BALTIMORE — A year ago, Graham Motion was one of the most popular figures at Pimlico Race Course.
As the trainer of Kentucky Derby winner Animal Kingdom, Motion had the lone horse in the Preakness field with a shot at winning the Triple Crown.
“The pressure is on you,” the Englishman recalled Thursday. “The two weeks between the Derby and the Preakness, I felt like I was holding my breath. You’re kind of walking on egg shells, hoping everything is going great with the horse.”
Animal Kingdom came in second in the 2011 Preakness, a half-length behind Shackleford.
“We came that close,” Motion said, holding his index finger and thumb a half-inch apart. “I was quite shocked to see Shackleford’s picture on the grandstand when I drove in this morning. That was kind of a pit in my stomach.”
Motion will saddle Went the Day Well in the Preakness on Saturday. The bay colt finished fourth in the Derby two weeks ago but has won two of his four starts this year.
Went the Day Well was bumped at Churchill Downs and forced to go seven wide in an effort to catch up. He rallied gamely under John Velazquez, but couldn’t make up enough ground to finish in the money.
“It’s all about getting a good trip. There’s always going to be a horse in the Derby that doesn’t get a good trip, and that’s what makes it so hard to win the Triple Crown,” he said.
I’ll Have Another has assumed the role held by Animal Kingdom last year, and Motion is determined to deny the Derby winner from making it two in a row.
“We’re going to try our best to make sure it doesn’t happen,” Motion said. “We’re going to make it hard for him. Let’s put it that way.”