Today's race: Hall of Fame trainers Bill Mott and Bob Baffert bring the two favorites into the Black-Eyed Susan, a Grade 2 race at Pimlico for 3-year-old fillies (4:47 post time, NBC Sports Network). Mott will saddle Emollient, who has won two of three starts this year and is the 9-5 morning-line favorite. Baffert oversees , who lost her last two races, both against Beholder. Kentucky Derby winner Joel Rosario will be aboard the horse for the first time.