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Animal Kingdom is on a Mission

Animal Kingdom is the hot horse heading into the Belmont Stakes. (AP Images)

By all accounts Animal Kingdom  is well prepared and fit for the Belmont Stakes. Handicappers seem to agree as his price continues to drop as race day nears. Animal Kingdom is seeking to become only the 12th horse to win both the Kentucky Derby and the Belmont Stakes.

Who will win the Belmont Stakes match-up between Animal Kingdom and Shackleford?   Bet now to cast your vote!

A quick review of Animal Kingdom’s past Triple Crown performances is in order and will hopefully shed some light on the surprising outsider’s chances at making further history.

Kentucky Derby
It turned out that Animal Kingdom didn’t know that he was a 20-1 underdog and proceeded to take down the race as if he was the favorite. Not only did his jockey John Velazquez say that he “really didn’t have to do anything”, but Animal Kingdom was actually still accelerating when he hit the finish line.
Preakness Stakes
Although he was the favorite heading into the Preakness Stakes there were legitimate questions about how Animal Kingdom would handle the shorter track speed. With horses like Shackleford and Dance City expected to set a quick pace it could prove difficult for him to keep up. As it turns out Shackleford did win the race, but Animal Kingdom was a very close second and would probably have caught him with a little more track room.

Belmont Prospects
Given his powerful finish in the Kentucky Derby and his ability to haul in the speedsters as demonstrated in the Preakness, there doesn’t seem to be much that Animal Kingdom can’t do. In both races he and John Velazquez had solid strategic runs, and Graham Motion seems to understand both his own horse’s capabilities and just as importantly those of his opponents.

There will be an unprecedented seven Kentucky Derby finishers racing in the Belmont.   One could think that the competition would give Animal Kingdom a certain amount of trouble. However, given the above it is easy to see why he remains the clear favorite.