Shackleford (5), ridden by Jesus Castanon, moves through the finish line to win the 36th Preakness Stakes horse race at Pimlico Race Course, Saturday, May 21, 2011, in Baltimore. Animal Kingdom, behind, ridden by John Velazquez, took second place. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
Updated: August 30, 2011 12:17AM
BALTIMORE — Shackleford was sweating profusely, bucking and kicking until six crewmen
finally shoved him into the No. 5 gate Saturday at the Preakness Stakes.
One ton of horseflesh all but screamed, ‘‘Get me out of here.’’
Less than two minutes after the gate sprang open, the nervous colt was a cool, classic winner.
Shackleford held off a late charge by Kentucky Derby winner Animal Kingdom and foiled yet another Triple Crown try by earning a half-length victory at Pimlico.
The chestnut colt, who led into the stretch in the Derby two weeks ago, finished the job this time at 12-1 odds and covered the 13/16 miles in
1 minute, 56.47 seconds.
Shackleford, with jockey Jesus Castanon aboard, battled Flashpoint for the lead until midway through the final turn, then dug in to hold off Animal Kingdom before 107,398 fans.
‘‘He was a little hot in the beginning, but he was able to calm down,’’ Castanon said. ‘‘He’s a good horse and able to handle it.’’
It was the first victory in a Triple Crown race for Castanon and trainer Dale Romans, a native of Louisville, Ky., who watched Shackleford finish fourth in the Derby.
Shackleford’s antics before the race weren’t unusual, said Romans, who indicated the horse often gets nervous and sweats excessively.
‘‘He wasn’t acting that bad,’’
Romans said. ‘‘It’s a hot day, so that wasn’t worrying me too much. I was more concerned at the quarter-pole if he was going to hold on. . . . I’ve won some big races, but none as
exciting as that one.’’
Shackleford paid $27.20, $10.20 and $6.80. Animal Kingdom paid $4.20 and $3.60, and third-place finisher Astrology paid $8.
Once again, fans’ hopes to see a Triple Crown winner will have to wait for at least another year. The last horse to sweep the Derby, Preakness and Belmont Stakes was Affirmed in 1978.
Animal Kingdom trainer Graham Motion, who was full of hope and expectation at the start of the race, looked on glumly as his horse failed to catch Shackleford in time.
‘‘He ran huge,’’ Motion said. ‘‘I was hoping he was going to get there.’’
After shaking off his jitters, Shackleford broke alertly, as did Flashpoint. They dueled through a quick opening quarter-mile of 22.69 seconds.
‘‘It was fast, but he kind of pulled everyone else out of the race,’’
As the horses sped along, Animal Kingdom was running at the back of the 14-horse field.
‘‘I kind of had to hustle him out of there,’’ Animal Kingdom jockey John Velazquez said. ‘‘We lost a lot of ground in the first turn.’’
Flashpoint ran out of gas midway through the final turn, leaving Shackleford as the lone target for the closers. At that point, Animal Kingdom started to pick up the pace.
‘‘I knew that Animal Kingdom was the only horse who was able to come get me,’’ Castanon said.
But Shackleford refused to give up through the run to the finish line and emerged victorious.