Belmont Stakes 2011: Animal Kingdom's Owner 'Not Worried About Shackleford'

Now that the post positions and odds for Saturday's 143rd running of the Belmont Stakes have been established and the heavy workouts have been run it is time to wait -- and to talk about what might happen Saturday. A little trash talk never hurt the pre-race buildup, and we already have a little.

Animal Kingdom, winner of the Kentucky Derby is the early 2-1 favorite, and it seems the horse's owner, Barry Irwin, took a shot at Preakness Stakes winner Shackleford on Wednesday.

The owner of Kentucky Derby winner Animal Kingdom fired the first salvo at a news conference in Manhattan on Tuesday, dissing Preakness winner Shackleford’s chances of winning Saturday’s final leg of the Triple Crown.

"I’m not worried about Shackleford, by the way," said Barry Irwin of Team Valor International, which owns Animal Kingdom. "I’m worried about Mucho Macho Man. I think he’s the horse to beat."

His comments drew oohs and aahs from those in attendance, including Shackleford’s trainer Dale Romans. When it was his turn to step up to the podium, Romans retaliated.

"That’s not the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard Barry say, but it’s one of them," Romans said to much laughter.

We will have to wait until Saturday to see if Irwin is right. Post time is 6:35 p.m. ET.

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