06/12/2011 11:23AM

Kentucky Derby winner Animal Kingdom may try turf this summer

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Barbara D. Livingston
Animal Kingdom may be pointed to a turf race at Arlington Park in August.

ELMONT, N.Y. - Graham Motion, the trainer of Kentucky Derby winner Animal Kingdom, was to spend Sunday afternoon in Manhattan, taking in the Broadway musical “Wicked’’ with his family.

“It’ll be nice not to think about racing for a little while,’’ Motion said Sunday morning.

In particular, it will be nice not to think about Saturday’s Belmont Stakes, in which Animal Kingdom finished sixth after a disastrous start that nearly resulted in jockey John Velazquez being unseated from the horse a sixteenth of a mile into the race. Animal Kingdom made a bold rally from the half-mile to the quarter pole to reach contention before tiring in the stretch. He was beaten 9 1/4 lengths by upset winner Ruler On Ice.

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Motion said Sunday that Animal Kingdom came out of the race “pretty stiff,’’ but had no other structural damage. Animal Kingdom left Belmont Park by van shortly after 8 a.m. Sunday for three-hour ride back to his base at the Fair Hill Training Center in Maryland.

Motion said that Animal Kingdom would probably do nothing but jog for the next two weeks before training for a summer/fall campaign that will possibly begin with a start on the turf, perhaps in the Arlington Million or the $400,000 Secretariat. Both are Grade 1 races run at 1 1/4 miles at Arlington Park on Aug. 13. The Secretariat is restricted to 3-year-olds. The year-end goal is the Breeders’ Cup Classic on dirt at Churchill Downs - where Animal Kingdom won the Kentucky Derby five weeks ago  - in November.

In his only start on turf, Animal Kingdom finished second in a first-level allowance race at Gulfstream Park. However, he has two wins on synthetic surfaces, which generally favor turf horses.

“I think they are very prestigious races on a surface he handled very well,’’ Motion said. “It’s a logical thing to try. We ended up on the dirt by the nature of the Derby and Triple Crown being on dirt. I think he’s the kind of horse that handles pretty much anything.’’

Motion said that the timing of those Arlington races is “a good fit” and that he and Barry Irwin, the president of the Team Valor International syndicate that owns Animal Kingdom, must decide whether to run him once or twice between now and the Breeders’ Cup.