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Animal Kingdom's Preakness Stakes
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The attempt to quench history’s thirst during this thirty-three year Triple Crown drought once again has left the record book dry.  Nonetheless, Kentucky Derby winner, Animal Kingdom left our hearts full with a top notch performance.  This horse is the real deal.  His willingness to “leave it all on the mat” down to the wire is inspirational.  Animal Kingdom’s run from the gate to the wire are what Disney movies are made from (of course, Disney would have him win by a nose!).       

After a slow start from post position eleven, Animal Kingdom was mildly brushed by Dialed In, coming out of the ten hole.  As the two favorites settled about fifteen lengths back from the pacemakers, Flashpoint and Shackelford, Animal Kingdom was irritated by the dirt getting kicked in his face and did not want to push forward.  Animal Kingdom and the tailgating Dialed In, were anchoring the field, while the two leaders set a scorching first quarter of 22:4.

Following the quarter mile, the pacesetters would alter the outcome of the race by slowing down the whole field, giving everyone a chance to catch their breath.  This strategy would add difficulty for the come from behind horses.  Typically, pacemakers burn themselves out as they continue to expend energy, pushing hard.  Consequently, giving come from behind horses an opportunity to press on the gas and finish strong.                   

Into the final turn, Animal Kingdom began moving up efficiently through the field with Dialed In, continuing his tailgating strategy following close behind.  

Coming into the stretch, Animal Kingdom found himself trapped behind a wall of horses.  Jockey John Velazquez saw a streak of daylight to the front, and courageously pushed his mount for the open lane. To squeeze through barely enough space going at top speed takes a special racehorse to make the move that Animal Kingdom did as they turned for home.

When Animal Kingdom pressed through to the open path ahead, Norman Asbjornson, the colt to his outside, reacted like a piece of dry skin being peeled off, with Dialed In finishing the job.

As pacemaker, Shackelford, held off horses gunning for the lead, Animal Kingdom gained with powerful strides down the homestretch.  The Kentucky Derby winner shifted to a higher gear, passing horses with one goal in mind- nose to the wire first. 

It ended in a brilliant duel between two outstanding, but opposite efforts.  In a nail biting finish, Shackelford hit the wire ahead of Animal Kingdom by ˝ a length, in the time of 1:56.47.

The finishing time will be recorded as a slow time for fast track conditions.  This is an instance where numbers have no place defining this race.  Animal Kingdom and his connections, offered horseracing fans an opportunity to appreciate what should define the industry; impeccable breeding and great training, which led to extraordinary performances from this great colt, Animal Kingdom.  

THE BIGGER MOTION PICTURE

There is an evolution happening in horseracing over the past few years that leaves me optimistic about the sport’s future.

The ripple effect of Animal Kingdom winning the Kentucky Derby put a national spotlight on trainer Graham Motion.  Having a trainer in the forefront of thoroughbred horseracing who stands as a pillar of moral excellence is just what this industry needs to draw fans back to horseracing.  This individual has been training independently for nineteen years and never had one infraction with the Jockey Club rule book.  In a time where it is easier for trainers to choose the quick, easy, (sometimes illegal) road, Graham Motion has elected to stay on the right course, that is no doubt, the sometimes harder course.

Media outlets and racing pundits are constantly posing the question, “How can the horseracing industry build its fan base?”

Simple!  Strictly enforce the rules of horseracing and make it desirable for trainers to operate in the manner that Graham Motion has demonstrated. 

So let it be written; so let it be done!”  -Yul Brynner as Ramses in The Ten Commandments

          

 Read more at:  http://bitsnbunny.blogspot.com/

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