Archive for May, 2011

2011 Preakness Profile: Nehro

Kentucky Derby runner-up Nehro might skip the 2011 Preakness and wait for the Belmont Stakes but he figures to take plenty of wagering action if his connections opt to run him in Baltimore.

Trained by Steve Asmussen and owned by Zayat Stables, Nehro was slow to develop. After back-to-back unplaced efforts, the 3-year-old son of Mineshaft graduated nicely in a flat mile special weight affair at Oaklawn Park on Feb 21.

2011 Preakness logo

The aforementioned maiden win seemed to light a fire under Nehro because he returned to just miss in the Louisiana Derby at 36-1. He returned three weeks later to lose another photo in the Arkansas Derby and he headed to Churchill Downs as the wise guy horse.

Surprisingly, the Derby had no pace and Nehro’s rider Corey Nakatani sensed the slow fractions and made a smart early move. He was run down by Animal Kingdom and landed the place once again.

The Kentucky Derby was his third start in six weeks and it might be asking too much to come back in two weeks on the third Saturday in May. If he waits for the Belmont Stakes he would be running on five weeks rest.  He breezed four furlongs in :50.80 at Churchill Downs on May 16.

2011 Preakness Profile – Animal Kingdom

In this first in a series of 2011 Preakness contender profiles, I will look at the chances of Animal Kingdom in the second jewel of the Triple Crown.

Animal Kingdom, owned by Team Valor and trained by Graham Motion, has not missed a beat in five career starts. He rallied through traffic to land the place behind subsequent Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf show finisher Willcox Inn in his off the turf Polytrack debut at Arlington Park last September. He easily graduated in a Keeneland synthetic route second time out for Wayne Catalano and that effort concluded his juvenile campaign.

Animal Kingdom

Do you like Animal Kingdom in the Preakness? - photo by Eclipse Sportswire

He returned under the care of Graham Motion and just missed in a flat mile turf route at Gulfstream Park on March 3. The March 26 Spiral Stakes was his breakthrough performance and his lone dirt work prior to the first Saturday in May was strong.

His rally from 12th place in the Derby was exceptional and the consistent performer handles any ground and has been part the exacta in all five lifetime starts.

How will he react to returning in two weeks at Pimlico? The $100,000 Keeneland sales graduate is obviously on the upswing but the Derby pace was slow and a quicker pace in Baltimore could dull his late kick.

Animal Kingdom has the pedigree to run all day and things could get exciting if he wins the Preakness but let’s not get ahead of ourselves. He has a realistic shot at winning in Baltimore but gamblers might want to look elsewhere for more value.

Derby winner Animal Kingdom Preakness Bound

Animal Kingdom, the upset winner of the 137th running of the Kentucky Derby, came out of that race in good order and is on his way to Maryland to begin preparations for the 2011 Preakness Stakes.

Trainer Graham Motion will get Animal Kingdom ready for his next test at his Fair Hill Training Center base not far from Pimlico Race Course.

2011 Kentucky Derby show finisher Mucho Macho Man is expected to return in the Preakness, along with Shackleford, Santiva, and beaten Derby favorite Dialed In.

Speaking of Dialed In, the Nick Zito trainee is eligible for Frank Stronach’s $5.5 million bonus if he wins the second jewel of the Triple Crown. He qualified for the bonus by winning the Holy Bull Stakes and Florida Derby at Gulfstream Park.

Numerous new shooters are expected in Baltimore, including Jerome runner-up Astrology, Arkansas Derby show finisher Dance City, and Sway Away. The latter was 21st on the Kentucky Derby graded earnings list and just missed qualifying for the big dance on the first Saturday in May.