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Jun 03, 2011

Derby champ headed to Belmont Stakes


Elkton, MD (Sports Network) - Kentucky Derby winner Animal Kingdom has been confirmed as a starter in the $1 million Belmont Stakes at Belmont Park on June 11. Trainer Graham Motion made the announcement Friday at the Fair Hill Training Center.

"We just made the decision that he will be coming to the Belmont," said Motion. "He bounced out of the Preakness very well and we are looking forward to running in the Belmont Stakes. He will probably come to Belmont Park the week leading up to the race, depending on where we decide to have his final workout."

Owned by Team Valor International, Animal Kingdom won the Kentucky Derby by 2 3/4-lengths on May 7, but fell just a half-length short of capturing the Preakness Stakes two weeks later.

"If he wins it (Belmont Stakes), he would be a cinch to win the Eclipse Award," Team Valor founder and Chief Executive Officer Barry Irwin said.

Shackleford, fourth in the Derby, denied Animal Kingdom a chance at becoming the first Triple Crown champion since Affirmed in 1978. Shackleford, trained by Dale Romans, is also being pointed toward the 1 1/2-mile Test of Champions.

Animal Kingdom has had four starts this year with two wins and two seconds. Six weeks prior to the Run for the Roses he also won the Vinery Spiral Stakes by 2 3/4-lengths at Turfway Park. This year he has earned more than $1.9 million.

Along with the winners of the Kentucky Derby and Preakness, other three-year- olds likely to start in the Belmont Stakes are Derby runner-up Nehro, Peter Pan Stakes winner Alternation, Blue Grass Stakes champ Brilliant Speed, Harlan's Hello and stablemate Isn't He Perfect, Master of Hounds, Mucho Macho Man, Monzon, Prime Cut, Ruler On Ice, Santiva, and Gotham Stakes winner Stay Thirsty.

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