By Kevin Van Valkenburg, The Baltimore Sun
5:20 PM AKDT, May 20, 2011
Trainer Graham Motion has made his final preparations for the Preakness, and feels confident Animal Kingdom will run well Saturday.
By the time betting closed Friday night, Animal Kingdom had slipped a bit in the eyes of betters. Dialed In will begin Saturday as a 3-1 favorite, and Animal Kingdom is currently the second choice at 7-2, but none of that matters at all to Motion.
"I just couldn't be happier with how he's doing," Motion said of Animal Kingdom, who will ship from Fair Hill around 5 a.m. Saturday. "I can't dictate the pace and I really can't predict if he's going to bounce, but he's giving me no indication of any of those things happening. I think sometimes when a horse bounces you don't get any indication. I think it's pretty hard to boldly say he's not going to, but he hasn't given me any indication that he's not doing as well or better than he was going into the Derby."
Motion admitted he's been a bit overwhelmed by all the interview requests he's received the last two weeks, but now he's finally back in race mode.
"I feel more relaxed than I have all week," he said. "I think I've done what I can do and it's really out of my hands now. The nerve-wracking stuff is just getting the training done and just trying to keep things straight. We're to this point where it's really out of my hands; we just get into the races and hope everything goes smoothly."
Busy day for Motion
Motion not only has Animal Kingdom in the Preakness, he has Shared Account, the odds-on favorite in the Grade III, $100,000 Gallorette Handicap for fillies and mares on the turf.
Shared Account is owned by Sagamore Farm and had a stunning (46-1 odds) victory in the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf last November.
Motion is concerned that Shared Account, the 4-5 morning-line favorite, has been assigned to carry 125 pounds, a minimum of 10 pounds more than her seven rivals.
"It's not the weight, but I'm surprised at the spread of the weight," Motion said of Shared Account, who carried 124 in the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf. "Giving 10 or more pounds to everybody is quite a bit."
Shared Account is the only graded winner in the field, but Motion said "there are some up-and-coming fillies in there and although "she is doing great, it could be a problem."
In that group of potential contenders are Irish-bred No Explaining (4-1), Desert Sage (5-1) and Dyna Waltz (5-1).
Mass Destruction takes Lady Legends race
Eighteen months ago, Mary Wiley-Wagner had her final chemotherapy treatment, and went home hopeful that she had finally beaten breast cancer.
These days, the veteran jockey is still cancer free, and she's celebrating in impressive style. Wiley-Wagner rode Mass Destruction to a dominant victory in the annual Lady Legends for the Cure Race at Pimlico on Friday. The favorite, Stone in Love, finished second, and Alicantino was third.
"How did it look? Did it look like I was having fun?" Wiley-Wagner said. "Oh my gosh. This is my passion, and to be able to come back and do it after cancer, damn, it doesn't get any better."
This was the second consecutive year eight retired female jockeys competed in the $31,000 race, which was staged as a partnership between Pimlico management and Susan G. Komen for the Cure, the world's largest breast cancer organization.
Pimlico made a donation of $33,108 to the Komen Maryland affiliate, equal to the amount wagered on Mass Destruction. Seventy-five percent of the funds raised Friday will go to the affiliate to use for community outreach programs in Maryland. The remaining 25 percent will go toward breast cancer research. Wiley-Wagner said after the race she was going to donate her portion of the winnings to charity.
Wiley-Wagner actually raced in last-year's Legends for the Cure race, but she finished fourth aboard Mass Destruction.
"They didn't let me win this race last year," Wiley-Wagner said. "I needed the win. Not to prove anything to anybody else, just to prove to myself that I could do it."
Note: Archarcharch, who had surgery after injuring his left front ankle in the Kentucky Derby, is headed off to a new career as a stallion. The colt left Churchill Downs on Friday for Spendthrift Farm in Lexington, Ky., where he will stand at stud beginning next year.