11/15/2012 4:04PM

Animal Kingdom to prep for Dubai World Cup in Gulfstream Park Turf

Barbara D. Livingston
Animal Kingdom comes off a spectacular second to Wise Dan in the Breeders' Cup Mile.

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. – Animal Kingdom, who turned in one of the top performances in this year’s Breeders’ Cup when finishing a troubled second behind Wise Dan in the Mile, will launch his 2013 campaign on Feb. 9 in the Grade  1 Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap at 1 1/8 miles, his connections announced on Wednesday. Trainer Graham Motion is using that race as a prep for Animal Kingdom’s first major goal next season, the $10  million Dubai World Cup seven weeks later.

“I just didn’t want to be in a hurry to run him after the Breeders’ Cup,” Motion said when explaining his choice for Animal Kingdom’s return. “He was on a very rigid schedule to get to the Breeders’ Cup and it was pretty tough on him, not that he’s shown any signs of it coming out of the race. We chose the Gulfstream Park Turf because it’s a Grade 1, it’s a great distance for him, we already knows he likes the course, and the timing is perfect to get him to Dubai. It was just a very logical choice.”

Animal Kingdom arrived at his winter home at Palm Meadows last week and will have a couple of weeks of being turned out and jogging before returning to regular training later this month. “I’ll be down next week and will start galloping him then,” said Motion. “He probably won’t have his first work until the middle of December. He’ll do all his prep work over the turf course at Palm Meadows, just like he did before the Derby when I still didn’t know he was a Derby horse.”

Motion said he’s just delighted to have been able to get Animal Kingdom back to the races again after the 2011 Kentucky Derby winner suffered a second severe injury, a fractured pelvis, preparing for the World Cup in Florida last spring. Animal Kingdom had exited the 2011 Belmont Stakes with a hind leg fracture nine months earlier.

“It’s so cool and exciting to have him back,” said Motion. “He came out of his last race super but obviously he’s a fragile horse so I just hope he stays sound. Naturally there’s a sense of what might have been in the Breeders’ Cup had he had a cleaner trip but at the same time his performance justified the fact that I wanted to run him in there. It was a big move for him but I always felt he was up to it.”