Yesterday marked the 136th running of the Preakness Stakes in Baltimore, Maryland. It started with Shackleford refusing to enter the gate. He seemed to be using all of his energy trying to avoid the small entrance, fighting against several men who had to physically push and pull him into place. It seemed his chance to win was being squandered by his lack of cooperation and focus.
Having led most of the Kentucky Derby, he gave out in the final leg of The Run For the Roses. But this track, a sixteenth of a mile shorter, could prove to be the perfect length for this horse.
Animal Kingdom had come from behind in The Kentucky Derby, looking like fierce jets kicked in as he passed the pack. In the Preakness, he either stayed back too long, or ran out of time. Although he displayed the same strategy, it wasn’t enough to beat Shackleford this time.
Shackleford won the race, knocking Animal Kingdom – who came in second – out of a possible Triple Crown victory.
Astrology, a new horse – one who didn’t run in the derby – rounded out the top three.
Animal Kingdom’s trainer, Graham Motion, observed through binoculars and we watched his face go from stoic and hopeful to disappointed and crest fallen. I am sure it was an enormous blow to see his horse fall just slightly short of the victory. He can only look ahead to Belmont and hope for two wins out of three.
As for Shackleford, he deserved a win. He raced so hard in the derby and was pushed a little too fiercely – or so it seemed to us watching his lather of sweat and wildly flaring nostrils in Louisville.
But there can only be one winner and at the end of the day, as the horses are led away to be fed and groomed and massaged, wins and losses are laid to rest and preparations for the next race get under way.
See you in New York at the Belmont.
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