Pine Grove-bred Angel of Empire sitting out the Preakness, resting for the Belmont Stakes

May 19—Angel of Empire, the Pine Grove-bred thoroughbred that was favored to win the Kentucky Derby, will be taking it easy when the 148th Preakness Stakes is run Saturday at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore.

Doug Black, co-owner of the farm where Angel of Empire was raised, said the 3-year-old's trainers have decided not to run him in the Preakness.

Instead, they're resting him for the Belmont Stakes, which runs June 10 in Elmont, N.Y.

"Pimlico is a shorter track that favors speed," Black said. "Angel needs to get up a head of steam and give a final kick."

Starting next to last, Angel of Empire came on strong at the end of the Kentucky Derby and finished third, a head behind second place Two Phil's.

At 1 1/16 mile, Pimlico is the shortest of the three tracks in thoroughbred racing's Triple Crown. The Kentucky Derby is 1 1/4 miles, and the Belmont Stakes is the longest at 1 1/2 miles.

"He'll have five weeks rest," Black said, "and he'll do his thing at the Belmont."

Angel of Empire was born April 9, 2020, at Blackstone Farm in Pine Grove.

Black, the farm's co-owner, said he was a gangly, long-legged colt suited more for long distance than speed.

Black's partner, Chris Black (no relation), was the colt's breeder and owner. He sold him to Albaugh Family Stables in Iowa, the horse's current owners, for $70,000 in 2021.

Angel of Empire had won more than $1 million prior to entering the Kentucky Derby. He won the Arkansas Derby by four lengths in April, qualifying him for the Kentucky Derby.

Because it's such a long race, Doug Black says, Angel of Empire is in a good position to win the Belmont Stakes.

"He's got a good mind and a good heart," he said. "All he needs to do is to stay healthy."

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