NEW YORK (AP) — Kentucky Derby winner Animal Kingdom was made the 2-1 favorite for the Belmont Stakes, with Preakness winner Shackleford the third choice.

A field of 12 3-year-olds was entered Wednesday, and in a slight surprise, oddsmaker Eric Donovan went with Derby runner-up Nehro as the second choice at 4-1. Shackleford is 9-2 on the morning line for the first rubber match between Derby and Preakness winners since 2005.

Extra: Guide to the Belmont Stakes

Animal Kingdom, ridden by John Velazquez, will leave from the No. 9 post, which has produced only four Belmont winners since 1905. The colt trained by Graham Motion is attempting to become the 12th to complete a Derby-Belmont sweep. The last to succeed was Thunder Gulch in 1995.

“It doesn’t change anything for us,” Motion said of the post position.

Shackleford, with jockey Jesus Castanon aboard, will try to become the first Belmont winner out of the No. 12 post. The colt trained by Dale Romans also is attempting to become the 22nd Preakness-Belmont winner.

“It’s going to make Dale have to commit a little bit,” Motion added, a reference to whether Shackleford will go right for the lead from the start. “I don’t think he’s going to have a lot of choice. From my perspective, it’s not going to change anything.”

Nehro, with Corey Nakatani riding, has finished second in his last three starts. The colt drew the No. 6 post.

At 1 1/4 miles, the Belmont is the longest and most grueling of the Triple Crown races. Post position usually isn’t considered as vital as in the Derby and Preakness, but Motion believes it’s significant.

“It’s not a very long run to the first turn, so I do think it’s important,” he said. “I’m glad I’m not hung out there (like Shackleford).”

For the first time, the first seven finishers from the Derby will be running in the Belmont.

The field, from the rail out, is Master of Hounds (10-1), Stay Thirsty (20-1), Ruler On Ice (20-1), Santiva (15-10), Brilliant Speed (15-1), Nehro (4-1), Monzon (30-1), Prime Cut (15-1), Animal Kingdom (2-1), Mucho Macho Man (10-1), Isn’t He Perfect (30-1) and Shackleford (9-2).

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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