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Preakness Stakes Picks

Animal Kingdom: Horse to Beat

5/21/11

The Preakness Stakes has attracted a full field of 14 colts this year. The most notable of those 14 is surprise Kentucky Derby winner Animal Kingdom. He paid $43.20 in that win, but is the 2-1 favorite here.

We all knew the Kentucky Derby was a wide open race and truth be told Animal Kingdom was an over lay. Hind sight is always 20/20 but the fact that Midnight Interlude and Twice The Appeal were both under or around 10-1 in the Run for the Roses while the Spiral winner Animal Kingdom was over 20-1 was absurd. Animal Kingdom’s win was emphatic and there is absolutely no argument that it was a fluke. This lightly raced three-year-old is for real and could threaten to annex the Triple Crown for the first time since Affirmed in 1978.

Pace looks to set up favorably for him here with Derby pace setter Shackleford also in here along with the speedsters Dance City and Flashpoint. Even if they go slow it won’t matter as Animal Kingdom has already proved he can close into slow fractions. Graham Motion trains his horses at the nearby Fair Hill Training Center and he has had great success at Pimlico in the past. Animal Kingdom will be VERY tough to hold off in the stretch.

If something happens to the Kentucky Derby winner the race is very wide open. After him there are 8 or 9 colts with a legit chance to win the race. For a bomb we like 15-1 shot Astrology breaking from the rail under jockey Mike Smith. He will be making his third start of the year which is traditionally a peak effort. He was a graded stakes winner at 2 and is bred to go this far. His sire A.P. Indy produced 2006 Preakness winner Bernardini. In fact, Astrology and Bernardini are bred on the same cross as both are from a mare by Quiet American, sire of Kentucky Derby winner Real Quiet.

Kentucky Derby third place finisher Mucho Macho Man proved he still has plenty to say about the way things will play out in the three-year-old division. He is a young colt that will only actually be turning three next month. Thoroughbreds all have a universal birthday of January 1 for racing purposes though. Trainer Kathy Ritvo says he is doing very well and he is ready to run. He is plenty good enough to take the Preakness Stakes.

For those looking to take a shot on a big time bomb look no further than Norman Asbjornson. Named after the famed scientist, he was last seen finishing fourth in the Wood Memorial behind Toby’s Corner. Before that he finished second in the Gotham Stakes at odds of 47.5-1. Trainer Christopher Grove is a Maryland native and winning the Preakness would be a huge honor for him and the connections. Norman is working well and will be plenty fit for this. His sire, Real Quiet, was a Preakness Stakes winner.

Official Preakness Selections:

For the Derby we gave you 6 horses to use in exacta and trifecta boxes. We nailed them both. We will use the same approach once again. The key to making a score on any horse race is finding horses at decent odds that can upset the favorites. We'll use a couple of the shorter priced entries, but obviously will root for an upset.

Flashpoint and Shackleford will duel early on. Not far behind will be Dance City and then Sway Away and Mucho Macho Man. The race has the potential to set up very similar to the Arkansas Derby. Dance City and Sway Away made a move in that one but were both caught down the stretch by Nehro and Archarcharch. At the back of the pack will be Animal Kingdom and Dialed In. Yeah, Dialed In, remember him? The Kentucky Derby favorite?

Dialed In ran out of time in the Derby and was hurt by the slow pace. He managed to close from last to 8th. The Preakness pace figures to be much faster which should help this horse. Trainer Nick Zito thinks he has the best 3 year old in the country. We think he may be right. Expect Dialed In and Animal Kingdom to pass most of the pack when they make their moves. We have a hunch that this time, it will be Dialed in passing them all.

The most likely scenario is either Animal Kingdom or Dialed In catching the likes of Dance City, Sway Away and Astrology down the stretch, but you have to like your chances of one of them hitting the board at a nice price, and hey, who knows, maybe one of our nice priced selections can hold on for the upset. Our official long shot pick to win will be Dance City.

Here's our 6:

Dialed In 4/1

Dance City 14/1

Animal Kingdom 3/1

Mucho Macho Man 7/1

Sway Away 12/1

Astrology 20/1

Good Luck - Enjoy!

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