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By Kevin Van Valkenburg and Baltimore Sun reporter | June 11, 2011
A wild and unpredictable Triple Crown season came to an appropriately stunning conclusion Saturday as 24-1 long shot Ruler On Ice won the 143rd running of the Belmont Stakes. Ruler On Ice, a gelding who didn't run in either the Kentucky Derby or the Preakness and was wearing blinkers for the first time, sat just off the lead for most of the race, and then jockey Jose Valdivia Jr. let him surge to the lead with 1/4 of a mile to go. The temperamental but talented colt ran hard to the wire, holding off Stay Thirsty (second)
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SPORTS
By Liam Durbin, Special to The Baltimore Sun | June 10, 2011
The extra distance in the Belmont should play well for the favorite, Animal Kingdom. He ran out of room in the Preakness before he got to Shackleford, despite getting fast early fractions to set up his late run. Even in that narrow defeat, Animal Kingdom debunked the bounce theorists and proved he was not a one trick pony. He has been training well and seems well-rested. I expect he will show up and will be the one to beat. To that point, Animal Kingdom is not the only horse who will be running late.
SPORTS
By Kevin Van Valkenburg, The Baltimore Sun | June 10, 2011
Here are five storylines to watch for in the 143rd running of the Belmont Stakes 1. How will Animal Kingdom handle the sandy track at Belmont Park? It seemed as if Animal Kingdom had put to rest any questions about how comfortable he is running on dirt after his impressive win at the Kentucky Derby. When he fell well back going around the first turn in the Preakness, though, it was clear that having a considerable amount of dirt and mud kicked in his face bothered him. Trainer Graham Motion said this week he didn't blame jockey John Velazquez for putting the colt in that position.
SPORTS
By Kevin Van Valkenburg, The Baltimore Sun | June 8, 2011
Kentucky Derby winnerAnimal Kingdom was made a 2-1 morning-line favorite Wednesday for the 143rd running of the Belmont Stakes after he drew the No. 9 stall in the post position draw. Animal Kingdom, who is conditioned by Maryland trainer Graham Motion, will have his work cut out for him as he tries to become just the 12th horse to win the Derby and the Belmont. Only four winners have come from that position since 1905. But Motion said he doesn't think it will matter much. When horses are running a mile and a half, post position is less important.
SPORTS
By Baltimore Sun staff | June 6, 2011
Kentucky Derby winner and Preakness runner-up Animal Kingdom put in a final workout this morning before Saturday's Belmont Stakes. Trainer Graham Motion told reporters that  “it couldn't have gone any smoother.” With jockey John Velazquez aboard, Animal Kingdom worked four furlongs in 47.76 seconds over the main dirt track at Belmont Park, according to the Associated Press. The 3-year-old colt, who is based in Fair Hill, Md., traveled to New York over the weekend. Motion says he wanted a four-furlong workout because he figured Animal Kingdom would gallop out strongly for another furlong, which he did, according to the AP. Velazquez concurred, saying everything went well, and “he knew he had a jockey on top of him because he just played with me. He had me at hello.” Animal Kingdom and Preakness winner Shackleford are the top two horses in a likely field of 12 starters for Saturday's Triple Crown race.
SPORTS
By Mike Klingaman, The Baltimore Sun | May 27, 2011
With Animal Kingdom committed to run in the Belmont Stakes, can Shackleford be far behind? Those horses, winners of the first two legs of racing's Triple Crown, are expected to contend for the third time at Belmont on June 11. After Animal Kingdom jogged 1-1/2 miles Friday morning at the Fair Hill Training Center in Elkton, trainer Graham Motion pronounced the Kentucky Derby winner fit to go in the race many see as the rubber match between the rival...
SPORTS
By Kevin Van Valkenburg, The Baltimore Sun | May 21, 2011
Dale Romans and his older brother Jerry were eating breakfast Saturday morning at their hotel in Cross Keys, trying to keep their mind off of the 136th running of the Preakness, when the two of them -- for reasons they can't quite explain -- started to think about the beginning of their career as trainers, close to 25 years ago. The two brothers began to chuckle, and with good reason. The horses they worked all those years ago when they were living at Ellis Park in Henderson, Kentucky, were not exactly the stuff dreams are made of. In fact, they were pretty awful as far as thoroughbreds go. "We had a lot of horses, and some were the cheapest of the cheap," Romans said.
SPORTS
By Baltimore Sun reporter | May 21, 2011
Kentucky Derby winner Animal Kingdom, stabled at Fair Hill Training Center since his victory, arrived at Pimlico Race Course this morning for today's 136th Preakness. Unlike most Derby winners, who usually arrive mid-week to begin preparations for the second leg of the Triple Crown, Animal Kingdom trainer Graham Motion chose to keep his colt in the quiet surroundings of Fair Hill, Md., about 60 miles north of Baltimore in Cecil County. Animal Kingdom made the move this morning by van with several of his stablemates who will be running in Preakness undercard races today.
SPORTS
By Jean Marbella, The Baltimore Sun | May 21, 2011
As the Preakness Nation gathered for the 136th time on Saturday, it could count its blessings any number of ways — a sky so brightly blue the ladies really did need their bountifully brimmed hats, an infield scene that seemed as beer-soaked as ever yet also tamer, and, most of all, a horse race that was in doubt until the last step. Maryland's own Animal Kingdom finished second, a half-length behind Shackleford, disappointing home fans and ending any chance of a Triple Crown, last accomplished in 1978.
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