09/06/2012 5:01PM

Animal Kingdom continues to make progress for his return

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Barbara D. Livingston
Animal Kingdom could be ready to return to racing as early as late October, according to trainer Graham Motion.

Animal Kingdom, the 2011 Kentucky Derby winner, continues to progress toward a return to the races, posting his third workout in 16 days Wednesday at the Fair Hill training center in North East, Md.

Trainer Graham Motion said Thursday that if Animal Kingdom continues to progress, he could be ready to return to the races in late October or early November. While Motion said he is not under any pressure from owner Barry Irwin to make a particular race, nor has he picked out a specific spot, he has not ruled out anything, including a Breeders’ Cup race.

When asked if it would be ridiculous to think about the Breeders’ Cup, Motion said, “I don’t think anything is too ridiculous with this caliber of horse.”

Motion added that when Animal Kingdom is ready to run, “I don’t feel like I’m going to go fishing around for a nice, cushy spot.”

Motion said that while Animal Kingdom had his first three breezes on dirt, he would likely start training him on the turf beginning next week. Motion said the turf would be a kinder surface on which to bring Animal Kingdom back. In February, Animal Kingdom came off a nine-month layoff to win a third-level turf allowance race by two lengths at Gulfstream Park.

Motion was using that as a prep for the $10 million Dubai World Cup in March but had to scrap those plans when Animal Kingdom was diagnosed with the beginnings of a stress fracture in his pelvic region in early March.

Animal Kingdom was given ample time to recover from that injury and only returned to the work tab on Aug. 21. On Wednesday, he worked four furlongs in 48.40 seconds in company with the 4-year-old allowance horse Meistersinger.

“I couldn’t be happier with him,” Motion said of Animal Kingdom. “You hold your breath every time you work him because of who he is, but I feel like he’s moving and doing a little better now than he was in the spring – not that he wasn’t doing any good in the spring. I want to have a chance to get him back to the races, but we’re not going to compromise anything.”