Only two weeks ago, Dialed In and Animal Kingdom both sat in very different positions as they prepared for the 137rd running of the Kentucky Derby.
Dialed In, coming off of his win in the Grade 1 Florida Derby, was preparing to be labeled the favorite in the upcoming Kentucky Derby. While there were questions about his ability to close in a predictably slow race, most figured him as the most talented horse in the bunch.
Animal Kingdom (Animal who?) was a completely different story. Listed as 15th on the updated May 1st Graded Earnings list by KentuckyDerby.com, Animal Kingdom’s entry was the result of his victory in the much less regarded Grade 3 Vinery Racing Spiral Stakes.
Thus, while most handicappers were trying to figure out how different pace scenarios and track conditions were going to affect Dialed In, others were trying to figure out exactly who Animal Kingdom was. For those who bothered to look deeper into Animal Kingdom’s history, the main question was how well this horse would perform on a dirt surface that he had never tackled before.
Now, two weeks later, the popularity and focus has shifted. After Animal Kingdom’s surprising victory in the Kentucky Derby, most horse racing fans are now focused on Animal Kingdom, while Dialed In has become something of an afterthought.
Animal Kingdom has the chance to become the first horse since Affirmed in 1978 to win the coveted Triple Crown. Suddenly he is the talk of the sport, and many are considering him the early favorite for the Preakness, despite his status as a long shot in the Kentucky Derby.
Dialed in, on the other hand, is racing for quite a big prize himself. Because of certain conditions set forth by MI Developments, Dialed In is set to win a $5.5 million bonus if he can capture the victory Saturday at Pimlico in the Preakness Stakes. Thus, while Animal Kingdom’s success or failure is going to lead to much more attention and anticipation, Dialed In is not a horse to sleep on this weekend.
First, the early speed in the Kentucky Derby was almost non-existent. Things will almost surely be different in the Preakness, as horses like Flashpoint, Dance City and Astrology join Kentucky Derby early front-runner Shackleford. This should favor Dialed In and his closing style.
Secondly, the Preakness Stakes has a maximum field of 14, meaning that the field will be at least 5 horses smaller than this year’s Kentucky Derby field. This should also give Dialed In more daylight with which to maneuver as he tries to display his signature close down the stretch.
The main change, however, is that in the Preakness Stakes, all eyes and pressure will be on Animal Kingdom as the likely favorite and potential Triple Crown winner. In contrast, Dialed In, who has the potential to be the second betting choice, will enter the gate with much less fanfare and anticipation than he did on May 7th.
Whether or not this role reversal will shake up the final results, it is clear that Animal Kingdom is the horse that most fans will be searching for down the stretch. Furthermore, while Animal Kingdom is likely to be over-bet by casual fans, Dialed In may actually provide some decent value.
What a difference two weeks can make.