Kentucky Derby winner Animal Kingdom on target for 2013 Dubai World Cup

Animal Kingdom walking back to the barns after his Kentucky Derby win

2011 Kentucky Derby winner Animal Kingdom remains on target for the $10 million Dubai World Cup on March 30.  Animal Kingdom made a quick and surprising rush to the lead under jockey Joel Rosario midway down the backstretch in the Gulfstream Park Turf.   Ultimately he came coming in second to the winner, Point of Entry.

“Nothing’s changed as far as Dubai goes,” trainer Graham Motion said from the Fair Hill Training Center in Maryland on Monday. “I was very pleased with the way he came out of the race.”  Motion said he believes Animal Kingdom’s early move likely cost him the race.

“I think very clearly that Joel got pressured into making a premature move,” Motion said. “I was a little anxious going into the race having a rider who didn’t know the horse at all.”

Motion credited jockey John Velazquez with “a very smart race on Point of Entry, and the fact he knows my horse so well probably helped the situation.”  John Velazquez was the jockey that guided Animal Kingdom to victory in the 2011 Kentucky Derby.

“It was asking an awful lot of my horse to run from the five-eighths pole out,” Motion said. “Saying that, he got beat by a really good horse and it was not a disgrace by any means. What’s so phenomenal to me about Animal Kingdom is that he has such an extraordinary kick, he showed that in the Breeders’ Cup as well.”

“People want to say there were positives, but I don’t see anything positive about what happened yesterday,” a still frustrated Graham Motion said Sunday at Palm Meadows Training Center  “The horse had a hard race, but I think we got outsmarted. I don’t necessarily think it was all Joel’s fault. It’s a shame with this horse and my biggest concern going into this race was we were using a different jockey. Maybe that’s partly my fault. I think a lot of it is circumstances. It’s not often you win the Derby and you’re not able to get a jockey to stick with the horse. It’s just been circumstances more than anything. That’s my frustration about it.”

“We had to deal with it in the Breeders’ Cup,” Motion said. “Rosario didn’t give the horse a bad ride, he had an unlucky trip. I’m not a jockey critic. These guys make split-second decisions. I don’t think he did the right thing yesterday, but he doesn’t know the horse very well. Johnny actually won the race because he knows the horse so well.”

Animal Kingdom bounced back and was bright and alert Sunday morning, perhaps better than his trainer, who conceded earlier that he might not have enjoyed the most restful of evenings.

Motion said he is hoping to work Animal Kingdom three times at Palm Meadows Training Center near Gulfstream Park before sending him to Dubai for the World Cup. “I really want to get most of my work done with him over here,” Motion said. “I don’t think I want to work him in Dubai.”

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