BALTIMORE -- Things are falling nicely into place for Kentucky Derby winner Animal Kingdom.
He's training in the Maryland countryside, he's been made the early 2-1 favourite for the Preakness Stakes and he drew a decent post for Saturday's race.
"It's great. I couldn't be happier," trainer Graham Motion said after his colt landed in the No. 11 post on Wednesday.
A full field of 14 is set for the 1 3/16-mile Preakness at Pimlico, located about 60 miles from Fair Hill Training Center, where Animal Kingdom will be until the morning of the race.
It will be the first time since 2005 that 14 horses are set to run in the second leg of the Triple Crown series. That's five fewer horses than ran in the Derby, where the far outside post was a much bigger concern than it will be in the Preakness.
"I would just rather be on the outside than stuck down on the inside. I was a little worried when one and 14 were still left," Motion said. "It would not have been the end of the world, but I much prefer to be in the middle to the outside, where I am."
Just two winners since 1926 have come out of the No. 11 post, the last being Point Given trained by Bob Baffert in 2001.
Seventy favourites have won in the previous 135 runnings, including 2009 champion Rachel Alexandra and Big Brown, who was the 1-5 favourite in 2008.
"Now we're a pretty solid favourite. It feels great," said Barry Irwin, who represents the 20 people who own Animal Kingdom under the partnership of Team Valor International.
Velazquez is keeping his mount on Animal Kingdom after replacing injured Robby Albarado the day before the Derby. Albarado picked up a Preakness mount with King Congie.
Dialed In, the beaten Derby favourite, is the 9-2 second choice of Pimlico oddsmaker Frank Carulli. The colt drew the No. 10 post Wednesday. Dialed In finished eighth in the Derby nearly two weeks ago.
"I don't think it matters with him because of his style of running," trainer Nick Zito said about Dialed In's post. "Would I want a 14? Probably not. But 10 will be fine."
If Dialed In wins the Preakness, he is eligible for a US$5.5 million payday in addition to the $600,000 winner's share. The majority of that would go to owner Robert LaPenta, while Zito would receive $500,000.
The bonus is the result of Dialed In's earlier victories in the Holy Bull Stakes and the Florida Derby. It is offered by MI Developments Inc., which owns Pimlico and Gulfstream.
Mucho Macho Man, third in the Derby for trainer Kathy Ritvo, is the 6-1 third choice and will break from the No. 9 post.
-- The Associated Press
Field of 14 set
THE field including jockeys and odds (all carry 126 pounds):
Astrology, Mike Smith, 15-1
Norman Asbjornson, Julian Pimentel, 30-1
King Congie, Robby Albarado, 20-1
Flashpoint, Cornelio Velasquez, 20-1
Shackleford, Jesus Castanon, 12-1
Sway Away, Garrett Gomez, 15-1
Midnight Interlude, Martin Garcia, 15-1
Dance City, Ramon Dominguez, 12-1
Mucho Macho Man, Rajiv Maragh, 6-1
Dialed In, Julien Leparoux, 9-2
Animal Kingdom, John Velazquez, 2-1
Isn't He Perfect, Edgar Prado, 30-1
Concealed Identity, Sheldon Russell, 30-1
Mr. Commons, Victor Espinoza, 20-1.