04/19/2013 2:58PM

Motion weighing Royal Ascot options for Animal Kingdom

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Barbara D. Livingston
Animal Kingdom ran second to Wise Dan, North America’s Horse of the Year, in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Mile.

FAIR HILL, Md. – While Graham Motion was back at his Fair Hill training center base Friday morning overseeing his large stable, his mind rarely wanders far from England, where his prized pupil Animal Kingdom is preparing for what is expected to be his final race at the Royal Ascot meeting in June.

What has yet to be determined is whether Animal Kingdom will run in the Queen Anne Stakes on June 18 – the first race of the meeting and the same race Frankel won last year – or the Prince of Wales’s Stakes on June 19. The Queen Anne is a mile, while the Prince of Wales’s is run at 1 1/4 miles.

While Animal Kingdom has won the Kentucky Derby and the Dubai World Cup, both at 1 1/4 miles, Motion believes the Queen Anne is a very intriguing option.

“I think that mile and a quarter could conceivably be a lot more grueling than our mile and a quarter, depending on the going and everything,” Motion said Friday at cloudy Fair Hill. “I think the mile is an interesting option. It’s a demanding mile. It’s up and down hill. He’s shown he can do a mile, and I think it could be a good fit for him.”

Animal Kingdom showed his prowess at a mile when he ran a troubled second to Wise Dan, North America’s Horse of the Year, in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Mile.

Motion also brought up the possibility of reuniting Animal Kingdom with jockey John Velazquez, who rode him to victory in the Kentucky Derby.

Motion said that Velazquez has experience riding at Royal Ascot, whereas Joel Rosario, who was aboard for the Dubai World Cup victory on March 30, does not.

“Barry,” Motion said, referring to Team Valor International president Barry Irwin, “said it best when he said it’s almost unfair to Joel to throw him in there on that course. It’s not like he could ride a race there.” The Queen Anne, he said, “is the first race at the meet if we ran there.”

“The fact that Johnny knows the horse, he’s ridden the horse, and he’s ridden at Ascot – it makes it fairly logical,” Motion added. “But it’s still something we’re talking about.”

Motion returned to the United States on Wednesday after spending three days in England, where Animal Kingdom is based at David Lanigan’s Kingsdown Stables, about 45 minutes from Ascot.

“I think he’s doing great,” Motion said. “He lost a little bit of condition, which he probably still has to put on. He’s getting there, and I think he looks very well. He’s very settled, like he’s been there for a long time.”

Motion plans to return to England in a couple of weeks to walk the turf course at Royal Ascot and watch Animal Kingdom have a workout.

Bellwether4U More than 1 year ago
Can't wait for JV to get back as I just love to see that man ride...Flying him to Ascot to ride AK is a no brainer Slim...
Bruce Baudoux More than 1 year ago
The no brainer would be to get the leading rider in England who is very familiar with the course to ride him. The horse is a champion and will respond to any professional rider. Yes John V has got great run from him as has Joel Rosario and even Robbie Albarado to a point. Get the best available rider and the job will get done if the horse is good enough.
fourroads910 More than 1 year ago
Johnny V would give him to perfect ride at royal ascot an a chances to win
Grazyna Mianska More than 1 year ago
Animal Kingdom will be lucky to win at Ascot. For sure he would not win the Prince of Wales. He is just not good enough.
Eric Rickard More than 1 year ago
Really!!
Lenny Mamola More than 1 year ago
Horse just won the richest race on the planet and you say he is not good enough ?????
Mark Dawson More than 1 year ago
pfffft. it wont be lack of talent that gets him beat, if anything does. Plus,if you know as much as you pretend to about Royal scot, youll know the Queen anne usually a higher quality field.(i.e Frankel, Goldikova etc)
AZ Wildcat More than 1 year ago
Another Euro sniffer who believes that only a Euro can run on grass. Take a look at the pedigrees on those super Euros and tell me if you see anything with "US" next to their name, you know like Northern Dancer or Mr. prospector or Street Cry or Arch or AP Indy or... Keep your snobbery to yourself Junior, because it is pretty obvious that horse racing ain't one on your fortes...
Black More than 1 year ago
You tell him Steve :) One problem with Motion's logic though. AK is ofer at 8f.
Kimberly Shugars More than 1 year ago
AZ, You should have left off Street Cry as he is registered as Irish bred.
joseph More than 1 year ago
Are you blind? Do you see the picture? Did you see the $10 Million workout? Never mind, your shirt explains things.
Sharjil Ahmad More than 1 year ago
Awesome...... hahaha
nysteve27 More than 1 year ago
Very funny shirt comment, well done
Christopher Clark More than 1 year ago
your a fool, with a foolish statement
ctgreyhound More than 1 year ago
Balderdash!
Sharjil Ahmad More than 1 year ago
I think you got admired enough !!! And you rightfully deservee it
Meydan Rocks More than 1 year ago
LOL Grazyna Mianska!! Sometimes what you say actually makes you look you know... In horse racing, and also in life.. no one knows anything. So it's best not to jump in with too big a splash! :-))
John Smith More than 1 year ago
Barry Irwin after the Dubai World Cup: " It was nice to get a great ride from Joel after he gave us such a bone-headed ride at Gulfstream." What a nice thing to say after that jock just won the world's richest race for you. Great trainer, horse, and jockey. Thought Irwin was an ok guy. Then he opened his mouth and only garbage came out.
Ann Mitchell Adam More than 1 year ago
You just have to be there to really know! lololol Have you been talking to Priscilla lately?
Meydan Rocks More than 1 year ago
John, The one thing you can't deny is Barry has earned the right to spout what you consider to be garbage. It's call "put up or shut up" and I'm afraid Barry has put it up big time! :-))
Matt More than 1 year ago
Rosario only needs to see a photograph of Ascot on the internet and he will win on Animal Kingdom geared down under wraps! Boom
tom More than 1 year ago
im pretty sure rosario has ridden at ascot as well
joakim muth More than 1 year ago
No he has not, only 4 active US Jockeys have experiance riding Ascot, Gary Stevens, Johnny V, Mike Smith and the Jock that rode for Weasly Ward over there.
Brandon Layer More than 1 year ago
Looks like it will be the Queen Anne since the Ascot mile and a quarter is too "grueling" for our Kentucky Derby and World Cup winner. Jeez. I pretty sure that all the horses have to run on the same grueling track in the Prince of Wales's. I think it would be cool if AK was known for being unbeatable at the American Classic distance of 1 1/4 miles. I don't know why Motion is scared. He's got the horse.
jay More than 1 year ago
I also can't believe he said that.
chad mc rory More than 1 year ago
The man spoke openly and honestly. He does that.
Sharjil Ahmad More than 1 year ago
It is very simple.... the horse has proven to be a classic distance horse. He has ALMOST proven to be a very good miler. From the stallion piint of view, rhey need to prove him as an excellent miler as well. That's the main reason for the mile race. Plus with horses closing like crazy in european races, they will think prince of wales is goin g to be too much grueling and a difficult spot. Plus imo queen anne is going to help his stud career better. HE DOESNT NEED TO PROVE AT CLASSIC DISTANCE ANY MORE
Meydan Rocks More than 1 year ago
Grueling because this horse has travelled to the desert and won under those conditions. D Wayne Lucas famously said.. horses are like strawberries. They fine until suddenly you wake up and they've gone bad. Motion doesn't want that to happen to his "prized pupil". Remember AK is doing all this travel, race and win stuff for the very first time. Why tempt fate?? There ain't no shame in winning a G1 mile at Ascot either. I'm just sayin...