After a disappointing move at Keeneland last Saturday, Team Valor’s Animal Kingdom got the workout his connections were hoping to see this morning.
The Vinery Racing Spiral Stakes winner had his first move over the Churchill Downs track and final serious work before the Kentucky Derby on Saturday, covering six furlongs in company in 1:13.
Animal Kingdom’s breeze at Keeneland last week did not go as planned when his stablemate Meistersinger struggled over the synthetic surface and didn’t break off as necessary, resulting in a slower time of 1:02 2/5 for five furlongs.
Things were much more pleasant in the aftermath of the colt’s latest move, however. With Robby Albarado up, Animal Kingdom registered splits of 12 2/5, 24 4/5, 37 1/5, 49 1/5 with a gallop out in 1:26 2/5.
“As screwed up as everything was last week, I thought everything went perfectly today,” trainer Graham Motion said. “I feel about 98 percent better than I did a week ago.”
Animal Kingdom has not started on the dirt before, so Saturday’s work was also crucial in terms of getting a sense of how he would handle the surface on Derby day.
“I don’t see an issue now, not with the way he just worked,” Motion said. “The whole thing with having Robby work him is he’s a professional, he knows this track, and no one is going to know better than him how a horse is going to handle it. He actually looked for things he could knock about the breeze and he couldn’t find one.”