Animal Kingdom went out to the track at Fair Hill Training Center in Elkton, MD Wednesday morning for his first exercise since the Kentucky Derby. He arrived at the training center Tuesday after departing in a van from Churchill Downs that morning. Fair Hill, located about 60 miles Northeast of Pimlico, is Animal Kingdom trainer Graham Motion’s home base. Being on his own turf has to be settling for Motion before he takes on the challenge of capturing the 2nd leg of the Triple Crown.
Graham Motion feels his Kentucky Derby Champion is in the minority of great horses in that surface doesn’t effect his racing and that he can win on any. Because he became the first Kentucky Derby winner to have never raced on dirt, there shouldn’t be any questions regarding his training over the All Weather Surface at Fair Hill. Wednesday marked the first day of continuous works and gallops at the facility before making the short trip to Pimilco on Wednesday of next week. It has also been confirmed that Motion intends to stick with John Valezquez, so expect him to ride Animal Kingdom for only the 2nd time in the Preakness Stakes.
In other recent workout news, let’s take a look at a few horses entering the Preakness after missing the Derby due to choice or not being eligible. Astrology breezed six furlongs in 1:12.40 at Churchill Downs on May 9th. This colt got behind schedule early in the derby prep season due to illness but will be entering the Preakness following back to back 2nd place finishes in the Sunland Derby (3/27) and the Jerome Handicap (4/23). Dance City breezed 5 Furlongs in 1:01 at Churchill Downs on May 8th. Finishing 3rd, behind Archarcharch and Nehro, in the Arkansas Derby left him short of the graded stakes earnings he needed to qualify for the Kentucky Derby. Finally, Sway Away who would have run in the Derby had Uncle Mo scratched prior to the entry deadline, finished 6 furlongs in 1:11.60 on May 7th at Churchill Downs.
On the Jockey front, a few horses that look to be locks for the Preakness field have confirmed their riders. Though he has never rode him before, Ramon Dominguez and Trainer Todd Pletcher have a history of success together so he was the choice for Dance City. Master of Hounds has shipped back to Europe and is not likely to return until Fall for the 2011 Breeders Cup. Therefore, Garrett Gomez is available and will be returning to Sway Away and Trainer Jeff Bonde after being aboard for a 2nd place in the San Vicente and 6th place in the Rebel Stakes. After riding him for the first time and finishing 2nd in the Jerome Handicap, Mike Smith will stay aboard Astrology for Trainer Steve Asmussen. Finally, Cornelio Velasquez will remain in the irons with Flashpoint. He has been the only rider for trainer Wesley Ward in the colt’s 3 previous career starts (all in 2011).
Stay with us as we get closer to the Preakness Stakes which is now only 9 days away. With the new faces on the scene and those looking to bounce back like Lookin at Lucky in 2010, we’ll be sure to keep you up to date. Also, with target on his back, we’ll break down the field’s chances of eliminating a Triple Crown Bid for Animal Kingdom.
Written by: Little Brink