With Kentucky Derby winner Animal Kingdom a go for the Belmont Stakes in two weeks, attention shifts to whether Preakness Stakes winner Shackleford will run in the final leg of the Triple Crown.
For now, Shackleford’s trainer Dale Romans isn’t committing, but said Friday the colt will be shipped from Churchill Downs to Belmont Park next week and that’s when the decision will be made.
Animal Kingdom overtook Shackleford in the stretch and won the Derby by two lengths on May 7. Shackleford turned the tables in the Preakness last Saturday, holding off the Derby winner by a half length.
“He bounced out of the Preakness very well and we are looking forward to running in the Belmont Stakes,” Animal Kingdom’s trainer Graham Motion said Friday from Fair Hill Training Center in Elkton, Md., where his colt is stabled.
Motion said Animal Kingdom will probably arrive at Belmont Park the week of the race, “depending on where we decide to have his final workout.”
The last rematch in the final leg of the Triple Crown between the Derby and Preakness winners was 2005, when Preakness winner Afleet Alex defeated Derby winner Giacomo.
Animal Kingdom will attempt to become the 12th horse to complete a Derby-Belmont double.
While the 1-mile Belmont has never reached its limit of 16 starters, it just might this time.
Among other possible starters are Derby runner-up Nehro, Derby third-place and Preakness sixth-place finisher Mucho Macho Man and Peter Pan Stakes winner Alternation.
Other Derby runners who could show up are Master of Hounds (fifth), Santiva (sixth), Blue Grass winner Brilliant Speed (seventh) and Stay Thirsty (11th).
Trainer Bob Baffert has two potential Belmont starters in Awesome Patriot and Uncle Sam. Also on the list of contenders are Harlan’s Hello, Isn’t He Perfect, Monzon, Prime Cut and Ruler On Ice.