Team Valor International’s Kentucky Derby (gr. I) winner Animal Kingdom visited the track at the Fair Hill Training Center in Elkton, Md. for the first time Wednesday, May 11 as he began preparations for the Preakness Stakes (gr. I) on May 21.
Trainer Graham Motion sent the son of Leroidesanimaux out to the track at 8:30 a.m. EDT for his first piece of exercise since the colt captured the Derby on May 7 at Churchill Downs. Animal Kingdom walked Sunday and Monday and spent much of Tuesday in a van on the trip from Kentucky to the Motion’s barn at the training center, which is about 60 miles northeast of Pimlico Race Course.
“He went out and jogged one mile with the pony with my assistant Dave Rock,” Motion said. “He’s super. Really good.”
Animal Kingdom was transferred to Motion’s care during the winter and moved into his barn at the Palm Meadows Training Center in Florida. He went directly to Kentucky for the Derby and set foot in Maryland for the first time when he stepped off the van on Tuesday.
Motion said the homebred colt will go to the track at the same time on Thursday morning, and will start visiting the track at 9 a.m. beginning Friday.
While Animal Kingdom’s 2 3/4-length victory in the Derby at odds of 20-1 was visually impressive, it did not discourage competitors from lining up for the Preakness. A total of 20 horses remain on the list of those being considered for the race. The group of candidates includes seven that ran in the Kentucky Derby and 13 new shooters.
The Preakness is limited to 14 starters and has drawn a capacity field just twice in the past 25 years, 1992 and 2005. The race had 12 starters last year and has averaged 11 runners during the past five years.
The post position draw will be held at Pimlico on Wednesday, May 18 at 5 p.m. and will be televised live on HRTV.
If more than 14 starters are properly nominated and pre-entered, the starters will be determined with the first seven horses given preference by the highest lifetime earnings in graded stakes. The next four starters will be determined by the highest lifetime earnings in all “non-restricted stakes,” which means those stakes whose conditions contain no restrictions other than age or sex. The remaining three starters will be determined by the highest lifetime earnings in all races.
Graded stakes earnings for the 20 Preakness candidates are as follows. The top seven qualify for a starting position in the race:
In other Preakness news, Ramon Dominguez, Garrett Gomez, Cornelio Velasquez , Robby Albarado, and Mike Smith have all secured mounts for the race.
Dominguez will ride Dance City, who finished third in the Arkansas Derby (gr. I) for trainer Todd Pletcher. Dominguez has had Preakness mounts in eight of the last 10 years, including second-place finishes aboard First Dude (2010) and Scrappy T. (2005).
Garrett Gomez, who rode Master of Hounds in the Derby, is scheduled to ride Sway Away in the Preakness. Sway Away was fourth in the Arkansas Derby last out. Gomez rode him when he was second in the San Vicente (gr. II) and sixth in the Rebel (gr. II).
Velasquez was confirmed as the jockey for Hutcheson (gr. II) winner Flashpoint and will be aboard for the fourth time in as many starts. This will be his first start for Wesley Ward after being transferred from Rick Dutrow Jr.
Albarado will ride for King Congie, the third-place finisher in the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (gr. I), while Smith will be in the irons on Astrology. Smith won the Preakness in 1993 with Prairie Bayou.