05/18/2011 1:12PM

Preakness: Last horse to beat Animal Kingdom now sidelined


After running third in his career debut at Arlington last September, Animal Kingdom has won three of four subsequent starts, with the only loss coming by a head in a March 3 turf allowance at Gulfstream.

The front-running winner of that allowance was a Fusaichi Pegasus colt named Powhatan County, whose only subsequent start resulted in a fifth-place finish in the April 8 Transylvania Stakes at Keeneland. A hind-end ailment has sidelined Powhatan County for a while, said George Weaver, who trains him for Richlyn Farms.

PREAKNESS STAKES 2011: Contender profiles, news updates, video, and odds

Weaver recalled the Gulfstream race, saying, “We were able to get the jump on Animal Kingdom. I was happy to win, because I knew Graham [Motion] liked his horse.”

Acknowledging the fame that Animal Kingdom has attained by winning the Kentucky Derby, Weaver joked: “I’ll be looking for a rematch.” In a more serious tone: “I’d like to see him go on and win the Triple Crown.”

Collmus mimics some great racing voices

Larry Collmus, who on Saturday will be making his first Preakness call for NBC Sports, grew up in nearby Ellicott City and worked as a go-fer as a teen in the press boxes of Maryland racetracks. Besides honing his own race calls, Collmus, now 44, became an ace at imitating established announcers such as Dave Johnson, Marshall Cassidy, Ross Morton, Jack Lamar, Costy Caras, Bob Weems, and Dick Woolley.

“Actually, Jack Salter was my favorite,” said Collmus.

Posthumous honor for Jim McKay

Through his renown as a sportscaster, Jim McKay brought more attention to horse racing than what it might have gotten otherwise. To acknowledge that and his other contributions to racing, the National Thoroughbred Writers And Broadcasters has posthumously honored McKay with their first broadcaster’s membership. Formerly limited primarily to print media, the organization has expanded to allow on-air personalities as members.

Exotic wagering smorgasbord

There will be no lack of wagering opportunities here this weekend. The menu includes the two-day double combining the Black-Eyed Susan and Preakness; a jockey challenge wager on races 2-4-6-8 on Friday; rolling pick threes, two pick fours, two super high fives, and one pick five on both programs; rolling doubles on Saturday only; and pool guarantees of $250,000 on the first Saturday pick four (races 5-8) and $1 million on the Saturday pick four ending with the Preakness (races 9-12).

Last Maryland racing until August

Preakness Day once was the linchpin of a lengthy spring meet at Pimlico, but on this beleaguered circuit, that no longer holds true. Saturday is closing day here, and live action in Maryland will not return until the Timonium meet in late August. Until then, most horsemen will campaign in Virginia at the Colonial Downs meet that starts June 8.