10/02/2012 12:07PM

Animal Kingdom to make return in Breeders' Cup Mile

Barbara D. Livingston
Animal Kingdom has made only one start since running in the 2011 Belmont Stakes.

Animal Kingdom, the 2011 Kentucky Derby winner, will make his first start since February in the Breeders’ Cup Mile, his connections announced Tuesday.

Animal Kingdom was being pointed to the Dubai World Cup this past winter when, in March, he developed a stress fracture of the ilium, a bone in the pelvis. The injury healed, Team Valor Stables reported, with 30 days of stall rest, and Animal Kingdom went back into training in June. He has worked steadily in recent weeks at trainer Graham Motion’s base at the Fair Hill training center in Maryland, breezing six times since Aug. 24, and a half-mile turf drill in 50.20 seconds Tuesday morning pleased his connections enough that the BC Mile plan was revealed.

“Coming off the layoff, the Mile just seems very logical for him,” Motion said in a Team Valor Stables news release. “He certainly has the turn of foot to handle it. The timing is right for his schedule coming back, and the caliber of horse that he is, you’re not going to look for a nice, easy spot.”

Animal Kingdom, who didn’t race during his 3-year-old season after finishing sixth in the Belmont Stakes, has made just two of his eight career starts on turf, and only once has started at a distance as short as a mile. That one-mile race came in his 3-year-old debut, when he finished second in a first-level turf allowance race. Animal Kingdom’s lone 2012 start produced a Gulfstream Park turf win going 1 1/16 miles.

“It’s a totally different situation than last winter when we ran him in the Gulfstream allowance to get ready for the Dubai World Cup,” Motion said in the release. “Going a mile, we feel he should be very fit for this race, and he deserves the opportunity.”

Animal Kingdom is a son of Leroidesanimaux, who finished second in the 2005 BC Mile and was named champion turf male that season.

Animal Kingdom’s attempt to win the BC Mile in his first start in more than eight months and second in almost 1 1/2 years harks back to Da Hoss. Da Hoss won his second BC Mile in 1998 while making his second start following a layoff of about two years.

The prospective field for the BC Mile is topped by Wise Dan, who was announced as a likely runner Saturday at Keeneland in the Shadwell Turf Mile.