Two days after 3-year-old male champion Animal Kingdom breezed five furlongs on the turf at Palm Meadows Training Center, his trip to the $10 million Dubai World Cup (UAE-I) March 31 has been scrapped.
Trainer Graham Motion, in a Twitter message sent the morning of March 12, said the 2011 Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) winner by Leroidesanimaux “came out of his work sore in the same leg he injured” in last year’s Belmont Stakes (gr. I). Motion said Animal Kingdom would not be going to Dubai.
Diagnostics are currently being performed to determine the severity of the injury, but the timing is such that Team Valor International chief executive officer Barry Irwin and Motion have ruled out the trip to the Middle East. Animal Kingdom was supposed to leave March 20.
“This is a crushing blow for our company and our partners as well as our trainer, who has done such a great job getting the horse back to this point,” Irwin said. “If he comes out of this OK, hopefully we can run in the World Cup in 2013.”
Motion, when reached later in the morning, said: "It's a tough deal. It's tough to come this far and have this happen, but that's the name of the game."
Animal Kingdom will be sent for a bone scan--Motion said hopefully within the next 48 hours--because it's not certain what the specific problem is. The problem was first noticed March 11, when the colt "wasn't 100%"
When asked if the colt was lame, Motion said the leg is sore. "He really had come out of the race really well, so it makes this a bit more shocking," the trainer said.
Motion still plans to send Lucky Chappy to Dubai for the UAE Derby (UAE-I).
Word had spread around the Gulfstream Park backstretch that jockey John Velazquez’s agent had been seeking mounts for the jockey for Dubai World Cup day. Reached by phone, agent Tito Fuentes said he didn’t believe Velazquez would be making the trip to Dubai.
When asked about Animal Kingdom’s status, Fuentes said he could not comment on the situation.
Velazquez rode Animal Kingdom to victory in the Kentucky Derby and has been aboard the colt for his last four starts, including his winning 2012 debut at Gulfstream Feb. 18. That race was the colt’s first start since incurring a fracture in his left hind leg during the June 11 Belmont Stakes that required surgery and a long recovery period.
Animal Kingdom’s five-furlong breeze March 10 was reported as being completed in 1:04.80, the fastest of two moves at the distance that day and on that surface at Palm Meadows.