BOYNTON BEACH, Fla. – If trainer Graham Motion had his druthers, the Grade 1 Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap would be run next weekend, not on Feb. 9 as scheduled. That’s how good his 2011 Kentucky Derby winner Animal Kingdom is doing in preparation for his much-anticipated 2013 debut.
Going in company with regular workmate Badleroibrown, Animal Kingdom breezed five furlongs in 1:02.08 on Monday morning at Palm Meadows. Animal Kingdom broke off three lengths behind his target and posted splits of 13.08 seconds, 25.26, and 38.01 for the opening three-eighths, ran by his stablemate near midstretch without much encouragement while finishing strongly into a very stiff headwind, then proceeded to gallop out six furlongs in 1:13.77 and pull up seven-eighths in 1:28.74.
Motion is planning to use the Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap as a prep for Animal Kingdom for the $10 million Dubai World Cup on March 30. Ramon Dominguez will be aboard Animal Kingdom for the first time in the Gulfstream Park Handicap.
“The horse is doing great,” Motion said. “I have to keep reminding myself the race is still four weeks away and that he’s still got three more works to go. It’s kind of frustrating in a way, because he’s ready to go now. But the timing of the race is very good. It would even be better if it was two weeks from now, because it would give him even more time to get over it, but overall the timing is perfect. We’re just kind of treading water with him at the moment. I don’t want him to be flat out at this point. I told my rider to just let him go around there easily and let him finish up strong, and that’s exactly what he did.”
Animal Kingdom and Badleroibrown were the only horses permitted to work inside the dogs, which were positioned well out into the course Monday at Palm Meadows.
“They have been allowing horses training for graded stakes to work inside the dogs up here,” Motion said. “I believe Tom Bush also worked his good grass horse Unbridled Command inside the dogs here last week.”
Unbridled Command also is a candidate for the Gulfstream Park Turf, having won his last five starts, including the Grade 1 Hollywood Derby. He breezed five furlongs in 1:00.60 inside the dogs last Thursday morning at Palm Meadows.