Team Valor International, owner of 2011 Kentucky Derby winner Animal Kingdom, has announced that Maryland-based trainer Graham Motion is once again hoping to prep the horse for a run in the $10 million Dubai World Cup next spring.
Animal Kingdom finished a charging second in the Breeders' Cup Mile on Nov. 3, despite not racing for 259 days while recovering from a small fracture -- his second such injury since the 2011 Belmont. The colt stood in Motion's barn in Fair Hill for the beginning of the year, as Motion trained his best 3-year-olds toward this year's Kentucky Derby. Eventually Animal Kingdom was let out in grassy areas near the barn -- that's one of Motion's favorite things about Fair Hill -- and began conditioning again a few weeks later.
Team Valor CEO Barry Irwin called Motion's work with Animal Kingdom "a great feat of horsemanship."
Motion has decided to take Animal Kingdom back to the turf -- he'd never raced on dirt before winning the Derby -- in the Grade 1 Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap on Feb. 9.
“I like the timing, the spacing and the surface,” Motion said.
Animal Kingdom will then have 50 days until the March 30 renewal of the 10-furlong World Cup in Dubai.
“I like racing him on grass again, because it is kinder on horses, and he won over the Gulfstream Park course this year and showed a liking for it,” Motion said. “He also raced on the grass a year earlier at 3. So he should feel at home.
“As for getting used to the track in Dubai, it is made of Tapeta and while it may not be exactly the same as our course at home or the one as Presque Isle, it should be close enough, so that I am not worried about how he will handle it.”
Animal Kingdom finished second in the 2011 Preakness, failing to catch Shackleford at the end.