Kentucky Derby winner Animal Kingdom starts workouts

2011 Kentucky Derby winner Animal Kingdom breezed on December 24 for the first time since he was injured during the Belmont Stakes last June 11th.

Owned by Team Valor International, Animal Kingdom breezed the three furlongs in  :38 at Fair Hill Training Center in Elkton, Maryland, for trainer Graham Motion.  Kentucky Derby winner Animal Kingdom had been galloping regularly for Motion leading up to his first timed breeze since surgery.

“It was like an open gallop for him,” Motion said. “The track was in great  shape [Saturday]. He went in company just to keep his mind on business.  I thought he handled it well.”

Motion said that Animal Kingdom weighed 1,300 pounds when he returned to training. Motion is not sure if Animal Kingdom will be moved to Palm Meadows Training Center in South Florida or if he will remain at Fair Hill as he prepares for his return to racing.Kentucky Derby winner walking on shed row at Churchill Downs

“The weather has been holding up well and he likes it here,” Motion said. “I wouldn’t mind breezing him here a few more times, as long as the dirt and Tapeta (synthetic footings surface) stay as good as they are right now.”

Animal Kingdom’s connections are considering a race at Gulfstream Park or Meydan Race Course in Dubai in February or early March for his comeback. That race would serve as a steppingstone to the $10-million Emirates Airline Dubai World Cup on March 31.

“It’s all up to the colt and how quickly he gets himself into shape,” Motion said. “He is a big horse and he grew during his layoff. Ideally, I’d like to be able to run him in a race like the Gulfstream Park Handicap on February 11, but if he fails to make that race, we always have the option of sending him over to Dubai early and giving him a race over there.”

After winning the Kentucky Derby and finishing second in the Preakness Stakes, Animal Kingdom was injured in the Belmont Stakes.  He underwent surgery for a hairline fracture to his left hind leg.