09/18/2012 1:22PM

Animal Kingdom working toward fall return

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Megan Jones/Team Valor
Animal Kingdom has worked five times since returning to training following a fractured pelvis.

It is looking more likely that 2011 Kentucky Derby winner Animal Kingdom will return to the races this fall, but where and when is something his owner isn’t ready to reveal just yet.

On Tuesday, Animal Kingdom had his fifth workout since returning to training following a fractured pelvis suffered in March. He breezed four furlongs in 49 seconds on the turf at Fair Hill, working in company with the multiple graded stakes-winning turf horse Smart Bid, who is entered in Saturday’s $100,000 Alphabet Soup Handicap at Parx Racing.

According to Barry Irwin, head of the Team Valor International syndicate that owns the horse, Animal Kingdom is “doing great and is ahead of schedule” in his training. However, Irwin said he wanted Animal Kingdom to get a few more breezes in before he states where the horse would return.

“We got a race in mind for him, but we don’t want to reveal it because if we do and we don’t make it, we’re going to have to read all about it and hear all about it,” Irwin said. “After the horse has breezed five-eighths a couple of times and it looks like he’s going to make it, then we’ll come out with the race were pointing for.”

All options would seem to be open for Animal Kingdom as he has won twice on synthetic and once each on dirt and turf.

Appearing to throw cold water on those who would like to see Animal Kingdom run in a Breeders’ Cup race, Irwin said the race he’s considering “is not one many would be thinking about.”

Animal Kingdom, sidelined with a hock fracture following the 2011 Belmont Stakes, returned to win a turf allowance race in February at Gulfstream Park. In subsequent training for a start in the $10 Dubai World Cup at Meydan in March, Animal Kingdom was found to have a fractured pelvis.

He resumed training in early summer and has had five workouts – four on dirt – since Aug. 21.

Irwin, who said he has had offers from two Japanese and one England-based stallion farm, indicated he would like to run Animal Kingdom as a 5-year-old.

Forego137 More than 1 year ago
Anonymous this is a very gifted and talented dude and he will be ready to rumble come B.C.time, it won't take much for him to get back to G1 form. Finger's crossed. . . . ..
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
would you put your money on him in the Breeders Cup coming off that layoff? Me neither.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
He's not going to run in the Arc or Breeders Cup or any other high quality G1 off a 7 month layoff. His last race before that was the Belmont. I can't believe any of you think he's going to run in theJapan Cup, Arc, B.C. or Champions. No way, no how. Get real.
Grass Is Greener More than 1 year ago
His last race was a facile turf allowance race at Gulfstream Park going 8.5f in mid February of this year. His coming race is an equally facile turf allowance going 8.5f, except this time it's at Keeneland on opening Sunday.
Vinod Jhangimal More than 1 year ago
Breeder´s Cup Turf would be my guess. They run at a moderate pace, not too many horses, if the jockey feels anything is amiss he has plenty of time and space to pull him up. Plus, it is easier on his feet.
Grass Is Greener More than 1 year ago
Top contenders in the turf: 1) Point of Entry 2) St. Nicholas Abbey 3) Acclamation 4) Snow Fairy 5) Farhh 6) Sea Moon 7) Bayrir 8) Dullahan 9) Treasure Beach 10-12) some other proven 12f turf horses Forget it. Way too tough, they won't be going there. Animal Kingdom is still unproven at 12f.
Grass Is Greener More than 1 year ago
The obvious comeback races are: First race back - a turf allowance at Keeneland 2nd race - The Fayette long-term: G3 turf stakes at Gulfstream, then the Gulfstream Park Turf or the Donn as final prep for the Dubai World Cup which I don't understand because only frontrunners and pace pressers can succeed at going 10f on the Tapeta at Meydan - the World Cup is perfect for Wise Dan
Thomas Cook More than 1 year ago
This horse has limited starts left with his injury issues. I don't see them wasting them in allowance races. Fayette to Clark from there who knows???
Grass Is Greener More than 1 year ago
The Keeneland racing secretary has already written the 8.5f turf allowance for opening Sunday. It's an open allowance for horses that haven't won a race since March 2012 that is not a maiden or claiming race. This race will fill. Animal Kingdom's schedule: - 9/24: 5f work - 9/30: 5f work - 10/2: ship to Keeneland - 10/7: run in the aforementioned 8.5f turf allowance at KEE - 10/27: target the G2 9f Fayette - longer term: most likely ship to Gulfstream for a turf stakes in the first week of January 2013 followed by either the G1 Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap or the G1 Donn on dirt as final prep for the Dubai World Cup. If the horse is doing *exceptionally* well after the Fayette, ship to California for Hollywood Park's Turf Festival, followed by the San Gabriel at Santa Anita, and the Big Cap as final prep for the Dubai World Cup. - primary objective: Dubai World Cup Animal Kingdom is a nice horse. I wish him the best.
Thomas Cook More than 1 year ago
You seem to have a little more info than I do. So I guess I will concede based upon your prophesy. Either way he goes, I wish him the best.
Grass Is Greener More than 1 year ago
This is what the connection has chosen, not what I wish or think he should be running. If this is my horse, I would run in as many big races as possible, with instructions to the jockey not to push the issues - for example, do not make the splashy wide move after the disastrous start in the Belmont Stakes. I would agree with the Keeneland 8.5f turf allowance as the comeback race. The Keeneland turf course is usually friendly to closers in the fall, he should run well the race. The Shadwell Turf Mile would be too tough and a little short. Then it's definitely off to the Breeders' Cup Classic. The Classic this year should not overfill. Even if it does, I believe the selection committee would have the Derby winner ranked fairly high to make the cut. I definitely also target the Dubai World Cup even though his chances are not good - in all 3 runnings of the World Cup on the Tapeta surface in Meydan, the frontrunners entering the stretch have pretty much finished amongst themselves under the wire. It would require a change in tactic. The jockey will have to use some horse to track the pace closely. This is highly doable since 10f races overseas tend to develop at pretty slow pace. That's why past US-based winners of the World Cup like Curlin, Invasor, Street Cry and Pleasantly Perfect were pressing the pace closely up front in contrast to their regular closing style back home. Unfortunately American based trainers and jockeys seem to have forgotten our winning strategies. It was particularly annoying watching the 2011 edition in which Gio Ponti, as if having a mind of his own, wanted to go with Victoire Pisa when that eventual winner made his decisive run for the lead at the backstretch. Ramon Dominguez strangled him back resulting in Gio Ponti throwing his head around - I do not recall ever seeing this horse being so ranked, it was as if he knew he had to go right there and then. True to it, the first six horses to enter the stretch finish 1, 3, 2 , 4, 5, 6 in the 2011 World Cup. For 2013, I think we have a really good to regain our past glory. Wise Dan should sit a perfect trip in the race, and I think they can coax some early speed into Animal Kingdom. Dullahan is screwed, this horse has absolutely no early foot. It would be interesting to see who Johnny V chooses to ride in the World Cup - Wise Dan or Animal Kingdom.
Alvaro Bailon More than 1 year ago
I've got a gut feeling he is pointing towards the BC Classic off the layoff. The division isn't as strong as in years past. Also the horse is that good.
chad mc rory More than 1 year ago
Is this really a good idea for this fine Colt?
Thomas Cook More than 1 year ago
Chad, we both know that owners of Irwin's wealth and influence put tons of pressure on trainers. Graham is top notch. I'm sure he is doing all he can to prolong and protect the health of Animal Kingdom.
mike More than 1 year ago
I dont see them shipping AK out of the United States in his comeback race......If they do, I doubt he does well. Keep him close to home.
aqua racer More than 1 year ago
If it does happen to be the Fayette/Clark - only other horse publically pointing to it would be Take Charge Indy. That could be an interesting match up with both coming back off long layoffs.
russell More than 1 year ago
Arc or Champion stakes??? I seriously doubt that. I can't remember the last time a US based horse even ran in the Arc. And running against Frankel after a 7 month layoff doesnt make much sense.
jonathan yarde More than 1 year ago
Hi russell - folks just posting nonsense to stir up debate I guess. Either that or on drugs. Personally I think that this is a fragile animal, and Irwin & co should just be happy that he's still around. Off to stud I say!
BrandonLayer More than 1 year ago
Fayette then Clark
Ian Phillips More than 1 year ago
the race wil be belmont park grade3 knickerbocker hdcap. same like his comeback race earlier at gulfstream park.