The stage is being set for the 143rd running of the Belmont Stakes, which will take place this Saturday, June 11, post time 6:35 pm, in New York. Two Maryland horses are entered in this third leg of the Triple Crown.

Team Valor International’s Animal Kingdom traveled from the Fair Hill Training Center on Sunday and has already trained on the Belmont track. The Derby winner, who finished second in the Preakness, will be ridden by John Velazquez out of the ninth post position.

Barry Irwin of Team Valor and Preakness winner Shackleford’s trainer Dale Romans swapped some fun words during the Belmont Stakes Media Luncheon on Tuesday. Irwin said, “I’m not concerned at all about Shackleford. Mucho Macho Man is the horse I’m worried about.” Romans replied, “That’s not the dumbest thing that Barry’s ever said, but it’s close.” Shackleford drew the 12th and final post position for the Belmont.

Sagamore Farm’s Monzon skipped the Derby and the Preakness after being laid up for most of the spring season. The gelding, bred by Maryland’s Kevin Plank, is by Thunder Gulch and will head up to Belmont Saturday morning. Monzon had a bad go on February 12 in the Grade 3 Sam F. Davis at Tampa Bay Downs and has been regrouping ever since. He returned to racing on May 14 in the Grade 2 Peter Pan at Belmont, where he finished sixth.

Trainer Ignacio Correas said about the Belmont, “My take on the mile and a half is we need speed and a setup. He’s not a champion, but when he has a setup he runs good. I respect Shackleford and Animal Kingdom, but I hope someone goes to the lead and maybe they’ll fall back.” Correas hopes Monzon’s break from post seven will be the setup he needs to run to the front of the Belmont Stakes.

The New York Racing Association, Inc. and Team Valor International founder/CEO Barry Irwin rang the opening bell this morning at the NASDAQ Stock Market