Preakness 2011: Odds Favor Animal Kingdom, But He's A Risky Pick

All eyes are on Animal Kingdom as bettors gear up for Saturday’s 136th running of the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore.

Animal Kingdom surprised oddsmakers by winning the 2011 Kentucky Derby as a +2000 longshot, and it’s now the headliner for the second leg of the Triple Crown. Not surprisingly, Animal Kingdom’s impressive triumph at Churchill Downs has it as the favorite in the 2011 Preakness.

Expect Animal Kingdom to be in the range of +300 chalk at US-based online racebook by the time the horses post on Saturday, and he could go even lower given the dearth of sure-fire contenders in the field. There’s a lot to like about Animal Kingdom and that’s sure to have him attracting plenty of public money for the 1 3-16-mile Preakness.

Animal Kingdom is peaking at the right time – clearly – and while he has all the physical tools after running the second half of the Derby in near-record time, there are question marks as well, says analyst Jack Randall.

"A couple of red flags for Animal Kingdom are that the Derby was his first race run on dirt, and he went into the Derby after a six-week layoff. Will his second venture on a dirt track go as well, and will the shorter rest period between races be a problem?"

(For a free Preakness contest, updated lines and info on the Preakness Stakes, check out SB Nation’s lines partner Odds Shark).

Derby runner-up Nehro was set to follow Animal Kingdom on the odds list, but he’s been ruled out of the Preakness. Nehro has run a busy schedule after finishing second at both the Louisiana Derby and Arkansas Derby prior to placing at Churchill Downs.

That leaves Kentucky Derby fave Dialed In as the biggest challenger to Animal Kingdom, but how much trust can bettors put in a horse that was eighth in the first leg of the Triple Crown? Dialed In did cash the Holy Bull Stakes and the Florida Derby, but he’s likely overvalued after such a flat performance in Louisville.

However think back to last year when Derby favorite Lookin’ at Lucky faltered at Churchill Downs, then won in Pimlico two weeks later. Can Dialed In repeat that rebound performance and wreck Triple Crown talk for yet another season?

Mucho Macho Man figures to be in the mix after showing in the Derby, and he’s the most consistent horse in the field. In addition to his performance in the Derby, Mucho Macho Man has posted Top 3s in eight of his nine career starts. Other horses worth a look this week, should they enter the field, are Shackelford, Santira, Astrology, Dance City, and Flashpoint. Shackelford was the pacesetter at the Derby before falling back to fourth, while Santira was sixth at the Derby.

Looking ahead to Triple Crown futures at, Animal Kingdom is likely to be in the range of +500 to take all three races in the Crown for the first time since 1978.

For Triple Crown odds and more every day, visit Odds Shark.

The 2011 Preakness Stakes gets underway on May 21 at Pimlico racetrack. Stay with our 2011 Preakness Stakes StoryStream for odds, contender profiles, post positions and more. To look back at the Derby, check out SB Nation's 2011 Kentucky Derby StoryStream. Also, our horse racing blog And Down The Stretch They Come has two must-read resources for Derby and Preakness fans: A Beginner's Guide To Following Horse Racing and a glossary of horse racing terms.

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