- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 19, 2011

One reason why Animal Kingdom was able to run away with the Kentucky Derby was a lack of early speed that contributed to a slow pace. Everyone expects the Preakness to have a quicker pace, at least early on, with Flashpoint and a couple of other horses moving to the front right away.

With the second group expected to include Shackleford, Mucho Macho Man, Animal Kingdom and a few others, the turn for home will be where this race is won. It’s unlikely Animal Kingdom will lose this race if he’s at his best again, but he’ll be challenged down the stretch by Shackelford, Mucho Macho Man and a hard-closing Dialed In. If Graham Motion’s horse finishes first, expect a lot of Triple Crown talk in the coming weeks because as every owner and trainer has said this week, Animal Kingdom just might be the real deal.

Washington Times staff writer Stephen Whyno has been given an imaginary pot of $100 to wager on the Preakness Stakes. This is how he would use the money:

*$20 to win on Animal Kingdom

*$10 to win on Mucho Macho Man and Shackleford

*$2 exacta box Animal Kingdom-Mucho Macho Man-Shackelford ($12)

*$1 trifecta box Animal Kingdom-Mucho Macho Man-Shackleford-Astrology ($24)

*$1 superfecta box Animal Kingdom-Mucho Macho Man-Shackleford-Astrology ($24)

Animal Kingdom is the “horse to beat,” according to trainer Bob Baffert (Midnight Interlude), who has captured five Preakness Stakes. But if he stumbles, Mucho Macho Man is the best-prepared to come back from the Derby two weeks later and snatch the second jewel of the Triple Crown, with Shackleford posing another legitimate challenge.

• Stephen Whyno can be reached at swhyno@washingtontimes.com.

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