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Barbs Stir Things Up Before Race

AP Photo

The 143rd Belmont Stakes, which features a showdown between Kentucky Derby champion Animal Kingdom and Preakness winner Shackleford on Saturday at Belmont Park, stands out as a jolting exception.

Barry Irwin, who forms racing partnerships on behalf of Team Valor International that includes Animal Kingdom, fired the first shot.

"I'm not worried about Shackleford," he said during a news media event Tuesday. "I'm worried about Mucho Macho Man."

Since Mucho Macho Man finished third in the Run for the Roses and sixth in the Preakness two weeks later, trainer Dale Romans did not appreciate the degree to which Shackleford was disrespected.

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