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May 20, 2011

Betting this year's Preakness is real easy

By: By Don Agriss, Horse Racing Editor


Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - I've decided that betting the 136th Preakness Stakes on Saturday will be an easy effort. No single horse to depend on, just box four horses in the exacta and trifecta.

Kentucky Derby winner Animal Kingdom is the first of my four horses. It's not unusual for the Kentucky Derby champ to come back in two weeks and run a good race to finish in the money at Pimlico. Animal Kingdom is the 2-1 morning-line favorite and will start from post 11 in the 14 horse field. John Velazquez will again be in the saddle.

At Wednesday's post position draw, trainer Graham Motion expressed his pleasure at the post and how the race will unfold.

"It's great. I couldn't be happier, really," Motion said about Animal Kingdom getting the 11 hole. "I just would rather be on the outside than stuck down on the inside. I was a little worried when 1 and 14 were left. I've started from 14 before and you're almost on the outside rail. That's a tough spot.

"I really haven't looked at it too closely. I don't feel like there is a whole lot I can do about it at this stage. I just want to make sure my horse is doing well, and I feel like he is. There is going to be some speed in there, I do know that, and that shouldn't hurt us."

Remaining in the picture is Kentucky Derby favorite Dialed In who is the 9-2 second choice and will break from post 10 next to the favorite. The Florida Derby champ, 5-1 in the Kentucky Derby, will have Julien Leparoux in the saddle as usual.

"I think it's fine. Everything looks good," Hall of Fame trainer Nick Zito said at the draw. "It's not going to bother him at all. I think if you get over, you know you're in good shape. Normally, a closer, you like to be inside because you're already there, but you can get bottled up or whatever. Julien will have a good shot at it."

Included in the four horse box is Shackleford, who set most of the pace in the Run for the Roses and was able to hold on to fourth-place in the 19 horse field. Shackleford, trained by Dale Romans, will start from post five with Jesus Castanon riding. The colt is 12-1 in the program, a little higher than I expected.

"We've been on the outside two of the last three races," Shackleford's co- owner Michael Lauffer said, "so it will be nice to be near the inside. We've got speed, so we should be able to save a little ground into the first turn, which is what we want to do. He should be in the top three or four horses going into the first turn."

Completing my four horse box is trainer Bob Baffert's Midnight Interlude. Winner of the Santa Anita Derby, Midnight Interlude is 15-1 in the morning- line and will break from post seven with Martin Garcia riding. Garcia was aboard the colt for the three-year-old's very first career start in January.

"Things are looking up," Baffert commented. "Number seven is a good post. You don't want to be in the 1, 2 or 14, but everything else is fine. I think we should have been closer up in the Derby, and I think we'll be there here."

Baffert has already won five Preakness Stakes and he does it in pairs. He had winners in 1997 (Silver Charm) and 1998 (Real Quiet), 2001 (Point Given) and 2002 (War Emblem) and last year with Lookin At Lucky.

All is ready for the Preakness. No horses are expected to be scratched like Uncle Mo was the day before the Derby. The weather will be excellent and I plan on cashing not trashing.

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