09/06/2012 4:01PM

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.”

Richard More than 1 year ago
Look what Sean Avery did last year! Twice he was sidelined for a bowed tendon, given the time to heal, and now he’s in a non graded stakes race today at Belmont on his surface and distance and ready to go! Barry Irwin and Graham Motion are not going to do anything to ruin Animal Kingdom which would jeopardize his price for stud.
Kimberly Shugars More than 1 year ago
I saw him at Fair Hill a month ago jogging on the track and in the barn and he looked amazing and what a HAM...LOL, he was eating peppermints out of my hand and showing off big time. I have a great picture of him with his head sideways shaking it in a yes motion. I can't wait to see him back on the track. Would like to thank Barry Irwin for giving AK the time to heal and did not retire him. They know they have an awesome horse on their hands and are willing to give him the time to prove it. I wish more owners thought this way (UNION RAGS, BODEMIESTER) Incidently, I saw Union Rags the same day I saw Aminal Kingdom and he looked dead fit and ready to race (that was a few days before they announced he was going to Lane's End). I know a lot of people were hoping that they would put him back in training, myself included but sadly that is not to be. Wishing Animal Kingdom safe racing and good luck.
[removed] More than 1 year ago
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Christine Race More than 1 year ago
I second that "motion"...all class
tom More than 1 year ago
I really felt that Animal Kingdom would have an Alysheba-isk type 4yr old campaign. Obviously this injury thwarted that. I still think that he will be a dynamite performer in future races. He just has too much all-around talent..on any surface...in any condition. Team Valor and Graham Motion know exactly what kind of powder keg they have in this horse...and in a few months short, he will be released upon the racing world.
Zakk W. More than 1 year ago
I wish they would retire this horse. He's already proven himself to the world. Why take a chance that something serious could happen, he's a fragile horse.
Tom More than 1 year ago
"proven himself to the world", huh. Another longshot winner, & a grade 3 race at Latonia.
JoyJackson21 More than 1 year ago
He proved himself in the biggest race of all, the Kentucky Derby. And MOST Kentucky Derby winners in the last half century have been long shotsin . The talent level is so closely grouped that being a long shot in that race should not be looked down upon, nor does it mean the horse has a lot less talent as a horse. Beng the favorite in the Kentucky Derby, or being a front-runner type of horse, does not mean you have the best percentage of winning the Run for the Roses, than say, in the Wood Memorial at Aqueduct.
mrm More than 1 year ago
Thank god for those drug free German blood lines that promote amazingly sound thoroughbreds.
Sam Shelby More than 1 year ago
Why cant there be a blog without a stupid doping comment?
Scott More than 1 year ago
Go to teamvalor.com. Mr Irwin does occasional updates on AK's progress.
gerwhited More than 1 year ago
And if he's ready why not the Breeders’ Cup ,he has nothing to lose & everything to gain !!??
Ponies Payme More than 1 year ago
He could lose the BC. That would be something!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I hope they keep him on turf and synthetics so he doesn't get hurt again. Nothing wrong with being a top notch turf horse. Maybe next year he could go to France for the Arc. It would be nice to have an American turf horse who could win a race like the Arc. If he does go in the Breeders Cup then the Turf would be a good spot I think. He can lope along in the earyl phases then sprint home.
Rob Beaudoin More than 1 year ago
Horses can't get hurt on Turf or synthetic?? C'mon, if he's gonna get hurt he's gonna get hurt
Albert More than 1 year ago
While I would love to have this horse in my barn, I am really glad I don't have to make the decision about racing him. His last injury might suggest there are more bone-related problems to come. We see horses like this in races every day. You can train them up to a race, get a good run or a couple of good races and then they lay up again. I think that's why Motion isn't looking for an easy spot. He's afraid that he may only have a limited number of runs, so he's going to try to make them count. Good luck to the connections and good luck to the horse.
Ponies Payme More than 1 year ago
Absolutely, ALBERT THE VET. It's all bad. the horse is going to die and you called it!! wow.