Updated on 01/27/2012 3:48PM

Gulfstream Park: Animal Kingdom gets serious with Palm Meadows turf work

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Barbara D. Livingston
Animal Kingdom worked five furlongs over the turf course at Palm Meadows in 59.98 on Wednesday.

BOYNTON BEACH, Fla. – Trainer Graham Motion was awakened about 3 a.m. Wednesday by the sound of rain pounding on the roof of his home. As the rain continued for the better part of an hour, Motion lay awake thinking that his plan to work his 3-year-old champion Animal Kingdom a few hours later would have to be changed.

Or, as Motion succinctly put it, “I thought we were screwed.”

Fortunately, that wasn’t the case and as pleased as he was to learn he could get the work in, Motion was even more happy after Animal Kingdom breezed five furlongs in 59.98 seconds over the Palm Meadows turf course.

In what was his most serious move since returning to training last fall, Animal Kingdom, under exercise rider David Nava, began his work approximately 10 lengths behind stablemates Eagle Poise and Deal Making.

Animal Kingdom went in fractions of 13.11 seconds, 25.01, and 36.33 for three furlongs. Animal Kingdom got his final quarter in 23.65 while finishing two lengths behind his workmates at the wire. Animal Kingdom proceeded to gallop out past his stablemates going six furlongs in 1:12.17, seven furlongs in 1:26.19, and he pulled up a mile in 1:41.50.

“That was a serious move,’’ Motion said shortly afterward. “He’s been going halves in 50 and change. He was in need of a serious work, he got a serious work today. He had to ask him to do it.”

While most of the turf works on Wednesday were done around a triple set of traffic cones, referred to as dogs, Animal Kingdom worked inside of the cones, as all stakes horses are permitted to do.

Motion said it was not his original intent to have Animal Kingdom break off that far behind his workmates, but in the end he was okay with how it worked out.

“I think that’s David just getting him to relax,” Motion said. “I kind of left it up to him, but I said five or six lengths. David does a really good job on Animal Kingdom; he knows him really well. He’s a little bit tricky, and he’s a little deceiving. In the end, they finished together right after the wire, and he got to gallop out.”

Animal Kingdom, the Kentucky Derby winner, has not run since finishing sixth in the Belmont Stakes, a race from which he emerged with a hind leg fracture. His connections are hoping to get Animal Kingdom to the $10 million Dubai World Cup on March 31, with a possible return race in the Grade 1 Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap on Feb. 11.