The 2011 Preakness Stakes is officially in the books with Shackleford taking home the victory in an upset over Kentucky Derby winner Animal Kingdom. Shackleford held off Animal Kingdom down the home stretch, winning by three quarters of a length and taking home the $666,000 purse. The win removed any sense of serious drama from the upcoming Belmont Stakes and probably left a few NBC executives drowning their sorrows in a few cocktails. While plenty of people will tune in for the Belmont Stakes, the lack of a Triple Crown threat will remove many casual viewers.
As we begin to look ahead to the Belmont Stakes, updates are slowly coming out as the various Derby and Preakness horses consider whether to run in New York. The folks at Thoroughbred Times had some preliminary details from the respective trainers for Shackleford and Animal Kingdom. Shackleford's people seem a bit more intent on a run at Belmont:
Dale Romans, who trains Shackleford for breeders Michael Lauffer and Bill Cubbedge, said after the Preakness that he would definitely consider the Belmont, including committing to the race as early as Sunday morning by shipping the Forestry colt directly to Long Island rather than his Churchill Downs base.
Animal Kingdom's trainer were not quite so ready to make any declarations:
Animal Kingdom's trainer, Graham Motion, was less bullish but still clear that it was on the radar. He also noted that the long-term plan is to keep Animal Kingdom, who has raced well on both turf and synthetic surfaces as well, on dirt.
It's worth noting that the last time the Preakness winner squared off against the Kentucky Derby winner in the Belmont Stakes was in 2005 when Afleet Alex (Preakness) beat Giacomo (Derby). Such a rematch in three weeks is the one significant storyline to draw in casual viewers.