05/11/2011 11:56AM

Preakness: Albarado to ride King Congie


Robby Albarado, who was taken off eventual Kentucky Derby winner Animal Kingdom the day before the race, has picked up the mount on King Congie for the $1 million Preakness on May 21, a race in which he will face Animal Kingdom at Pimlico.

PREAKNESS STAKES 2011: Contender profiles and news updates

Terry Finley, the president of the West Point Thoroughbreds syndicate that owns King Congie, noted that Albarado rode his stable’s first Grade 1 winner - Flashy Bull in the 2007 Stephen Foster. Albarado also won the 2009 Stephen Foster for West Point aboard Macho Again.

“Given what happened to him in the Derby, I would have to think he’ll be more focused and dialed in, plus he’s won a Preakness, and we want to take advantage of that,” said Finley, noting that Albarado was aboard 2007 Preakness winner Curlin. “I think he’s a top-class rider who is going to be in the Hall of Fame some day.”

Albarado was named to ride Animal Kingdom when entries were taken for the Kentucky Derby on April 27. But earlier that day, Albarado was involved in an incident in which his mount kicked him in the face.

Albarado took off his mounts that Thursday and Friday, which prompted Barry Irwin, head of the Team Valor International syndicate that owns Animal Kingdom, to make a rider change to John Velazquez.

Albarado did ride Saturday’s card at Churchill, winning the Grade 1 Humana Distaff earlier on the card.

On Tuesday, it was announced that Velazquez and Irwin sent undisclosed matching payments to Albarado as compensation for him missing out on riding the Derby.

King Congie, like Animal Kingdom before the Derby, has never won on dirt. Both of his career victories have come on turf. Most recently, he was third, beaten just a head, in the Blue Grass. In his only two starts on dirt, King Congie was beaten a combined 31 1/2 lengths in sprint races at Saratoga - where he faced Uncle Mo - and Belmont Park.