The Kentucky Derby champion Animal Kingdom arrived at Belmont Park on Sunday, ensuring that the 143rd Belmont Stakes will not lack in star power or drama. With the Preakness Stakes champion Shackleford already on the grounds, next Saturday’s race will be viewed through the prism of a championship showdown.
Neither Graham Motion, the trainer of Animal Kingdom, nor Dale Romans, who trains Shackleford, had to bring his colt to New York.
Animal Kingdom was a convincing two-and-three-quarter-length winner on the first Saturday in May, then came a half-length short of catching Shackleford in the stretch of the Preakness. Shackleford led the Derby field into the stretch and hung on to finish fourth.
In fact, the numbers show that most trainers and owners choose to take their one Triple Crown race trophy and go home, especially after running the first two legs. It will be just the 22nd time the winners of the first two Triple Crown races have tried to answer the question of who is the best 3-year-old in the land in the Belmont Stakes, the longest and oldest leg of the series.